15 May 2008

Snowy Mountains & Log Cabins

Cold Place

I set off bright and early from Pueblo and realised what a long and roundabout route we took to get to the hotel in the first place when we got to town.
Fox Cubs
The Adventure Cycling Association maps that I am using have a useful addition on the latest map which breaks each map section down purely by elevation and so it makes for an easy to see guide to how steep each section ahead is. Pueblo is around 4500 feet above sea level and in the 150 miles from there, I will be going up to 11,542 feet at Hoosier Pass which is the continental divide.
Once I got out of Pueblo the roads quietened down and I was out amongst some low elevation foothills rising up to around 6000 feet. I stopped in Canon City (pronounced Canyon City) for some lunch of soup and sandwich at a little family restaurant that was barely satisfactory but I am trying to eat well for a few days after all the burgers and snickers bars I have consumed through Kansas.
More Foothills
and more..
Having knocked off 2 map panels in the morning session, I was pretty confident about clearing the next panel by mid afternoon despite some serious climbing upto 9000 feet over the next 32 miles. My confidence was not to be held out by the reality of the roads and I made slow progress all the way along. I stopped a bit too frequently to rest as the combination of the hills and the altitude took their toll but I was still going forward which is the main thing.
Getting Higher
Smarter than the average bear
I was still dressed for Pueblo with my shorts and two layers on the top half which made sense for the early climbing but as I turned onto route 9, it started to snow! I laughed off the early flakes but then the higher I got, the more I realised that snow was the norm for these heights as everything was covered in a thick blanket of snow. I wasn't going to take my shorts off to put on my lycra legin things underneath them as my private parts were already retreating inside my body but I did crack out my gore-tex jacket which is the best wind-proof and water-proof jacket I have seen!
Made me laugh at least
The snow was falling heavier and heavier as I continued the climb but the scenery was a fantastic distraction with huge fir trees covered in fresh snow and plenty of wildlife dotted around. Several deer stopped and stared at me and I got some blurry photos of them whilst the little rodent things that darted around the verges were too fast to catch on film. By now I couldn't feel my toes and my hands were barely being kept alive by my winter gloves so I stopped and pushed the bike for a mile or so to get some blood back into my feet.
More deer
At long last I made it to a turnoff on the map for the town of Guffey which was marked as having a hostel and a restaurant so I decided to head 1 mile off route up there rather than go another 4 miles along the route to a hostel with no food marked down. After almost 90 miles I pulled up to a little café (Rita's Diner) and hauled my bike up the driveway to be met at the door by Rita who told me they had just closed for the day.. However my sodden appearance must have warmed her heart as she said that she could reopen to knock together some food for me and I gratefully tucked into a tuna bagel (I tried to order the easiest menu item)and some green chili soup.
Bill in the Cabin
View from the Cabin
Rita recommended the hostel over the road and called the owner, Bill, who arranged to meet me at the top of the road so I finished up my food and wheeled over there, eager for a warm shelter for the night. I was not to be disappointed as Bill led me into my own private log cabin with a log fire, double bed and TV with an old VHS video set up! We chatted for an hour or so and I felt bad rejecting his offer of a few beers since I have another few weeks until I am back on the booze, but he had some good stories about the area, the hostel and the TransAmerica Trail since he has been here since 1976 when the first TransAmmers began.

My room with a cosy log fire
Bill is originally from Amityville, made famous by the horror film, and moved out here to get away from all the people over there, and likes his simple life in the relative wilderness with cyclists for company when they come through every few days. You can see more detail about the place at www.guffeycolorado.com and I will upload some photos once I am back (or if I find a library that lets me use the USB connection for the camera). I have spent the rest of the evening watching the Kevin Kline and Sigourney Weaver classic movie "Dave" and have got a roaring fire and an electric blanket to keep me warm overnight.

There is also an update on the hunt for Carl Carlsen....Rita mentioned that she met a cyclist from Washington yesterday who must be Carl and so I am only about a day behind him which is promising. I'll catch him by the weekend!

No comments: