The morning after the big storm, we headed out to explore the Sargents Mesa area. On that day, I followed the trail south. It looked stupendous on a topo map because it hugged the Continental Divide for miles.
Alas, although we had fun, it wasn't as glorious as expected. The Colorado Trail follows ATV routes in that section, and the big powerful engines of those machines churn the trails into endless stretches of loose large rocks. Most of it was passable on a mountain bike but not fun for someone who has two long sections of her spine fused. In my optimistic moments, I convinced myself that the trail was "just about to improve, right around the next curve". I wasn't correct in my predictions... Moreover, the trail was mostly in a towering forest so I didn't have the expansive views that I expected. I didn't take any photos but I found this one on the web (here). Do you see what I mean about the rocks?
I decided to cut the ride a bit short, just going as far as a lake so that K and I could play fetch in the water. It was a beautiful high mountain lake, and both my furry friend and I had a blast playing in it. I threw sticks, and K took leaps into the water that might win a long jump contest.
She'd bring the stick back, drop it, and we'd repeat with gusto!
Just as I thought to myself that the high mountain lake made up for the pain of the spine-rattling trail, the patch of blue sky over the lake turned gray.
Then, a rumble of thunder rolled from the mountaintops. Within a minute, the sky was hurling hail onto us. The high mountains usually have a weather pattern that you can set your watch by. Sun in the morning, clouds by mid-day, and storm in the afternoon. It was hailing at 10 AM (not part of the pattern), and we were a couple of hours of hard riding from camp!
In the hail, my first problem was finding my bike. I'd dropped it when we arrived at the lake to go play with K. In the storm's clouds, I couldn't immediately pick it out from the forest - I kept visualizing trudging all the way back to camp and having to explain that I'd lost my bike! I left K in a sit stay while I frantically searched and finally found it.
I was honestly a little scared. The temperature had plummeted when the storm hit, and I was already getting cold. I donned all my new and wonderful Golite rain gear and hammered at the fastest safe pace over the now slippery and loose rocks on the trail. I took no breaks, trying to stay warm by working hard. K seemed oblivious to the rain or thunder - I wish that I had been in her state of mind instead of mine! She seemed to try to calm me with probing looks into my eyes.
Fortunately, the storm lasted less than an hour. By the time that we rolled into the meadow where we were camped, the sun shined warmly on my shoulders and K's chocolate fur.
The mountains peeked through the still-looming storm clouds behind K.
And, K and I had our photo taken as we arrived back at camp. I love getting photos, even slightly blurred ones, of the two of us having mountain biking adventures together!
It turned out that the respite from the storms was brief. We spent much of the afternoon and evening holed up, staying out of the rain and lightning. Our final vacation dinner was a Mexican feast comprised of many courses. Perfect for a stormy day in camp!
When the rain finally stopped, the sun had already set.
We went for a short walk in 'our' meadow, empty despite it being a holiday weekend, and investigated a memorial that we'd stumbled on the night before. We'd been shocked to find it in the midst of a lonesome and wild meadow.
It seemed to be a memorial associated with Vietnam but many of the inscriptions were in languages that we couldn't understand.
We couldn't figure out the theme but the many live bullets left by visitors left me wondering what it was all about. You can see the bullets on the top ledge between the granite blocks.
I haven't found any information on the web so I'm still mystified. If anyone knows about this memorial, I'd love to hear about it.
In the end, I concluded that Sargents Mesa is a gorgeous place to camp but the trails aren't great for mountain biking or hiking. That's probably why no one who we asked had ever visited this spot. We didn't regret our visit - we loved the peacefulness and complete solitude that we found in this lush meadow on top of the world.
On our last morning, I had a beautiful point-to-point ride to meet the pack at another trailhead to start our drive home. I found some smooth and fast trail and enjoyed every inch of it!
Oh how I love our mountains!