Sleepless in Silverton
After a solid 22 hours of bikepacking, you would think that sleep would come quite easy. However, I lay there for 5 hours wide-awake. I practiced my Yoga Nidra routine and meditated (that’s supposed to be as restorative as sleep). At 6am, I packed up my things and went to the coffee shop for hot breakfast burritos and coffee then resupplied at the grocery store.
Off to Stoney Pass
It’s a dirt road. I should be able to just ride right up it,… right? Wrong. It’s 5 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Oh yeah. And my shifter blew up about 2 miles into the climb. After working on the shifter for about 30 minutes, I was able to get it to stay in the granny gear. I just had to remember not to shift at all. Turns out that I would spend most of the day pushing my bike anyway, so I didn’t really need gears much at all. Later, I was able to get the bike to shift between the 3 easiest gears and this would hopefully work well enough to get me to Buena Vista.
Ewe Are Not Alone
Once I pushed my bike up to the Cataract Ridge, I saw a huge herd of sheep. There were hundreds of them on the mountainside and obstructing the downhill part the trail!! After pushing my bike for over 5 hours, I felt I had earned a good downhill and was worried that the sheep would spoil the fun for me. But, I hopped on the bike, rolled down the hill at top speed and the sheep went running off the trail like Moses parting the Red Sea!!!! It was like sheep bowling!!
Later on, I started yo-yo-ing the trail with some guy who came all the way from Ecuador to ride this crazy race. We were both struggling with the hike-a-bike and high elevation (we spent most of this day above 13,000 feet elevation). We ended up spending the next 4 days together on the trail. I wouldn’t learn his name until later the next day.
I struggled with fatigue and was anxious that I needed to sleep before reaching Coney, the highest point on the Colorado Trail. This meant sleeping at 12,300 feet, which would not be good for my lungs. But I didn’t think I could push any further without sleep. The guy from Ecuador tried to push me a bit further. Had I been familiar with the terrain, it probably would’ve been wiser to push a bit further as the climb to Coney was pretty easy, only 1 mile away, and followed by a pretty fun descent.
Ultimately, I just felt too tired to move anymore. I had to set up camp. The guy from Ecuador camped with me because we were benefitting from each other’s company. While setting up camp, my CamelBak hose got caught in my wheel and the Hydrolock from the mouthpiece (the part that keeps the water from just pouring out of the hose) got pulled off and lost in the weeds. Water leaked everywhere with only ½ liter remaining. Thank goodness I had thought to bring a spare bladder with me.
Once we settled into our bivies, I was able to fall asleep quite easily. The weather was warm and the wind was calm. I slept soundly until 2am and it felt GOOD!