You can measure how good a ride is by the pain you feel the next morning when you try to get out of bed. The more it hurts, the better the ride.
And by that standard, Monday's ride must have been epic.
Usually I don't like groups larger than five. When you get too many people, you tend to have a lot more problems. And that was no exception on President's Day. Trying to keep track of eight in some extreme mountainous backcountry (located east of Idaho Falls, west of Alpine and just south of Hell) proved to be a challenge throughout the day. And that's even taking in consideration that we were the only tracks out there. Not once did we cross tracks with anyone outside of the group.
This in itself tells you two things-first, we had all the fresh powder to ourselves; second, where we were riding was too extreme for anyone with common sense to venture.
By the time all eight sleds made it up (and sometimes down) the steep slopes of non-descript locations called Red Ridge, Fourth of July, Bear Creek and Big Elk, the landscape would resemble a war zone with trenches, craters and some non-essential parts scattering the terrain. And each time as we reached a new peak or ridge line, the thought in everyone's mind would be "I sure hope we don't have to come back this way."
About midway through the ride we realized that we didn't have enough daylight (or strength) to complete our projected route, leaving us with the frightening realization that we were going to need to go back some of the way we came.
It's remarkable how slopes that seemed almost vertical on the first go round suddenly become even steeper and more trecherous on the return trip. Within a few short miles it felt like we assaulted pretty much an all-star line-up of hillclimbs resembling the RMSHA circuit . without the hill crew to catch your tumbling sled. Our snow suits were soaked from the outside in as well as from the inside out-sort of like hot and cold running sweat.
Although the seven-plus hours of riding only netted just over 50 miles, you can bet we earned every one of those miles during the day.
And Tuesday morning, when we rolled out of bed and dragged our sorry bodies off to work, you can bet we felt all 50 of those miles.