Out of Colorado

We met Jane, Joan and Nora on the Divide in Canada, and later in Montana. We hear from Adam that Jane lives in Salida, and that she has invited us to stay with her. The invite comes complete with an offer of lasagna. We’re in.

After two nights, we pull ourselves away and head for Marshall Pass. The sun is out and sweat drips down into my eyes. This seems to be a recurring problem for me.

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Marshall Pass is another old railroad grade, and so is “gentle”. From the top, we coast down towards Sargents. There’s not much to see here, except an army convoy filling up on gas.

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Sleeping near Carnero Pass, the only thing that wakes me are coyotes. They must have found something good. There’s no moon and the stars are bright.

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Before dropping into Del Norte, the trail winds through what the map calls Elephant Rocks. People are living off the grid out here in school buses with cisterns and solar panels.

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Del Norte is quiet on a Saturday, but we use the gas station wifi to plan our time in New Mexico. A quart of OJ and a six pack of beer replenish calories lost. Dehydrated mole spices things up.  Amanda camps with us at the town park. In the morning we all head for Indiana Pass.

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Eventually we reach the top.

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In my excitement to bomb down, I loose sunscreen, then chapstick, then mouthwash out of my bag. It’s a yardsale.

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Platoro has baked goods and we stock up before heading on.

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Photo by Tyndall Ellis.

We manage to time our ride right, and see an old steam engine chugging by on the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad.

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After that, we exit Colorado for New Mexico, curious to see what the trail has in store for us.

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Coasting through Colorado

We pass three days in the Silverthorne area. Tyndall’s brother and his family are in the area, on vacation from Oklahoma. We hang out with the nephews and play foose ball – it’s a good change of pace. On the last day, we visit the market. Peaches from the Grand Junction area are on sale and I fill my frame bag.

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Under a sky heavy with rain we climb Boreas Pass, leaving the hubbub of Breckenridge behind. It’s a railroad grade all the way, this is easy I think. At the top, the landscape opens up and we drop down through red rocks and aspen, towards South Park.

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Como is only 20 miles down the trail, but there are no multi million dollar houses here – only cabins with no running water. We camp between an abandoned swing set and an old school house.

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Photo by Tyndall Ellis.

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Across the open expanse of South Park we go, stopping at the fire station for water, and in Hartsel for lunch. We ride a bit of paved road, and it’s heavy with holiday weekend traffic.

The road winds up towards the Watershed Divide. We camp at the top and listen to elk bugle in the night.

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In the morning we coast into Salida, riding some singletrack on the way. Everything is sharp and prickly here. I try not to fall.

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Finding the trees through the Forest

We skeedaddle out of Rawlins in favor of Saratoga. Saratoga is not on the Divide route, but we have friends to meet.

We spend a day in Saratoga, soaking in hot springs and eating ice cream. Rain storms roll through all day, cooling things off and adding a little moisture to the air.

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From Saratoga, our wheels point south, aiming for Colorado.

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We head for the Rawahs, riding through pine forests, spending a night at 9,500′. Creeks run along side the road. It’s cool and damp once again. 

Tyndall and I met here eight years ago. At that time, he was wrangling horses and I was wrangling guests, doing seasonal work at the Rawah Guest Ranch. Friends Kevin and Karen still spend time in the Valley, and we meet them there.

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We pass the time around the campfire, telling lies stories under a full moon. Trek the dog and horses Rio and Brasso can’t resist the heat of the fire, either.

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After a couple days, Tyndall and I tear ourselves away. We are sad to leave.

We ride along the headwaters of the Colorado River near Hot Sulfur Springs, and continue south over Ute Pass. The pass climbs up through national forest, but I’ve never seen so many No Trespassing Industrial Area signs. Near the top is a huge mine and tailing pond. 

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Some sturdy wildflowers still cling on , but yellow leaves dot the mountainsides. Fall is coming.

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