The fastest route to go west of where I live is not to go down to the highway, but to travel west through a couple small towns and then west along a long dirt road (Trough Road) through the mountains. I have taken this route a few times now to get to Snowmass Village where some of my friends live. The first time I took the route, I just let google maps direct me and I was quite shocked when it took me down this long, steep, not very wide road for over an hour. After looking at maps closer, I realized, this really is the quickest way.
A large storm was due to hit Denver the day I was supposed to be going to Snowmass. My plan had been to drive to Snowmass in the evening. The whole city of Denver was in a panic over the storm. You would think the end of the world was coming. Grand County got the edge of the storm. Schools were closed and the news was covered in warnings. At one point I looked at the traffic maps and almost every highway was closed. I debated leaving earlier to go to Snowmass, but I was afraid to get on the highway and I was sure Trough Road would not be navigable. Plus, the mountains had been trying to kill people with avalanches lately and I was very wary of the avalanche danger. Many areas that haven’t had avalanches in 10 or more years were covering roads and highways. I watched the snow plow go down my road at least 5 times during the day even though I could barely see the end of my driveway.
At one point in the early afternoon, the storm lifted a little. The clouds were still there, but they rose a little higher in the sky. The snow slowed and I could see the end of the driveway. I thought, if I’m going to go, now is the time. The hardest part of the drive was my own driveway since I didn’t shovel first. All the roads in Grand County were cleared pretty well. I think the county has a shortage of plumbers, but an excess of snow plowers. As I was driving, I was wondering what Trough Road would look like. I was wondering if there was avalanche danger or if the snow would be so thick you couldn’t drive on it. I got to it and it looked like it had been plowed. So, I took a chance, hoping I wouldn’t get stuck if it wasn’t plowed the whole way.
It was plowed the whole way, still covered in snow and slush, but not so deep that you couldn’t drive through it. The clouds stayed low and threatening, but it didn’t snow any more and the wind was calm. Everything was a monotonous grey. I saw deer, lots of deer, crossing the street, walking down the street. I saw some elk also. I even saw big horn sheep, which I hardly ever see in Colorado anymore. I only saw one truck. It was this very quiet world in slow motion as if I was in a secret bubble hidden from the storm, hidden from other cars and other humans. It was just a pocket of beautiful nature and me.
As I got to the end of the road and close to where I would get on the highway, the road became dry. The clouds were even higher in the sky. The western part of the state hardly saw any of the storm. Instead of terrifying, Trough Road had been a tunnel of safety between the storm and the highway.