Neil and Mel's Big Adventure

Adventure Tunes

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mel's Newest Chapter

We're holed up in Torrey as it's snowing on Boulder Mountain. We're going to make this a rest day and just hole up here until conditions get safer. They are projected to get 6-10 inches of snow on the mountain during this storm. Becky (Neil's wife) and Nate (Neil's oldest son) joined us in Monticello. Clint (another of Neil's sons) joined us for the ride yesterday from Hanksville to here. That was really one of our best rides yet. It was cloudy and cool most of the day and not too much uphill except for the last 11 miles. I had never been to Capitol Reef before. That was a beautiful ride going through there on a bike under the best of conditions. We also saw a small herd (6) of desert big horn sheep in the park. We watched them feeding about 100 yards from us across the Fremont River. Neil talked with a lady ranger in the visitor center who said that in six years, she had never seen them. Pretty fortuitous for us. It has been great having the Spencer clan here to help us through some tough stretches and just for company. His boys wanted to experience a little of what we have been going through. In fact, even though Becky had the sag wagon to haul our gear, Nate wanted to see what it was like to pack pannier bags and gear weight on a bike. That had me scratching my head, but each to his own. In my way of thinking, if there is a sag wagon, you take full advantage of it. It was a life saver (maybe an overstatement) for us on our ride from Monticello to Lake Powell. Anyway, there was a 2000 foot elevation hill in the middle of that journey that would have put Neil and I into walking mode if Becky hadn't have been there. I told her she was "Angel Becky." In fact, Neil and I would probably have had to sleep in a ditch half way there and made a two day affair out of it. We really should have started in Blanding to make it a one day do-able journey. But we had three flat tires after leaving Dolores, Colorado. They were all on our rear wheels which meant unloading all our gear and reloading it to repair the flats. Took considerable time. We probably wouldn't have had the oomph to push on to Blanding anyway. The road into Monticello was rollers (up and down hills). Not good. We like to blow into a towns in a down-hill rush (like we did into Hanksville). We didn't get into Monticello until 7 PM. To catch you up: I think we left Telluride on Monday. We gained most of our elevation on that day's ride just outside Telluride, but we rode (not walked) most of that day's ride. We climbed up to Lizardhead Pass (10,200 feet). There was a beautiful Swiss-like Trout Lake near the top. While resting at the top, a biker blew up from the other side and we had a great visit. He was T.J. from Ricoh, twelve miles down the road. He had spent his growing up years in Wanship. We had such a great visit that he asked if he could go down the mountain with us. Sure. He was 56 years old and races mostly in New Mexico on the senior circuit. Very enjoyable. Our last presence in the Rockies ended with about a 40 mile downhill ride to Dolores. Even though it was by a river, in a beautiful forest with full-blown golden aspens, the ride was rather a blur in sameness. Dolores was kind of a hodgepodge town. Had to sleep in an RV park, but the showers revived us. At dinner in a Mexican restaurant, we met a guy named Chris who was taking off for a 5-day ride in the desert in Blanding. He wondered if we might meet him there when he pushed off in a few days. Sure enough, we did, and he rode out of Blanding with us for about 8 miles. He had a Surly bike similar to mine and had it outfitted with chopped off plastic water containers for panniers on the back and old front panniers. Another gritty guy. I had another flat on the way out of Monticello. Technically it wasn't a flat, but a leak from the patch we had put on previously so we just changed out to a new tube. As I mentioned, Becky hauled us over the tough climb and a little more to make it easy for us. We still rode 57 miles, but we did in one day what it probably would have taken Neil and I two days to do. Plus there was no services (that is, no water or diet Coke) between Blanding or Lake Powell. We would have had our tongues hanging out. It was very strange for Neil and I to be in the Rockies at 10000 feet and two days later be in the 85 degree heat on the shores of Lake Powell. We really couldn't get over it. And now we are looking out at Boulder Mountain enveloped in a snow cloud. Last night I slept in the tent and the approaching storm winds really whipped the tent--making a racket. So we'll take our rest day today and just hole up here in Torrey and hope for a clearing to proceed maybe tomorrow, but more likely, maybe Monday. We'll just listen to Conference and find a church in town to go to general priesthood meeting tonight. Nate, Clint, and Fisher (Nate's 3-year old son) just took off to head back to Salt Lake. It was great having them here. Becky (aka Angel Becky) is staying with us for at least tonight or until we begin riding again. Mel

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