Location: Walden, CO (Walden City Park)
I say every time I write in my journal that I rose early this morning. Today, though, I rose really early. The sun had not yet peeked above the mountaintops, but its light shined brightly off wisps of clouds, reflecting brilliant colors of pink, orange, and gold in the mountain sky. I slept soundly, but Brian didn’t again. Just before we went to sleep last night as I lay in limbo between reality and dreaming, a Brown SUV pulled up next to the picnic tables that we were sleeping on. There were eight tables or so. Brian and I slept on two and our gear was on two. I heard a disturbance through my earplugs, and I yanked them out and sat up quickly. One guy in the truck said let’s take that one, and then another said you can’t do that, there is someone sleeping on it. I shook my head to wake my mind and began unzipping my sleeping bag in a hurry. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I didn’t like it. I sat on the edge of the picnic table tensely, ready for anything as two men in white tank top undershirts climbed down out of the truck. The younger of the two said with a little jump and outspread arms, “It’s okay. We’re just having a party and need wood for the bonfire.” The two men, clumsy and drunk, grabbed the most rickety table, one so damaged it could not be used, and they balanced it on the roof of the truck. Part of the table was balanced on the spare tire on the rear swing gate, and the drunker of the two volunteered to sit on the roof to hold it while they traveled the bumpy dirt road back to the party. The young one said it will stay, but we just have to drive really slowly. They climbed back in the truck and rolled slowly into the dark night. I saw the brake lights disappear around and the bend, so I guess they made it. When they left, though, the table was swaying back and forth on the roof of the truck.
Brian told me this morning that several incidents happened in the night which kept him awake. Several different groups of loud people came to the lake’s edge, looking for something to do on the small town Labor Day weekend Saturday night. The people, a clanging flagpole, and a strange bird kept Brian awake much of the night. I slept right though them and I felt well this morning.
I checked my cell phone shortly after waking to see if Jodie Godwin had returned my phone call. She is working at the A-Bar-A Ranch outside Encampment, WY, and our route today passed right by the town and the ranch. She had not, and I could not reach her on the ranch.
Brian and I left this morning for Encampment around 8:00. The terrain was rolling and typical, and we handled it quickly. We were at the visitor’s center just outside Encampment at 10:00, and shortly after that we were in the town. A strong wind had picked up throughout last night and this morning, and I was reluctant to head back out on the road and pedal into it. We ate lunch at the small park in town, and then we went to the market and I bought a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream. I ate the pint at a picnic table in the park while Brian munched on Wheat Thins and Easy Cheese squirt cheese. The ice cream and windy afternoon made me so cold I had to put on several layers of clothes to stay comfortably warm.
Around 1:00, we went to the Encampment Museum, a small museum detailing the pioneering and early settlement of the area. The collection of photos and artifacts were interesting, but the museum wasn’t that interesting because I didn’t have a close connection to the town. I did take some mental notes of the way that the archivist organized and displayed the hundred of photos of the town and its people. The exhibits give me a chance to consider how I should organize my family’s photos, especially those of granddad Kelley in China, since most photos I have are of his.
We finished with the museum rather quickly and opted not to go on the guided tour of the out buildings. We debated about how far we would bike this afternoon. I didn’t feel at all like biking 50 miles all the way to Walden, and I was putting up a bit of a fuss. We settled on the only campground between Encampment and Walden, a USFS site two miles down a dirt road. It was about 24 miles from Encampment, so about halfway to Walden.
The wind blew heavily, but it didn’t blow directly down our throats as we had expected it to. Instead, it hit us from the side, and it didn’t take too significant a toll on us. Sometimes a crosswind can be just as tiring as a headwind because it will grab the panniers and bags and push and pull violently on the bike. It can be a battle to keep a straight line on the road. The winds blew but they didn’t fatigue us, neither did the several long climbs and rolling hills. When we reached the dirt road to the campsite and saw it winding through the hills, Brian and I decided it would be best to just keep pedaling to Walden. The terrain ahead didn’t appear too difficult as we could see for miles across the high mountain fields.
We pushed through slight headwinds for 25 miles to complete the 66 mile day. It certainly was a long one, but we arrived in Walden and checked in with the Sheriff’s office around 6:30. Despite our three hour break, we reached our final destination at a very reasonable time. We are making miles more easily these days. We are in Olympian athlete shape. We stand to pedal up hills and pedal in the lowest gear down hills. We entered Colorado today. In a week, we will be through the Rockies, and I can hardly believe how quickly we’ve moved so far.