Location: Sawmill Gulch outside Granby, CO
The rain poured so hard last night that I felt as though I were inside a snare drum. The rattle of raindrops on my rain fly rattled so loudly and constantly that I had to put in my earplugs to dull the noise. Once I had done that, I slept well. I rolled only a couple times in the night, and I slept comfortably on the long soft grass. Brian said that the sprinklers in the park turned on in the night, and apparently those in our zone ran for fifteen minutes. I didn’t hear them, but Brian said that the noise of water hitting his tent was too unbearable to sleep. The rapid fire of the stuttering sprinkler and then the long sweep of water repeated for fifteen minutes were monotonous and intolerable. I’m sure fifteen minutes in the dark seemed like an hour.
We woke this morning to partly cloudy skies. When the sun was out it was warm, when not it was cold. We dried our gear in the blustery winds. Some was wet from rain, some from sprinklers. We casually packed up and moved out after breakfast and a phone call to Katie. The wind blew hard and in the worst direction, straight at us. We pedaled twenty two miles to Rand, a tiny mountain town with a gift store, grill, and a post office no larger than a one car garage. When we finally arrived, we felt as though we had biked fifty that morning. I reached Rand a few minutes before Brian, and I put on two jackets and my beanie to keep warm in the strong winds.
We stepped inside the gift shop at Rand, trying to keep warm, but also to see if there were any souvenirs we wanted. I’m still set on making a big purchase by which to remember the trip. It will likely be a painting, but I think I’ll buy mine in NC, one done by a local artist there and about a theme closer to home.
While we were in the store, the wind blew out the power, and we and other customers browsed books, candles, and home décor in the dark. While browsing through the many great books, I found on that caught my eye, Nothing in the World like It: The men who built the Transcontinental Railroad. The topic struck me because I know nothing about it and because of the sentimental aspect of reading about another transcontinental mission while on my own. I have finished The Killer Angels, and I figured I should keep reading since I rarely get the chance to at home. Surprisingly, out here, biking fifty miles a day and seeing places I’ve never seen, I find I have more time for leisure activities like reading and writing.
We set out on the road again after a long break in Rand. We munched on snacks for lunch on large rocks on the edge of the road. We couldn’t escape the wind, so we ate our lunch while holding everything in our hands to keep it from blowing away.
We crossed Willow Creek Pass ten miles out of Rand. The pass is our second to last major pass until the plains. We’ve come to a USFS campsite in a wooded gulch, and wind continues to funnel through the valley. A cold front has just arrived, and the cold rain has brought with it cold temperatures. I’m glad soon to be out of the cold and in the heart of the plains, though once there I’m sure I’ll be wishing for cooler weather.
It’s Monday night on Labor Day, and the campsite is nearly empty besides us. A retired geology professor and his wife are a few trees down from us. The y brought us a few beers and sat for a while as we made dinner. Just before they came over, a passerby in a car from California pulled into the campsite to walk his dogs. He was directing a documentary on the Western Pine Beetle, which he showed us is destroying the forest. It infects and then destroys the pines, leaving them brown and gray. The brown foliage I’ve thought to be the seasonal changing of trees is actually due to the beetle, which the man claims will eventually kill every tree in the forest. I didn’t have any knowledge of them back east, so I’ll have to look into it. He was passionate about the threat and asked that we write our congressman to give more money to the Forest Service so that they can research the beetle and defend the Western Pine Forest. The man was adamant and angry and eventually excused himself because of his out-of-control passion, leaving Brian and I wondering if he was a bit dramatic about the issue or if it truly was a serious threat.
Anyway, I have to get warm in my sleeping bag and start my new book. I’m so cold. My fingers hardly work so excuse the poor writing and illegibility of my scribble. These summer nights in Colorado are cold as any winter night back home.