San Juan Huts Day 3

With day 2 now behind us, day 3 was looking much better.  Everyone was feeling good, altitude headaches were still there, but we knew that today would be the day that they would go away. We’d be dropping down to a more reasonable 7,500′ today.

Day 3 Black Mesa Hut to Dry Creek Hut

  • 34.95 miles
  • 1,825′ elevation gain
  • 5,023′ elevation loss
  • 11,045 max elevation
Started the day with an awesome sunrise

The sunrise we had this morning was incredible.  I think I stood there and watched the sun come up for almost 25 minutes.  Just one of those things that is hard to explain, but this particular sunrise was spectacular.

We started the day off with a very brief downhill before one long, but gentle climb before we would hit the major elevation loss of the day.

Nick, John, Dean ready to roll
No worries John, it’s mostly downhill for the rest of today

After some relatively smooth gravel forest roads, we turned onto a somewhat beat up forest road that started our downhill adventure.  The first sections were rocky, washed out and rutted.  Also covered with lots of cow patties.  Cows would be the theme for today!  We were passing through a lot of open grazing land and it was amazing how many cows we saw.

What struck me most about this section of the route though was just as we finished the rough downhill and were getting back onto some smoother gravel we ran into what I can only describe as some sort of hippie commune.  I haven’t seen that many dreadlocks and unwashed people in one area for quite awhile and I used to live right next to Vermont!  There was some sort of crisis going on too.  Some dude ran up to John and I and asked if we had seen a guy in a red hoodie, his name was Mushroom (I kid you not) and he apparently had the anti-seizure medication that some one else was desperately in need of, right now!  The dude then ran off while John and I waited for Dean and Dave to catch up.  As we rolled along, the 1st dude was coming back with Mr. Mushroom, who looked like he was straight out of the Matrix Trilogy.  When asked they indicated that all was well and the 4 of us continued on our trek.  Very strange, and somethings just didn’t quite add up.

Anyways, back to the riding.  After Hippieville we had some small climbs and gradual descents.  It was a very welcome day of easy pedaling and we were all making good time.
Nick and Troy had opted to do the extra 4 miles for the alternate route option today.  We all agreed to meet up at the Miramonte Reservoir for lunch.

more cows
cows playing chicken with cars

Soon after the cow herding Dean, Dave, John and I hit the reservoir and setup a little lunch time action.

Time for some lunch

We were there for maybe 45 minutes or so before we saw Troy and Nick coming up the road after their singletrack adventure.  From this point we all road more or less together over some rolling terrain, one final small climb and into a screaming fast gravel downhill before making a sudden turn towards Dry Creek Hut.

rain back towards where we just came from
view from Dry Creek Hut
Relaxing on the deck after a good day of riding

Dropping down to 7,500′ made my headache go away and it was much easier to breathe compared to the past 2 days.  All in all this day comes at a perfect time.  It’s almost like a rest day compared to what we had already done.

for about 20 minutes we had wind, rain and some hail move through

The storm cooled things off quite nicely.  The wind stayed pretty gusty for about an hour or so before that died off too.  This hut and day 2 were probably my favorite two of the whole trip.

lots to choose from

We made good time to hut 3 and spent a good long afternoon just relaxing.  Basically this ritual included eating, napping, shooting the breeze, and just hanging out.  Pretty stellar day if you ask me.

Today was a transition day from alpine forests to the edge of more desert like conditions.  We would spend the next 2 days in dry and hot conditions so we enjoyed this while we could.

That’s about it for now.  All of day 3 pictures are here

Thanks for reading,


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