Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Roof of the Rockies

Day 287
Lottis Creek Campground to San Isabel National Forest
Time: 3:51:00
Distance:26.8 miles
Avg Speed: 6.9 mph
Terrain: High Mountain Pass
Location: N 38 48 28.3, W 106 23 33.1

Today we climbed the highest pass yet on our trip. In fact, it’s the highest we’ve toured over. It was extra special since we have our latest guest cyclist, Scott, with us. We always enjoy having someone along for the ride.

The day started out with rain and we were a little worried about our chances of getting over Cottonwood Pass. We had a breakfast date with our campsite neighbors around 8:30 and decided to wait and see what the weather had in store. We soon forgot about the rain as hot plates of huevos rancheros came out rv door. We enjoyed more time with our new friends as we filled our bellies with the delicious meal. After the third cup of coffee, the sun started to poke through the clouds and we headed back to our tents to start packing.
By 10:30 we said goodbye to Larry and Darian and started the ride towards Taylor Reservoir. We gave them hugs and felt so thankful for the quality time we had spent with them.
After thirty minutes in the cool, crisp air we had made our way to the dam at Taylor Reservoir. The Sawatch Range and the Colligiate Peaks lay before us. Man, I love Colorado!
After a quick stop to refill our water, we made our way to the bottom of Cottonwood Pass – 14 miles to the top. Scott sprinted ahead and after the first couple of miles we figured he was already having lunch on top. A little bit later we caught up with him as he was having a gel. We all needed that kind of “go juice” today as we climbed to over 12,000 ft. A few more miles through the pine forest brought us to a much needed lunch break. I’m sure all of us were looking at our cycle computers trying to calculate how much time it would take to make the pass. We probably should have been thinking of other things. The mozzies kept lunch to the bare minimum and we started out again at the 4 mph pace. As the calories kicked in, I started to feel really good. The views of the pass opened up and I felt like I was dancing on the pedals. I stopped below the pass to wait for Chris and Scott. The big guy rolled up first and we discussed our options. We’d leave it up to Scott as to whether we’d stop for the day or continue on. When we posed the question he said – “ No way, we’re going to the top!”
The final 30 minutes of the long haul brought us to the roof of the Rockies. I was so excited for Scott and rode behind him to get as many pictures as possible. I wanted to have some good documentation of his first ascent to the Continental Divide.
The clouds held off for some family photos at the pass. We lingered just long enough to soak in the accomplishment and then donned rain gear for the descent. We found a great bush camp about 1,500 ft below the summit and quickly configured the bikes so that we could set up the tarp. Hail started to pelt down and we rushed to huddle under the shelter. The hail lasted for almost an hour and when it was all said and done it looked like Christmas in July. Chris and I had the pleasure of setting our tent up on two inches of frozen rain pebbles.
We are now snuggled down in our bags with thoughts of hot springs and steaks tomorrow…

Here’s to crossing the Divide,

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