Hot Sulphur Springs, CO
Wilderness Park Campground
It was cold this morning when we got up. After breakfast, Nathan discovered that we had miscalculated our mileage to Keystone, CO where Sara's aunt's and uncle's condo was. We originally thought it was at a bad stopping point for us, but it turns out it's actually perfect! So Nathan wrote an email to Sara saying something to the effect of "Forget about my last email; it'll work great! Can we use the condo?"
Then I updated our Twitter, and Nathan walked around in the sun because he couldn't feel his toes anymore. I thought typing would help my hands to warm up, but it only made my fingers numb. So after I wrote a little update, I joined Nathan for some pacing in the sun. Then we packed up and went to the heated bathrooms to change clothes...aahhhhh. :-)
We had 70 miles to go today, and even though the last two days had been really tough for me, I was determined to make it. I figured that even when it got hard, I would just remember that today, we were going to arrive in Hot Sulphur Springs, and that tomorrow was a rest day, and we didn't need to ride our bikes, and we could just relax all day in the hot springs. Now THAT is motivating to me.
Even though Nathan was tired too, he wasn't as tired as I was, and he was not concerned about being able to make it 70 miles today. I'm glad that my husband is stronger than I am. Otherwise, we'd both be wanting to stop all the time, and we'd never make it anywhere!
Our first destination of the day was the local gas station. We each got a coffee (because I decided that I needed a lot of caffeine, so splitting a coffee just wouldn't work), and we ate a power bar. After feeling sufficiently fueled up, we hit the road for real.
On our way out of town, we saw a cattle drive! As we rode by, several cowboys were riding around the cows whooping and yipping and making all kinds of interesting noises to get them all going the right way. We stopped to watch for a while, because it was really neat!
We made it 20 miles to Rand and stopped for lunch at the only place in town, a general store/souvenir store. We got more coffee, and we also bought some Udder Cream. We didn't have any lotion, and the sun and wind were starting to dry out our skin pretty bad. I was kind-of excited because I've heard good things about Udder Cream, but I've never tried it before. We also changed into short sleeve shirts and bike shorts, because it was getting pretty hot (again).
As we left Rand, we also left civilization for the rest of the day, and we headed into the mountains. As we started into the mountains, we had officially left the desert. There were trees, and that meant shade, and they were slowly thickening along the road. Horray!
We had a mountain pass to climb today called Willow Creek Pass. It is 9,683 feet high, about the same height as Togwotee Pass, but since Togwotee pass was under construction at the top, they gave us a ride over it in a truck, so we didn't get to actually ride to the top. Now we would have our chance to ride over a 9,600+ foot pass on our bikes. This would be the tallest pass we've ridden over on our whole trip so far. Willow Creek Pass was also a continental divide (this makes like the 10th continental divide we've ridden over now).
As we made our way up the pass, we realized that we don't really mind doing mountain passes. They are tough, but they are doable, and there is a fantastic feeling of accomplishment when we make it to the top. When we made it to the top of the pass, I was so happy because 1) we made it!, and 2) I didn't feel super tired! I think the coffee was working. Yessss!
After the pass, we had a striking realization that we had miscalculated our route (again), and we only had to go 60 miles to Hot Sulphur Springs today, not 70! I'm not sure what our problem is - this is the second time in two days we've miscalculated our distances. Apparently bike touring and math don't get along very well. Or maybe it's high altitudes and math that don't get along. Either way, who cares, we had 10 less miles to ride - yay!
We started our 10-less-miles by doing lots of downhill as we cascaded down Willow Creek Pass (major "woo-hoo"!). At a flat spot, we stopped for lunch by a river and relaxed and ate to the sound of the water going by.
Now that we were back in the mountains, we saw some really beautiful views, so we stopped to take lots of pictures.
Almost to Hot Sulphur Springs, we came over a hill and saw a beautiful view ahead of us. Framed by now-golden Quaking Aspen, we could see into a valley with a lake and a small city surrounded by mountains. We thought it was a great spot to share the view and offer our first video shout out to some of our donors: Matthew and Rachele Brownfield! Thanks guys!
As we rounded the corner, a strong headwind suddenly came at us. We had about 10 miles to go to get to Hot Sulphur Springs, and the headwind fought us for all 10 miles. Why, oh why, can't we have a day without any headwinds?!?!
When we got to Hot Sulphur Springs, I was sooo happy to have finally made it!! We were here! Tomorrow was a rest day! We could stop biking now! We did it!
We stopped at a motel to ask where a grocery store was. The owner said there wasn't one; it was closed down. Then he asked about our trip, and told us he had taken a bike tour across the USA and across Europe when he was a teenager. Woah! After seeing how impressed we were, he practically begged us to stay at his hotel. After all it was "only 44.95 a night". We declined saying that we were staying at a free campground just up the road.
Since there wasn't a grocery store, we went out to eat, and after filling our tummies, we found the campground and started setting up camp. I went to change clothes in the porta-potty, and when I came back, our neighbors had come over and the guy, John, was saying to Nathan, "Excuse me, but that's f**king awesome!". I assume they were talking about our trip.
I walked up and said hello, and the lady introduced herself as Carol and said, "Hey. We're barging. Hope you don't mind."
They were amazed by our bike trip. I think we almost reached hero status in their eyes.
They said they were going to the hot springs, and we wanted to go with them, but since there wasn't a reduced rate at night, we decided to wait until tomorrow.
While talking to them, we found out that tickets were $17.50 each, and towel rentals were $1.50 each. We had heard that the springs were just $10 per person, so finding out it was actually $19 per person was a bummer.
After we set up our tent under the beautiful fall colors of the park, we still had some time before dark, so we decided to take a walk around town to cool off our muscles and see what was here. Well, there's not much, so the walk was pretty short. Most everything seems to be closed down for the season.
At one point, we heard some loud music, so we walked over to check it out. It turns out it was all coming from a stereo at someone's house!! We could hear the music very clearly and loudly from blocks away! We laughed and couldn't believe it.
We ended the night in our usual way, with Nathan on the computer and me reading my book.
I'm so happy to be here and to have a rest day tomorrow! Goodnight, all.