Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 23 Sargents to Del Norte

Journal Entry:

We rode from Sargents to Del Norte. We were rained on throughout the day as we went over each of two passes. Some of the storms were nasty! We had some guys offer to cook us dinner and let us camp with them.  We thought about it but we wanted a dry bed and showers.

Sargents Trading Post

The morning dawned clear and cool at the Sargents campground. Mist and a few low-lying clouds from  the rain the night before glowed with the light of the sun.

 We packed up our gear and ate a good breakfast at the little cafĂ© at the trading post. We had about 12 miles of pavement to the next gravel section; so with fresh legs we set a fast pace to the left turn south.

An hour or so later, with storm clouds on the horizon, we turned left onto a paved road. The route turned right into a broad valley but it looked like we would have to go directly through a rainstorm that had visible lightning. Since we would be joining the road we were currently on twenty miles or so later, we decided to stay on pavement to avoid mud and the possibility of being fried by lightning.

The rainstorm we decided to avoid
We left the rolling hills and started a steady climb that wound into the mountains for mile after mile. Not only were we dealing with a grade, we also had a headwind to contend with. Only a few miles from the top of the 10,000 foot pass it started sprinkling rain. We donned our raingear since it looked like it wasn’t going to let up, and then continued upward. Near the crest of the pass it started hailing and really dumping rain.

We tried to seek some shelter underneath a small roof protecting some tourist info, but soon realized that we would be best off to get off the mountain before we became hypothermic. All of our effort for the past hours was rewarded with mile after mile of steep descending. Shortly before my hands became useless blocks of ice we escaped from under the rain clouds and began to warm up in the lower altitudes. After more miles of blissfully smooth and dry pavement we turned toward Carnero Pass which would take us above 10,000 for the second time that day.

                After fifteen miles of climbing we finally crested the pass, once again we were rained on! We relished the next fifteen miles as we gradually descended back to around 8,000 feet. By now anything under 8,000 was starting to feel like sea level after over a week of staying above 7,000 feet in Wyoming and Colorado. As we glided down the road we rode through some of the most amazing rock formations of the whole trip. The road wound between two giant pillars of stone pointing toward the gray sky.

Eventually the road leveled out and we got back on pavement. We were getting low on supplies and needed a break so we went a little off route to the tiny community of La Garita. After getting some convenience store food and a few Gatorades we went back outside to load up our bikes. As I was just packing away my last Snickers bar Joseph jumps on his bike and pedals in the wrong direction! I had the maps and had failed to tell him that we needed to head back the way we had came to get back on route. I screamed with all my might to get him to turn around but he didn’t hear me. I frantically flung my leg over my top tube and sprinted after him. A minute or so later, having burnt many more calories than I would have liked, with my legs now screaming in agony, I was able to get him to realize he was heading in the wrong direction.

That taken care of we hit more dirt roads. A few miles later we turned onto a road that wasn’t much better than a glorified cow path through the arid landscape. It quickly started to rain so we once again got out our rain gear and hunched our shoulders against the cold deluge. After nearly crashing several times in sandy washes and almost getting lost, we hit a bona fide gravel road. A mile or so later we saw two guys standing by the road. They had seen us earlier and knew a little about the GDMBR. They were amazed at what we were doing and even offered to fix up some food and allow us to stay with them in a camper or something like that. Joseph and I had been fantasizing about a hot restaurant meal and a dry hotel room all day so we turned them down and turned toward town, only a few miles away by now. We rolled into town around 6 pm so the first thing we did was to get something to eat. As we leaned out bikes against the front of the restaurant and tried, to no avail, to clean off the mud and general grime all over us, I felt somewhat conspicuous. Hunger won out over my desire not to smear mud all over the restaurant so we went inside for what turned out to be a great meal.

Muddy Bikes


We had a hard time finding a place to stay for the night, but after stocking up on junk food at a gas station under the quizzical eyes of the cashier, we did find a B and B that, while somewhat pricey, was supremely comfortable. After a blissful shower that sluiced what seemed like pounds of dirt down the drain I went to bed. Just another day on the Great Divide!

Til next time,

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