Climbing: 3320 ft
This morning started out with Kirsten making us all stacks of pancakes with eggs and sausage, and filling us full of coffee before we headed out. I moseyed out slowly, not wanting to leave. Kirsten took photos of us and rang cowbells for encouragement as we headed out (and UP) the mountain.
The pass following Brush Mtn Lodge was infamous this year, as the snowpack was wayyyyy more than usual, and so the leaders of the Tour Divide (the race that takes place on the GDMBR every year) got stuck for several days. Several of the front runners dropped out of the race here, as the pass was covered in thigh-deep snow into late June.
Luckily, by the time I got here, the pass was snow-free…..but beautiful! There was a significant section of hike-a-bike, but it was mostly rideable to the top, and the trail was surrounded by the requisite beautiful views and AMAZING wildflowers. I’ve been growing increasingly captivated by the wildflowers along the route—especially in Colorado!
Arriving at the top took me to my highest elevation yet, around 9800 ft. I took Kirsten’s recommendation and, from the bike trail, made the short hike up to a breath-taking overlook. I ALMOST made it to 10,000 ft, but I was just shy of it.
The southern descent of this pass was one of the most disappointing kinds: instead of a nice road surface that allows you let loose and fly down the other side, making up time for the climbing, it was almost three miles of SUPER chunky gravel. Descending required a ton of focus, slowly and carefully picking a path, and the outer limit of my mountain bike skills. It was pretty frustrating, but it did eventually turn to a nicer surface.
I stopped for a late lunch at a general store in Clark, CO, and then rode the final 20 or so miles into Steamboat Springs. Entering town, there was a clear distinction of the type of place we were entering: momentarily leaving pickup truck country and entering the Land of Subarus. Lots of bike racks and Patagonia-looking people.
OH! And the most exciting thing! I SAW A BEAR!!! Right off the highway, about 10 miles north of Steamboat Springs, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. I had apparently startled a little black bear, and I saw him ambling away from the road toward the river! I didn’t stop (and honestly it happened so fast I barely processed it till I was already past!). So, there! It wasn’t a grizzly, but I DID see a bear!!!
Chris, Hillary, Gaelan, and I split a campsite at the KOA in Steamboat, and I went into town to grab dinner. It’s a cute little town (if quite expensive), with natural springs and the Yampa river running right through the center of town. After being in more rural “cowboy” kind of country for so long, it almost felt strange to be in a more outdoorsy liberal town that felt a bit closer to home.