On Monday morning, Mark and I headed out from Tim's house near Fraser with the hopes of getting in a 50-mile ride. We made a wide loop around Fraser, then took Highway 40 into and through Winter Park, heading for Berthoud Pass.
I had deliberately not attempted to find out any information about the ride up to the pass because I was planning to approach it with a "clean" mental slate. We rode for about 16 miles of relatively flat land, starting at about 8600 feet and starting our ascent out of Winter Park at about 9000 feet.
The road up to Berthoud was not as steep as Rabbit Ears had been. There was a long gradual ascent out of Winter Park before the climb became a little more serious.
This ride was nothing like Rabbit Ears in terms of intensity, but it was longer, and as we approached the summit, I kept expecting to see it around the next bend in the road, only to be disappointed. Mark was patient with me, as usual, and provided encouragement to finally reach the top, for a total climb of approximately 3000 feet.
The ride down was a bit terrifying for me. We were now on the "open" side of the road for long stretches, with only a guard rail separating me from a drop of what seemed like 1000 feet. Way down below, I could see the tops of pine trees. The condition of the road was also not that great, with washboards in several places. I kept thinking that I have a long way to go toward conquering a fear of heights before we tackle the French Alps in September.
We cut short our return ride a little bit because we had been gone longer than anticipated. By the time we pulled into Tim's house, we had ridden 47.5 miles. We then changed, grabbed Nathan and headed to Winter Park for a late lunch, hoping to look at some handmade crafts that had been brought every year by a Tibetan family from Nepal. It turned out, however, that they had returned to Nepal after only a short time because of a family tragedy, so we had to settle for just lunch.
|Lunch in Winter Park|
Our intent had been to go hiking up to the Continental Divide after lunch. We drove up a gravel road just outside of Winter Park, climbing, climbing, but after driving for about 20 minutes we decided to turn around; we had apparently been misled as to the distance to the trailhead.
|Winter Park Valley stretching below us|
It was while on this drive that we saw close-hand the devastation that has been wrought by the pine beetle. We had seen it on the ride up to Berthoud Pass - brown pine trees spaced at dismayingly close quarters among the still-green pines. But on this drive, we had an even closer view. It was sad to see such devastation, as I tried to imagine what the mountainsides would have looked like before the arrival of the beetle.
That evening, we took Tim's 13-year-old daughter, who is way into dogsled racing and raising Huskies, over to her local mentor for an activity they hold every Monday evening. They invite members of the public to come and experience a "dogsled" ride. In the summer, however, the dogs pull a cart. Sophia needed to go early to help get the dogs ready and we took her over so that we could see the dogs.
What we saw was truly amazing. Dozens of Huskies and mixed-breed dogs. They had pre-selected certain dogs to participate in the pulling that evening, and we watched as Sophia and her mentor led the dogs out.
Later, after a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, we enjoyed a walk near Tim's house, taking in the views and the quiet of the evening. It had been another great day.
Next: Triple By-Pass