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Bayfield FLC graduate completes 22-day solo trip through Southwest Colorado

300-mile journey was about emphasizing value of human-powered exploration
Dylan Doskocil cruises through the finish line of his 22-day adventure at Fort Lewis College on June 3. (Sophie McCrackin/Durango Herald)

Sore and relaxed – that’s how Dylan Doskocil was feeling on June 4.

He and his gear-laden bicycle had cruised through streamers on the Fort Lewis College campus the day before, ending a 22-day, 300-mile tri-sport journey.

The 23-year-old graduated from FLC with an engineering degree weeks before he set off on the trip, which grew from a culmination of his many passions.

Not only was it an exercise in three of the outdoor pursuits he had honed in college – biking, backcountry skiing and rafting – the trip was also the realization of a value that Doskocil holds close: traveling under the power of only one’s own body connects you to a place in a unique way.

“You’re able to breathe, you’re able to see what you're doing (and) interact with the land around you,” he said. “… Being in a car, you’re disconnected.”

“You’re able to breathe, you’re able to see what you're doing (and) interact with the land around you,” he said. “… Being in a car, you’re disconnected,” said 23-year-old Dylan Doskocil. (Courtesy of Berman Abdallah-Boehm)

Originally from Bayfield, the trip gave Doskocil an opportunity to connect landscapes and watersheds in a way he had never experienced before.

On May 13, he set off from the FLC campus by bike, skis strapped to the frame, and headed for Missionary Ridge. He left his bike and companion there, and began an eight-day solo ski and hike through Chicago Basin toward Silverton.

He had planned to drop through the Clear Lake basin, but a blizzard turned him around and cost him a day. By that point, day nine, his hand had begun to swell because of a puncture wound inflicted by a crampon on day four.

“My hand was in incredible pain, swelling and useless, and I couldn’t do anything,” he said.

He dropped over the pass into Ophir instead, where his parents met him with some pharmaceuticals. They gave him a ride 6 miles to Telluride – “a bummer” of a capitulation to an automobile – where he took a day of rest before he inflated his packraft.

Dylan Doskocil prepares to leave on his 22-day trip from Durango, up through Silverton, over to Telluride and down the San Miguel River to Naturita, and back to Durango. (Courtesy of Berman Abdallah-Boehm)

It took him four days on the San Miguel River, mostly alone, bailing and fixing his raft to make it to Naturita. He had initially planned to float all the way into the Dolores River to Moab, Utah, but with two days already lost, he opted for a shorter loop.

“The packraft was filling with water and the packraft would start submarining halfway through the rapid and have to pull over, hitting rocks, and so I had to be doing patch jobs on the fly,” he said.

He got off the river in Naturita and began the six-day journey by bike back to Durango, where his family was waiting.

More than anything, the difficulty of the journey came down to mental fortitude.

“Being out there by yourself and being able to push through those mental blocks, and then finally getting over that ridge you were stressed about, going up and then seeing that downhill ski to your camp … those moments were huge,” he said.

The trip was made possible, in part, by FLC’s Outdoor Pursuits program, which provided up to $1,200 in grant funding from the college’s Seek Your Adventure Award.

Dylan Doskocil starts the journey back to Durango. (Courtesy of Berman Abdallah-Boehm)

“It wouldn’t have been possible without them in terms of knowledge they’ve given me and the gear and the amazing-ness of the program to break down those barriers for people to get out there,” he said.

When asked about an adolescents’ game that asks a participant to choose one of three relationships – a long-term commitment, a brief passionate tryst or a murder – with three subjects, Doskocil gave the following answers:

  • Biking, his long-term love, is “sustainable, just a nice pleasant time throughout the experience.”
  • Skiing would be reserved for a brief and passionate encounter, he said, nothing that “it’s great when you’re doing one cool day … for the full nine days, I was kind of burnt out on the skiing.”
  • He would dispose of packrafting, noting that it was cold, wet and hard to relax.


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