After a night sleeping in a lush, moist, and verdant basin, we awakened to more rain pattering on the van's roof. Yet again, we hung out in the van waiting for a break in the aerial assault before heading out for our adventures. R chose an acrobatic pose for eating his breakfast. Isn't it uphill to the stomach in that position? Our boy makes me laugh every single day.
I decided to ride on jeep roads that day because they'd let me access alpine passes that I'd otherwise never see. From my first pedal stroke, the road pitched up toward the sky. Fortunately, I love climbing mountains on my bike. In fact, I must confess that I love going uphill better than going downhill. After my sleepy muscles woke up, I settled into a steady pedaling rhythm to slowly ascend toward the first mountain pass.
The weather still looked threatening, to put it mildly. However, I adored the clanging contrast of the ominous skies with the late-summer mountain meadows.
The view from the pass was amazing.
Very few jeeps were on the roads yet but one friendly driver insisted on taking my photo next to the sign for the pass.
I didn't linger for long on the windswept and cold pass. I hopped back on my bike and started the spine-rattling descent before Raynaud's Syndrome could take possession of my fingers. After a very brief and fast flight downward, I hit bottom and was climbing again. At the start of the next climb, I saw two classic Colorado sights. The first was a mine, still being worked by a crew of men using shovels. I thought that we'd left the environmental disaster of searching every mountainside for precious metals behind us. My thoughts were bolstered by the chalk white creek flowing below the mine - the chalk color was a sign of cadmium, a mining by-product, poisoning the water. This poison hurts birds by preventing them from producing sufficiently thick shells to protect their embryos. (Zoom in to see the men working near the middle of the photo)
Then, less than a mile further along, hundreds of sheep dotted the green mountainside. Sheep grazing on public lands was a driving force in the extermination of wolves and grizzly bears from Colorado.
I put those sights behind me as the climb grew steeper and rougher.
Very few motorized vehicles attempted this ascent but one put a smile on my face. As a blue jeep passed me, the cowboy driver slowed (yes, we have real cowboys out here), pointed his index finger directly at me and said, "You are the toughest mofo out here"! When I told the Runner about this encounter, he reminded me that the jeep driver didn't even know that about 6 months earlier, I'd had to cajole a nurse to allow me to walk half the length of a hospital corridor. And, she allowed it only with the stipulation that the Runner push my IV cart for me. The body's ability to heal itself is astounding.
As I neared the next pass, an endless green meadow with three watery jewels in the middle stretched out beside me.
When I reached the pass, I felt like I'd ascended to the tippy top of the world. I gazed out across an ocean of mountain peaks.
Then, I turned the corner and was faced with this!
I thought to myself "No, it simply isn't possible that *anyone* could go up that mountain". It turned out that the sketchy trail up the mountain was too unstable for me to ride it so I turned back. Looking at the photo, I think that it's kind of funny that I even tried.
After hail started falling, I realized that it was time to turn toward my rendezvous point with the rest of the pack. Before descending, I scanned the panorama.
And then focused on gorgeous spots within it.
As I descended, I stopped to enjoy a slope laden with wildflowers.
And then, when I was almost on the valley floor, I looked back at what I had climbed. Whew, the view made me tired.
Finally, a quick question provoked by today's canine adventure. Exactly how terrifying does R look whilst wearing a muzzle?
A woman took one look at him and started screaming hysterically like she was being attacked by a mountain lion. I am not kidding. He doesn't look *that* terrifying to me.
You may wonder why a peaceable dog like R is wearing a muzzle. It's to prevent him from eating shrooms - I have an addict on my hands. Fortunately, K completed her 12-step program last year and can now run muzzle-free in mushroom season.
If I can make my computer behave, I shall include bear video and photos very very soon.