51 miles (82 km) – Total so far: 2,233 miles (3,594 km)
Last night’s stay at Starlight campground near Royal Gorge was wonderful. Chuck got a fire going and we all sat around chatting about nothing in particular for longer than we should. It was exactly the kind of relaxed evening that has been hard to come by as we’re usually too tired (or too busy blogging) to do the typical roastin’ marshmallows ’round the campfire thing.We got started early and finished breakfast late. Again, we managed to astonish our waitress with the sheer quantity of food we consume. That fuel would be important for a long day of climbing. This was to be our 2nd day of climbing from Canon city (~5,000 ft) up to Hoosier Pass (~11,500 ft). The general feeling of the trail has been that the Rockies would be longer but gentler than the Appalachian and Ozark ranges. The steady grade certainly helped, but what really made these mountains more climbable was the beautiful views and cool, crisp air.
At around 8,500 ft we hit the town of Guffey, which has the distinction of being the only town on the route to have an official sign designating it as a bike haven. Of course, the sign didn’t tell us it would be a grinding climb up to the town, but that can be forgiven because of the great people in town. Linda, who works in the post office, helped us out with some water and shipped some of our stuff back home (old maps and a now obsolete granny gear). Then we met Bill. How do I describe Bill? He was incredibly friendly and gracious and gave all the bikers a free beer. He was also crazy as a soup sandwich. Over the course of 40 years, he’s shared his hospitality and unique brand of art with untold numbers of cyclists.
The day was getting late and we had miles yet to go. So, we pulled ourselves away from Bill and started our long climb to Currant Creek Pass. When we finally crested the pass we were rewarded with an amazing view of the snow capped Rockies and the broad fertile valley of South Park, Colorado.
After cresting the pass we started down towards the town of Harstel. Connie, a friend and follower of my journeys, greeted us with a hand written sign. Paul and Terry were flabbergasted by Connie’s unexpected welcome to central Colorado. She joined us, but abstained from another truly massive meal which was necessary since the restaurants in Guffey had been closed. After dinner, I was able to spend a few hours relaxing with Connie at her Cabin, the Potterado Ranch. Then, after a refreshing sleep woke up early to catch up on yesterday’s blog (sorry for the delay)