Firstly, sorry for the delay with the blog entry’s, since Denver we have only had the one day off which was in Moab and we used that day to explore the national park, which I’m sure you can understand. So we are now in Las Vegas, and have a few days to catch up.
So last time we left you we had just entered Colorado. We Initially where very worried about the climb up to Denver that sits at 5,290 Ft, but we where pleasantly surprised, it felt as though it was as flat as Nebraska. Truth be told it is was a slight climb, but we couldn’t feel a thing.
We rode into Sterling and camped in a rest stop. By this point we decided it would be a good idea to go back to using the tent, and to keep our food well away from where we slept, this was bear country.
We woke in the morning fresh and aimed to do 50 miles to Fort Morgen. Unfortunately Colorado is covered in what I would call Spikey Normans, and we had to deal with at least 3 punctures a day but we reached our destination.
That night we found a decent park with a few comfy looking benches, so we decided to do without the tent. Unfortunately we where awoken that night, but not by the bears, by something much worse, the sprinklers. They doused us both, luckily eventually they moved on and we went back to sleep sodden and cold.
As you can imagine the next morning we woke up a little tired and grumpy, so we cooked our porridge, had our vitamin C pills and I brewed my coffee (thankyou Charlotte and Jenny!!) and we set off.
That day when we reached highway 70 we saw it. A view we had been waiting to see since we left Omaha. We saw the Rockies, like a cloud on the horizon, but unmistakably mountains. This was a great sight, it got us very excited but also a little worried. We had to cross them.
It was two days later that we arrived into Denver. We had contacted an old school friend of Kieran’s sister. His name was Michael, he had moved to Denver and had very kindly said we could stay with him while we prepared for our assent of the Rockies.
We where relieved to pull into his house, we hadn’t had a day off since we left Omaha some 12 days earlier. He was a great host, who offered us a beer as soon as we came in the door.
It was also nice to hear another British accent. Michael told us the next day he and a friend where planning on going camping on the side of a mountain before waking up early doors to climb one of the Rockies notorious 14er’s, Mount Bierstadt, and asked if we wanted to join. We definitely wanted to rest, but we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to do something like this, so we said yes.
We chilled out the following day while Michael was at work, resting our bones and catching up on Breaking Bad. When Michael got home we packed our things up and headed to the mountain.
We slept just off the road that leads to the trail. It was a chilly night but Lilly, Michaels dog, helped keep us all warm. We woke up at 5am, it was still dark outside, we had a little breakfast, and did a little stargazing, you could literally see the milky way, it was one of the most beautiful skies I have ever seen.
We set off to the trail just as the sun started to rise. To begin with the trail dips to the base of the mountain, then begins to wind up the mountain side. The Sun was coming up casting a shadow on our side of the mountain but bringing to life the mountain opposite. It really was something special.
As I got higher my breath began to get shorter, and my legs got heavier and heavier, Lilly was running between us all encouraging us up the mountain. Eventually I had to stop, take a breather, but stopping didn’t help, the air was just so thin you could never get your breath back, so we soldiered on.
By this point the suns raise was on us, which was a relief, because at this height it was a little chilly. Eventually we reached a lower peak, all there was left to do was a 100ft rock climb to reach the 14,264ft peak. It was a steep climb, but once you reached the top it was worth it. 360 degree views of the rockies. It was amazing.
We then climbed down again, with the help of Lilly the dog, who by this point had become the mountain mascot, willing every climber on to the finish line. We where greeted at the car park by a moose and her calf something neither of us had seen before.
Eventually we got back to Michaels house and did nothing for the rest of the day. We where all so bushed from the climb we couldn’t move. Safe to say we slept well that evening.
We spent a while longer at Michaels planning our ride through the mountains and Utah. Once the route was all sorted, and we realised we could actually cycle through Utah, we packed up and got ready to leave.
Michael and his house mates Tim and Nick where amazing, they made us feel so comfortable throughout our stay in Denver, they where great hostess and by the end, great friends.
As we set off we where greeted with the site of the rockies in front of us. Our aim for the first day was to get to Idaho Springs, which was a 32 mile ride climbing over 2000ft over the course of the day.
It was not easy. Both of us where a little over whelmed once we stopped for lunch just off Highway 70, as we ate our cream cheese bagels we dreaded the next couple of days.
After two days on the road we came to rest below the hardest road we would have to tackle on the whole trip, the Loveland Pass. This piece of road would take us up to 12,00ft within 6 miles of tarmach. It was going to be a mornings work for us. Luckily after that it was down hill for near enough 15 miles.
That morning we ate well, and cracked on. It was a real push to get to the peak. by the time we got to 12,000ft the air was so thin that stopping for a bit to get your breath back just didn’t work, so we took a few photos and just shot down the other side.
That night we camped just off Highway 70 in a forested area. We struggled to sleep very well with all the noise of the cars. Plus it was still very cold and wet outside, Colorado had been gong through a “1000 year flood” it basically had not stopped raining since we set off, apart from a few breaks in the clouds, when the sun would warm you for an hour or so before the rain would come back.
When we woke in the morning everything was wet. we longed for extend periods of sun just to dry the tent at the least. Unfortunately that didn’t come.
Eventually we reached Vail, a beautiful ski resort, when the sun came out as we explored, we managed to hang the tent out to dry while we had a look around. But the rain clouds descended and we had to run back to save the tent. Thankfully we got there in time, the tent was dry and packed away before the rain hit.
We set off again, from Vail it is pretty much down hill to Glenwood Springs, but we stopped for a day just before Glenwood Springs to do a Hike to Hanging Lake. We camped in the rest area car park and hiked up the following day. It was amazing. I think we have both agreed one of the most beautiful things we have seen on this trip so far.
It was an hour’s hike, but so worth it, some of the clearest water I have ever seen, with huge waterfalls falling into the lake before pouring off over the edge of the mountain. Absolutely stunning.
That afternoon we finished of the ride to Glenwood springs and found a place to camp up for the night in a small park. Glenwood Springs is quite a big place so we where a little worried we might have a little hassle camping in a public park, but we didn’t hear a peep, and both slept well.
It took us another two days to get to Grand Junction, this was the point when we knew we where over the rockies, the hardest part of our trip was done, and we where bushed. We couldn’t believe we had managed it, also in quicker time than we originally thought.
We where now 20 odd miles from the Utah border, life was about to change drastically, from wet mountains to dry deserts. We where now going to have to be very smart with our water, and also think about camping spots because snakes, scorpions and spiders could now be a massive problem for us.
When we crossed into Utah the next day it dawned on us, 4 more states to go.
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