Truck Driving Off-Road in the Colorado Mountains

Truck Driving Off-Road in the Colorado Mountains

By: Steve Irick

I started my driving career working for a foodservice company. Because we were in Colorado, additional workload focused on ski areas in the winter and guest ranches during the summer.

Mountain driving is a challenge for any trucker regardless of the season, but where I worked, some of us considered it an adventure. Only a few drivers were able to boast that they had pulled a trailer to the “top” of Vail or Aspen.

When the ski areas were ready to stock their warming houses for the season, only a few drivers volunteered for the extra work. We looked forward to going up the Snow Cat trails before any “significant” snow had settled for the season.

But the experience of driving to the top of a ski slope was nothing compared to the summer challenge: delivering to the guest ranches. Some of these resorts were remote. Such was the case with Lost Valley Ranch.

It’s important to point out I did this job when there weren’t cell phones and GPS. If a driver didn’t know where a stop was, directions came from someone who had been there before.

Instructions were hurried, verbal and usually scrawled out on the back of an invoice. Key words describing landmarks and squiggly lines designating roads were the norm to find an account with no address. It was always a concern that your directions could be wrong because whoever you asked for help may have had a gripe with you.

And that’s why I was concerned the first time I drove to Lost Valley Ranch.

The directions I was given included phrases like, “the road is kind of hard to find” and “be careful when you drive alongside the cliff.”

The ranch was my last stop. I read the directions… “At the bottom of the big hill turn right on a small dirt road.”

It was a steep and winding trail with room for oncoming traffic in only a few places. There were several forks on the path and I used my improvised map as a guide.

After encountering some 4X4s that stopped and looked at me amusingly, I worried that I might be lost. However, when I drove alongside the cliff, I was pretty confident things were ok.

I traveled almost ten miles before the ranch came into view. Surprisingly, it even had a dock! It was a good thing I had leveled all the groceries on the trailer floor before leaving my previous stop, because the drive had been a rough one. The kitchen staff was happy their eggs weren’t broken and after I had unloaded they invited me to sit down to a wonderful meal.

This past summer my 22 year old son and I went four-wheeling and I took him through where I had driven years before.

“I can’t believe you drove a tractor trailer through here,” he said.

I smiled, “Neither can I.”