4 – 8 July 2006
happened to be cycling through the small town of buena vista just in time for the july 4th parade. streams of people, horses, trucks, dogs, all sorts of groups from the hill-billy music reunion to the league of women voters, all throwing sweets to the crowds, kids scrambling in the sunshine. great atmosphere! then on to an almost deserted campsite high in the hills above twin lakes, at the foot of independence pass.
inpendendence pass was great – long climb but felt much stronger than i did on wolf creek. no doubt starting first thing rather than towards the end of a long day helped, as did the awesome views. 12,095 feet and mountains all around!! who knows, i might even be getting fitter. then a long, chilly descent in pouring rain into aspen, which is truly gruesome and gave me the heebies. a monument to consumerism, excess wealth and status based on possessions.(a woman on the summit did warn me, “aspen has become one big shopping mall. and there are women with high heeled shoes!!”)i scooted out the other side as fast as i could and went to visit the rocky mountain institute. headed up by amory lovins, it does a huge amount of work on energy efficiency and is optimistic that we can tackle global warming without having to make major lifestyle changes. hmmmmm
the final big pass (for now at least) turned into a bit of an epic. trail ridge road, one of the most spectacular roads in the world in terms of mountain scenery (allegedly). it started to rain at the foot of the climb and many many hours later i reached the summit in the rain equivalent of a white-out, with accompanying head-wind. 12 thousand feet and absolutely no view! worse, even after the summit, the road kept rising! by this time i was stopping every few minutes to rest, slumping over the bike and found myself talking to the road (always a bad sign) ” just go down! please, just go DOWN!” my breath was making an odd choking noise that i didn’t seem to have much control over and my face ached from the wind, cold and trying not to wimper out loud. finally the road did go down – thank goodness!! – for about 25 miles of cold wet descent into estes park where i arrived way beyond drowned rat state. definitely a motel night. bill pointed out later how ironic it would be to get hypothermia and frostbite on a global warming trip. very funny. he also tells me that there has been a drought here since last september so it seems churlish of me to complain about the rain. whether the drought had to break on the day that should have included some of the most spectacular scenery of the entire trip is another question.