A close friend of mine is turning 50 years old in the near future. We have spent many days together and are over 400 days snowboarding together. We also have done other things frequently, like rafting and camping.
When I asked him what he wanted to do for his HBD, he didn’t give me an answer right away. We debated adventures from Copper Mountain and Solitude to Wolf Creek. Eventually he told me. Snowmobiling. I told him I’d set it up.
The first person on my mind was Clay Hockel of Thunderstruck Adventures.
I met Clay when he was looking for a place to house his snowmobile rental and guiding business. Reaching out to him, I found a day later in February that would work and signed us up.
One of the things I really like about Clay’s snowmobiles is that they are sexy! In the past, the snowmobiles I rode were more like Cadillacs. Also, we spent much of our time trail riding, often to catch powder turns in secret stashes. In this case, there wasn’t any trail riding and Thunderstruck Adventures lived up to the name.
The day I reserved was a Tuesday because most visitors are traveling to or from Steamboat and everyone else is working. This makes the middle of the week a great time to escape. Plus, posting photos of doing epic things on a workday makes my friends jealous.
After cursing a short distance, we came across the ranch Clay leases each Winter. 10,000 acres of pasture, hills, and huge views of California Park and the back side of Steamboat Lake. The snow was a couple feet deep and new, which made for high speed riding and big powder turns.
I can go into several stories of the day, from me ‘accidentally’ dropping a cornice to Clay getting every snowmobile unstuck without a shovel. One of my favorite things to do was to watch Clay. He is an incredible expert and can ride up a 40% slope, wheelie at the end while turning his sled around to go back down the same slope.
For a birthday celebration, this was an excellent idea. For me, the challenges were unlearning old snowmobile habits that were gained from well-intentioned advice and understanding how a sport snowmobile handles over a cruiser. To me, cruisers are more like Cadillacs, big and heavy. These snowmobiles are more like sports cars, fast and light.
And the views? Outstanding.
Would I do it again? Heck yeah! Getting out and being in the middle of nowhere with three other people was amazing. Most men enjoy power sports of some sort. Add a motor and eyes light up like a child’s.