September 2 – The miles continue to rack up. Here in Colorado, those miles are hard earned. We rode from Salida to Sargents. It was a shorter day’s ride at 43.99 miles, but it was packed with climbing.
From Salida we descended to 7000 feet, then we climbed to our 18th Continental Divide crossing since Banff. The Marshall Pass summit of 10842 feet was reached after riding up 24 miles of an old railroad which has been made into a road.
It was just under a 4000 foot climb. The descent was awesome. It was also on the grade of an old railroad. The grade allowed us to enjoy the gorgeous views. Aspen groves covered the hillsides that flanked our path. I called this descent a 17 mile smile!
September 3 – Another day and another 10000 foot pass to cross – 10067 feet Cochetopa Pass to be exact. After leaving Sargents, we descended for several miles through sage brush prairie.
At about mile 15, we began to climb. We climbed about 1000 feet, and then rode for several miles though a high valley. It was here that we met the edge of the day’s thunderstorm. After 15 miles of up and down hills through the valley, we began climbing again.
Finally, after nearly 50 miles of riding, we made it to Luders Creek Campground where we stopped for the day. Bill got the tent set up, and I got our meal cooked. The sky darkened, lightning danced, thunder cracked, and rain began to pour. We spent the rest of the evening taking refuge in our tent haven!
September 4 – Water is more scarce here. As a result, we have to plan the distance we ride each day based on the water source. The water sources we knew about were either 30 miles away at another campground or 64 miles away in Del Norte. We chose to make the push to Del Norte.
The 10166 feet Carnero Pass stood between us and our destination. The climb up the pass took us past beautiful rim rock vistas and other rock formations. Carnero Pass was our 19th Continental Divide crossing.
Once we crossed the pass, we were met with a 40 MPH headwind. The descent was slowed by the wind. We rode down canyons with multiple colored rocks.
When we passed through the final rock outcrops of the canyon, we entered the La Garita River Valley.
The daunting wind continued to pummel us. We had two small pass to climb (500 feet gain) before we made our final breathtaking descent into Del Norte on a very primitive forest service road.
Here in Del Norte, we will take a day of rest and take care of some errands.
Over the next week, we will make some of the biggest climbs of our trip. It is with a little trepidation that I look forward to the next week. Tomorrow, we will ascent the 11,910 feet high Indiana Pass. We will not descend below 9000 feet for 150 miles. That lower elevation will be short-lived, however, as we will climb again and spend the next 50 miles above 9000 feet. It will be a challenge, but we are up for it.
We continue to be impressed by the aspen groves and the geologic formations. I am hopeful that the beautiful scenery will continue. Life is great!