One Awesome Stranger

Anyone who has ever traveled knows that the guide books only get you so far. Sometimes the only way to truly experience a place is to let your self get lost, or find a guide. Getting lost in the wilderness is not my idea of a good time, so this story is about meeting a guy named “Slack” from Marble, Colorado. 

Yesterday, Sally and I decided to make the drive over to Carbondale to check out some new mountain bike trails. People have been suggesting we ride over there all summer, so we finally made it happen. We stopped at a bike shop to get a general feel of where we should ride, ultimately we decided on the Prince Creek Trails near the base of Mount Sopris. The directions took us up a county road to a parking lot, but then directed us the opposite direction from where we were supposed to go. This is where Slack comes in. He pulled up in his modified junk yard camper, threw on all of his old school gear and headed up the road. I was a bit confused, and Sally was relying on me to get us to the trail, so I asked him which way we should be going. We got a lot more than a finger point in a direction. He stopped, thought about it for a second and said, “You know I could use some company today, why don’t I lead the way.” Sally is thinking, “oh no, this man is going to kill us in the middle of the woods,” and I was just hoping his expectations of our riding abilities were’t to high. It soon became clear that Slack really was just excited to have people to ride around and share his home trails with. He had a bell on his handle bars, obnoxious to some I imagine, but super helpful for us to know where he was. He would stop every so often to make sure we weren’t dead and was always willing to answer our questions. photo 2

The trail system itself seems pretty simple, but none of the trails are marked. If we had been following the trail app I have on my phone, we most certainly would have ended up somewhere we didn’t want to be. Instead we followed Slack and completed the longest ride I’ve ever done. Along the way, we joked with Slack about how he doesn’t know how to use the internet and how he didn’t have a cell phone, but his wife knows not to worry unless he isn’t home before dark. In true Kristen fashion, I took a bunch of pictures, but there was no way a selfie was going to do justice to where we were, so we taught Slack how to take a picture with an iPhone. I think he did a great job!

photo 1


Notice the happy smiles in this photo. Shortly after, we continued to climb up a Forest Service road to what we were assured was the most fun downhill ever. Slack used some reference to the Jetsons and the treadmill–I didn’t really understand, but again he promised it was the most fun we would have all day. Lies! And not because it wasn’t fun necessarily, it was just above our skill level. Sally got to the bottom and proclaimed she needed to make a donation to the local trail society for all of the plant life she destroyed on the way down. In the moment it was hard to see the positive side of a section called Father of Ginormous, but we were both glad to have tried it.

We decided it best to skip [lower] Ginormous in favor of returning to the Prince Creek Quickie. Exhaustion had started to set in and we made our way back to the car. For the most part we just rode the back the same way we came up, so the river crossing with a metal bridge wasn’t a surprise. I successfully navigated it, but not without hesitation. Sally on the other hand, well she made some sound effects I shouldn’t type and Slack was off his bike running back to her before I could even clip out. It was one of those moments you really wanted to capture on camera, but would be a really crappy friend if I told her to stay upside down in a thorn bush with her bike on top of her. Again, one of those moments that at the time was not funny, but I have to commend Sally a successful ride. It speaks to highly of her character because I have been on my bike a lot this summer and she came home from Bonaire and is willing to ride anything, and not to mention does a awesome job keeping up!

I’ve never really had trouble talking to people or asking for directions, but rarely do people go out of their way to help you find what you are looking for. It could have been very simple for Slack to say, “yeah, trail head is up here,” but instead he spent three (patient) hours with us. If it weren’t for him we would not have known about most of what we rode. If you are reading this and happen to know Slack from Marble, please pass along our deepest gratitude!


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