The day started well with waffles at Andy’s apartment and then I futzed about a little and headed out. The rain from the day before created a thick fog in the valley. A few miles out of town the road started to gain elevation that would eventually going over the 9000+ foot Rabbit Ears Pass. The road in the valley was a bit foggy, but I felt OK on it. However when I started to climb the mountain the fog was thicker and the mountain blocked the sun leaving the road dark. Watching cars approach me in my rear view mirror I noticed they started to swerve drastically 200 feet behind me to avoid me. Normally cars would pass in a smooth arc starting far away, but the drastic swerve meant they couldn’t see me until the last minute despite my lights, reflective stripes, and obnoxious clothing.
I pulled off the road and waited. While waiting I contemplated the weather report I had seen in Steamboat. The weekend weather did not look good. I was in a bit of a race against the weather to cross the Rockies and reach the safehaven of my friend’s house in Littleton, CO as well as the lower elevations of the plains. They’d hopefully protect me somewhat from winter which could start at anytime in the mountains. After waiting for about 45 minutes, the sun rose up high enough that its rays went directly into the valleys and started to burn off the fog. In a span of about 10 minutes the road went from completely fogged in to clear, and I headed off again.
The hillsides coming up out of Steamboat Springs reminded me of the PBS painter Bob Ross and his happy trees. There were yellow aspens and green pines looking perfectly like one expects on a mountain. I was able to to enjoy the scenery as I was not going very fast. The distance up to the summit was 22 miles or so, and I decided since it had a lot of elevation gain I’d not try to push it hard because the next day I’d be attempting to cross Berthoud Pass at 11,300 feet. So I was basically within a gear or two of the granny gear crawling up the mountain at 5 miles per hour. It was beautiful alpine scenery the whole way.
I stopped at the Rabbit Ears Pass Continental Divide sign for some obligatory pictures. However I realized that I am not a drop of water so my trip would not be all downhill from there. I still had Berthoud Pass to go over. I am not sure of the exact route followed by the Great Divide Route, but looking at their overview online it looks like it follows the route I took from Steamboat to Granby and then on over Berthoud Pass.
After Rabbit Ears, I went over Muddy Pass…or did I? What is Muddy Pass? Andy had told me about it saying that he doesn’t know why they even have a sign for it. I went down a long downhill, then over what seemed to be an inconsequential bump of 100 feet, maybe less, that I would not have even know was a ‘pass’ without the sign identifying it.
After that it was more or less flat all the way to Granby following a river and railroad grade. It was after dark by the time I arrived at my Warm Showers hosts in Granby, and I was tired. Eighty two miles was a long day. Tomorrow will be another long day going up and over Berthoud. I checked with the weather again and talked with my hosts during a pancake dinner. The weather was supposed to take a turn for the much worse after noon tomorrow. If I had any hope of getting over the pass, I’d have to basically be over before noon. The forecast was for 50 mph winds gusting higher and snow. I figured I’d be somewhat equipped if I had to camp out in a storm, but not excited at all by the prospect. I had food, water, camp stove fuel, sleeping back, and extra warm clothes…but not nearly the backup I liked having in Antarctica.
I am also motivated by the thought of staying at my friend’s house and sleeping knowing I don’t have to go anywhere for a few days.
Time for bed and seeing what tomorrow brings!
Start: Steamboat Springs, CO
End: Granby, CO
Today’s mileage: 81.7 miles
Total miles so far: 1385 miles
Average speed: 10.9 mph
Max speed: 34.8 mph
Travel time: (08:45 to 19:15) 10.5 hours
Total travel time: 182.75 hours
Weather: cloudy, 40-65 F
Please consider making a donation to the Jimmy Fund to support research, treatment and care of childhood cancers allowing children to grow up and lead full, healthy, exciting lives. Thank you.