Having just come home from Calgary (again), and working off a partial injury to my foot, I decided to sit down and spend a little time researching some of the Wyoming area and the back country trails in particular. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do was Black Bear Pass. It’s a little bit out of my way being to the southwest, but I’m still open to altering my route at this point.
In my research (read: Internet surfing), I came across this video of this retired couple who are part of a small group of Jeepers taking the backside of the Pass down towards Telluride. The video, while providing a great look at the trail, was easily surpassed by the banter between the guy and his frantic, German/Austrian?-accented, wife. I was trying to concentrate on the technical difficulty of the trail but found myself doubled over laughing.
I am admittedly concerned that I’m not ready for this yet. The front side of the Pass, up the mountain to the summit is a piece of cake. The down side is what I have reservations about. But hey, even in the wrecked shot below, this is a beautiful picture of the town, right? That guy is just lucky he stopped rolling there and not the bottom.
This brings me to the paradox that many Jeepers face. We spend so much time and money outfitting our vehicles so that they are capable of doing something like this that the risk of damaging them becomes even greater when we are actually faced with doing… something like this and hesitate.
It’s the old adage of :
“I just bought a Jeep so I can go off-roading!”
“Great, let’s go!”
“No, way, do you know how much I paid for this thing?”
I’m desperately trying to get past that. Insurance can replace a vehicle, but the countless hours I’ve spent in my garage with a wrench cannot be replaced. Same goes for actually dying, of course. No doubt that this trail is intimidating.
I’ve watched video after video and there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll do this. I need to do this. I have plenty of faith in my driving skills to do this. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned traveling the back country of the US solo, it’s to never underestimate it. Lack of proper planning and you become a statistic. But this has always been a bucket list item.
The other thing that’s weighing heavily on my mind is the timing of this entire trip. I was targeting end of May as I always do, but I’m starting to realize that this is much further north (and in elevation) than I’ve ever been this early in the year. I’m starting to come to terms with something I’ve already known but have been in denial about and that is that most of the things I want to see and do on this trip will likely be snow covered in May and impassable. Now I’m thinking August or September. And that throws everything up in the air.
But to experience this:
…I’d do about anything.