Of all the trailheads on the Shoshone ATV Trail System, Curtis Creek is closest to home. Being a little lower in elevation than some of the other mountain trails, we hoped it would be clear of snow.
Last week, I talked about the fun-o-meter. On this ride there were three — one shared by me and my son, one for his wife and their daughter, and one for my wife.
A 90-mile ride to Randolph and back would have the fun-o-meter pegged green for me and my son. The one for his wife and their daughter was more focused on where and when we were going to eat lunch. My wife’s meter only pegged green when everyone was happy. Each one has to be carefully monitored in order to have a good riding experience.
Curtis Creek is a trailhead for access to the Shoshone ATV Trail System, but the trail is very narrow at the point it leaves Highway 39. The best place to unload is along a wide shoulder on the side of the highway.
Heading north the on the trail, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The sky was sapphire blue dotted with puffy white clouds, a cool breeze ruffled our hair, and the smell of the woods wafted up as we passed by. Maybe it was the time of year, but this was one of the prettiest trails I have ridden.
Of particular interest was the way the weight of the winter snows had shaped the aspen trees. The normally straight stands of aspen took on an arthritic appearance.
This trail is suitable for wider machines and, for the most part, free of ruts. Instead of paying so much attention to negotiating our course, we got to spend more time enjoying the scenery. The best time to ride this section of the Shoshone Trails is late spring through fall.
We passed Eccles Peak to the east and came to an overlook in a wide spot on the trail. We took a moment to enjoy this breathtaking view. It seemed like we could see rank after rank of mountain ranges.
While we reached 9,000 feet in elevation at some points on the trail, most of the time we were below that, which kept us out of the snow, almost. Some shaded places harbored a few patches of snow, but they had melted sufficiently to make passage easy.
Lurking ahead of us, however, was one snow bank that was going to be more of a challenge. We had heard about this one from other riders we met on the trail. It didn’t have a name, but everyone knew about it. Still, we learned that machines were able to get through it and that we didn’t need to worry about it.
With the exception of the one viewpoint we stopped to enjoy, the trail kept to the woods. Winding through tall pines with large trunks, stands of aspen and colorful meadows, it was a delightful trail.
We passed a place with a sign marked “Red Wells.” Two small reddish-brown pools were guarded by a log fence. This and other springs we encountered indicated that there was plenty of water for the wildlife.
About 13 miles into our ride, we came to the snowbank. The snowbank itself was not the problem. It was a full-size pickup truck skiddywampus in the middle of it. Skiddywampus is a highly sophisticated word that means askew. Not only was it askew, it was buried in mud to the front axle. There was no way to get around it.
We turned around and headed back. Here is where I checked the three fun-o-meters. I suggested that we could ride some other trails or we could go back to the truck. My granddaughter and her mother were ready to go back to the truck and find a place to eat. Had I pushed for lengthening the ride, their needle would have dropped like a rock. The needle on the meter I shared with Chad was good because we want to be able to do this again. My wife’s meter was in the green, because everybody was happy.
Finishing a ride of about 27 miles, we went in search of a place to eat. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and always keep an eye the fun-o-meters.