Vail is in a ski area at around 3000m high. We figured out already, there are no campgrounds nearby and from all the Warmshowers contacts we tried to make contact with, no one responded.
In Vail we reassemble our bikes, eat a burrito at the local Mexican in the bus transit center and start cycling. It’s 18:30 already so we want to go just out of town to find a wild camp. As always we find one, definitely not the best one but it’s dark already so we’re not to picky. It’s 10km out of town along a old railway.
The next day we ride into a small village for some coffee and groceries before we continue cycling south over highway 24. The road goes uphill into the mountains, the scenery is beautiful and very different from what we’ve seen for so far in the north. It’s more red and some places look like dessert. We cycle through canyons and along empty ghost towns and a no longer in use railway. At the end of the day we find a state campground along Turquoise Lake.
Our neighbors aren’t very quite but there we have earplugs for.
The next morning they’re up very early because they had frozen their asses off. They left the campground earlier then we even got out of bed?
The ride today starts with us coming out of to mountains heading to Buena Vista. In Buena Vista it’s warm, perfect for a midday break.
We end the day at a recreation area found by our iOverlander app. The spot is in a kind of small canyon where the first cactuses can be found. So watch out with our air mattresses.
When we start off the next day we expected to go down hill. The first 15km we do actually but from there it’s just climbing, climbing, climbing. We just go straight up with a max of 8kmp/h for four and a half hours in a row. The road is narrow and quite busy. We take lots of extra breaks. The top is another continental divide pass. When we hit the top at 3.450m it’s already 18.30h so we have to find ourselves a camp spot for the night before it gets dark. Just a few minutes after the top we see a small dirt road going into the woods. Nice one, that’s gonna be our spot for tonight. Because we’re still quite high in the mountains the night is cold but filled with millions of stars again.
For breakfast we have a 15km long 6% grade down hill ride. For a cyclist, that’s a pretty nice breakfast ?
The wind is pretty strong from the west the rest of the day… and guess what, we’re going west. We’re really done with the headwinds by the time we hit the town of Gunnison.
At the local supermarket we bump into AJ & Sarah, a couple who’s here for hiking in the mountains. They hear our stories and are super enthusiastic and wanna support us by getting us a few cold beers. Thanks guys ?
In town we found a free spot for camping on our app but on arrival we see a “No Camping” sign. Hmmm bummer. When we cycle back to the main road a guy in a truck passes us with ? out of his window. When we pass him again we stop and start a small talk. He introduces himself as Bryan and he appears to be the owner of a festival ranch which we just passed. Bryan is into cycling as well and invites us to camp at his I Bar Ranch tonight. He tells “there will be a wedding tomorrow but by the time it starts you will be gone already.”
Funny detail: we have our first wedding anniversary tomorrow.
The festival area is setup for the wedding already and looks great. We bet it’s gonna be an awesome party.
When we break up the next morning we speak Bryan again, he wishes us a nice trip and safe travels. We wish him a kick ass party.
In town we hop into a small cycling shop with a coffee bar to post another blog and hang around online for a while. It’s already in the afternoon when we leave town, up to Blue Mesa Reservoir, a large lake with a campground at the end. The wind is still strong and from the west and we’re still going west. Really killing and demotivating. When we finally hit the campground we meet Nicky and her husband. After a talk they offer us a beer and when we put up our tent Nicky comes over to offer us a meal as well. Lovely ?
No cooking and Mexican beer for us tonight on our wedding anniversary.
But not everyone is so kind to us today. When the park ranger comes along he tells us we’re not allowed to stay where we pitched our tent and we have to move it to the other side of the campground. What the #%*$, who cares, the campground is nearly empty this time of year. It’s already dark when we move our tent.
The next morning our friendly neighbours are gone already when we cycle along their space. We head on to Black Canyon today witch means a lot up and down. We know at the end of the day we have to finish the day with a 10km straight up climb to Black Canyon. At one moment we’re already at the same altitude as the National Park so we try to find a straight way through the mountains without have to go down again and avoid the final climb at the end of the day. We find a small country road over gravel on our gps which we can take. When we cycle in the road, just a few hundred meters a farmer shows up in his truck. He doesn’t smile at all and sends us back to the main highway because we’re on his private property and there is now way through the mountains to Black Canyon… he says…
Back on the highway we go down all the way we came up in the last few hours to go up again at the end of the day.
The 10km climb took us a hour but it was worth the climb as you can see below. Black Canyon is stunning, even with all the rain we’ve got.
After all the rain we have to go down over the same 10km road we came up over to go to Black Canyon. The road down just takes us 10 minutes. Wow, we think back at yesterday…it took us 60min to go up and for today it is only 10min to go down again!! We cycle into the city of Montrose where we’ve organised a Warmshowers host. Quite nice after all the rain and bad weather.
We stay for just one day because we’re a bit in a hurry to go south because the winter is coming and our visa is expiring in a few weeks already.
The next day of cycling is in the rain again and strong wind ahead. After we did some shopping in town and left Montrose for what it was we head south to Ridgway. After a hours cycling as we’re standing on the side of the road a car stops right in front of us. A lady jumps out and starts waving at us. When she’s coming closer she asks us where we gonna stay tonight. “No idea yet” is our answer. She invites us in her house in Ridgway because all the rain. Probably we looked very miserable at that moment 😉
She introduces herself as Debbie, gives us her address, jumps in het car and off she is again.
Funny how things can go unexpected. In the first place we didn’t plan to stay in Ridgway at all but we end up with Debbie for two days, eating pizza, hiking and replanning our whole trip thought the rest of the States.
We figured out, even with the bus trip we did a few weeks ago we’re not gonna make it in time to the Mexican border unless we go straight south from where we are now and skip all the National Parks. And even then we are not gonna end up in the Baja California but on the Mexican Mainland.
So we booked a rental car from Montrose (yes we have to cycle back for that) to San Diego, just a few miles north of the Baja California. Together with Debbie we figure a doable route through a lot of National Parks. Hopefully it works out. Will be continued…
Hallo Arjan en Kim het is weer een mooi verhaal. Zijn jullie al weer op weg naar mexico. Kim war een mooie murs heb je gebried had je daar wel tijd voor. Gr Pa