I am a little nervous about crossing the continental divide. I am not a good climber. When I started the day, I was only about 18 miles from the crest of Monarch Pass, but with almost 4000 feet of climbing to get there. I have never climbed that much in one day before, especially in such a short distance.
Before leaving today, I took a look at my maps and wrote down the different potential places to stay between Poncha Spring and the divide, with miles and number of feet to climb to get to each one. The slope gets steeper as it gets closer to the divide. Since it is only 18 miles, I thought there was a slight possibility that I might make it all the way to the top today, but decided I won’t get too down on myself no matter where I decide to stop.
The first opportunity to stop was nine miles and 1142 feet. While I did ride slowly, it didn’t take too long to reach that first checkpoint. After a short break, I continued on.
Four miles down the road, and another 1000 feet up the mountain, I reached a large ski lodge. I stopped to make some lunch and rest for a while. The divide was only about five and a half miles away, but I still had over 1700 feet to climb. The next potential place to stop was three miles and 950 feet down the road.
I was pretty worn down at this point, so decided to stop at the ski lodge. It was a huge building, but because it is the off season there were only about a dozen of us staying the night. The outside looked kind of bland, maybe a little run down, but the inside was very nice and the rooms were spacious. Once checked in, I collapsed in the bed and took a nice long nap.
The lodge opened their restaurant for the few of us staying there. While eating some dinner, I got to talking to an architect from Washington, D.C. who is hiking the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail goes about 500 miles from Durango to Denver. He had given himself a month to complete the hike. Unfortunately, his month was coming to an end and he was not close to Denver. As of tonight, he planned to finish his hike in Leadville. I guess I’m not the only person who underestimates the time it will take for a long journey. I tried to convince him he needs to try bicycle touring. Since he lives in D.C., he could ride the C&O and GAP to Pittsburgh. That would be a nice first tour, as long as it didn’t rain on the C&O. I don’t think he was sold on the idea.