This is coming to you from the wilderness on top of Monarch Pass at an altitude somewhere above 10,000 feet. We ducked off the road in the late afternoon in a gorgeous plateau a mile short of the summit. We avoided one shower and a second was coming with lightning. So here we are, on top of the world just short of our highest pass of 11,300 feet.
It was another casual riding day, getting a full nights sleep at the International Hostel (much posher than Cyndy remembers from college days) and a filling breakfast in town at the Paradise Cafe: buckwheat pancakes with blueberries, bananas, almonds, walnuts & sesame seeds for guess who and corned beef hash for the other half of our party. We headed out around 10:40 to take the easy 28 mile downhill back to Gunnison. It was a bluebird skies day and neither of us really wanted to leave the setting was that peaceful. But we did and slipped down the hill arriving in Gunnison about 1.30 hours later to a yummy chocolate milkshake and peach by the river, then grabbed some groceries to make lunch and we were back on the road.
When we turned onto route 50 the wind was with us at about 20 MPH and my did we enjoy the ride. Stopped once for a snack on our way to Sargents where we planned to camp the night. When we arrived we still felt strong and the wind was flowing up the canyon, so after an eternity of negotiations we decided to use the wind and tackle the pass.
We rode about 3 miles up when a bit of a storm set in so we took shelter under a big pine and waited out the storm. 30 minutes or less passed and we were on our way again. Making good time up the 6 percent grade we were in sight of the summit but also in sight of a huge black cloud to the north and east. Steve was confident the huge dark cloud would slip by to the north but it began lightning and we certainly didn’t want to descend the other side into its grip, so we stopped just short of the top. Harriet & Cyndy made good progress up the hill at a cruising speed of 4.4 mph to keep the heart rate low, still surprised we stayed upright.
Our camp is level and forested and wonderful. We whipped up some camp food, pitched the tent and hung our food for the night. Finally we ate one of those freeze dried meals (beef stroganoff was pretty good with fresh baby carrots). It wasn’t so easy hanging the food, apparently we are carrying too much as the rope broke and nearly took Steve out. Perhaps we need to walk around with our bike helmets on or does Cyndy have too many snacks that shouldn’t be hanging from a limb?
Finally the sleeping bags feel good as the temps are in the 40’s. Good night, sleep tight, don;t let the mosquitoes bite.