Walden to Rustic: Heading back into familiar territory
Monday June 28, 2010, 58 miles (93 km) – Total so far: 2,145 miles (3,452 km)
Jen has decided to ride with me today to ensure she makes it to Rustic by noon. One of her supervisors has been hassling her to cut her holiday short and return to work since the day we were in Fairplay. There aren’t many people in Jenny’s profession and they really need her to head down to the Gulf of Mexico to do some work on the wildlife and policy side of the oil spill disaster. So she has arranged for a friend from Fort Collins to meet us in Rustic and drive her back to town so she can fly out tomorrow. I never want a job like Jen’s where I am required to take my cell phone with me on holiday so I can always be contacted! It’s very good that Jenny is passionate about what she does so she can put up with that sort of stuff.
Jen comes by and Mom has coffee ready for her. After the necessary caffeine consumption, we start out as the sun begins to rise. It is another beautiful morning. Crisp and cool and clear. We can ride side-by-side over much of the flat bits leaving town as there’s no traffic out yet. It’s awesome to watch our shadows moving over the sagebrush with a backdrop of a clear blue sky and near full moon. We also see two large male moose (Jen says it’s uncommon to see male moose together) cross the road in front of us and then run along through a field. We catch up to them again later as we climb a hill out of a creek.
Once we get to the section where the road starts to gently climb, Jen tucks in behind and I ‘pull’ her along. There’s the ever-so-slight beginnings of a headwind, and it’s only 7:00am, so I’m glad for the early start. We pass through Gould and past the state park visitor centre – averaging just about 12 mph. Just before we start the real climb up Cameron Pass, we stop to take off layers. The mozzies attack – they’re pretty full-on! And then we begin the climb. It’s in the 5% grade range, so it’s a very pleasant climb. I pull ahead of Jen but stop to wait for her a couple times. It doesn’t take long to get to the top – the western approach is quite short, especially compared with the 60 miles of ‘up’ coming from the Fort Collins side.
There’s good pavement down from the top of the pass and there are no tight curves, so we can just cruise and coast without having to brake or pedal if we don’t care to. We’re both quite familiar with the canyon and all the trailheads and campgrounds along the way. We get to the Poudre River Resort and spend some time there sitting in the shade and having a drink while we watch the hummingbirds around the feeder. We don’t need to be in Rustic, just down the road, for a while yet. Finally, we head down and find a place where we can watch for Jen’s friend and for Mom. Rustic still has a general store, bar, restaurant and campground – and just like all the times I was up this way when I was in college, there’s still a bunch of middle-aged stoner guys hanging out by the bar. We avoid the guys and deflect their comments and find a spot in the shade to talk about our 10-year plans or lack thereof, and what Jen might do to celebrate the completion of her PhD next year (she’s going to hike the Colorado Trail).
Everyone’s timing is pretty good – even Zach and Becca come by in the time we’re there in Rustic transferring all the gear from Mom’s CRV to Jen’s friend’s pick-up truck. Zach and Becca are battling that headwind down-canyon and they’ll have it all the way into Fort Collins. It will be a long day for them. We then do all the hugs and goodbyes, since I’ll fly back to Australia before Jen returns from the Gulf. It’s been such a privilege to get to spend so much time with Jen. I suspect we’ll always remain friends, even though we lead very different lives. Mom and I then have a relaxing lunch in the restaurant before heading back up to the Poudre River Resort to the cabin we’re staying in tonight. We can’t think of hiking trails we want to do that won’t be mozzie-ridden up-canyon or out in the sun down-canyon, so we just opt to sit down by the river and relax. I feel better today but my cough is worse. I can’t believe the ride is all over tomorrow.
Ave speed: 13.7 mph Max speed: 32.9 mph
Elevation start: 8099 ft. Elevation end: 7160 ft.
Cameron Pass: 10,276 ft. Ave grade: 3% Max grade: 5%