Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Short Story: Grizzly Bear in Camp in Montana

It was the day we had been thinking about since we rolled out of Calgary: crossing back into America from Canada. We spent our last night in Canada at a provincial campground and then stopped at a rural convenience store in the morning for supplies, just a few miles north of the U.S. border. The owner of the store was missing quite a few teeth, but he was as friendly as can be. We briefly chatted about grizzly bears and Canada's strict laws on handguns before we went on our way.

After a few miles on a quiet highway, the border station came into view. We biked up to the border agent, showed him our passports, and he asked us if we were carrying any raw meats or vegetables with us. We answered no (honestly), and he let us through. The whole process took only a minute or so.

It felt good to be in America, but still, with around 2,300 miles to go until Mexico, there was still no clear sense of direction. We took every day as it came, never really paying attention much to long terms plans except to stay roughly on track with our mileage-per-day. That was one of my favorite parts about the trip.

The US-Canada border was clearly visible in the mountains - they had clear cut a stretch to mark the border as far as the eye could see - and it was a reminder of the arbitrariness of country borders. But I digress.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Great Divide Chapter 6: Breckenridge to Cuba, NM

Day 31 - Breckenridge to Salida

The AirBNB was near downtown Breckenridge, so our day started at the base of Boreas Pass Road, where we climbed around 2,000 feet to the pass, which was at 11,400 feet elevation. My brother rode up the climb with us on a mountain bike, and at the top, my parents met us in their car. We said goodbye and rode down the backside of Boreas Pass; the next people we'd see that we knew would be Will's dad and brother at the Mexican border (well, actually, we did see Taz again).

The descent off of Boreas Pass was somewhat chunky and incredibly scenic. It seemed to go on forever, and when we finally reached the bottom, we were met with open plains and miles of fast riding. We had a strong tailwind, and the mix of gravel and pavement saw us averaging over 20mph for quite some time.

About halfway through the day, we got to Hartsel, CO, where we stopped for some lunch. The restaurant was a pleasant surprise, and if I remember correctly, we each got a pretty big burger. I think I even paid a little extra for a buffalo burger.

After Hartsel, we had a little pavement, followed by some pretty nice gravel. An afternoon storm was looming, and before long, the sky was getting dark all around us. Lightning was flashing in the distance, and, wanting to avoid getting struck with lightning, we stopped for a snack and relaxed off the side of the road for maybe half an hour while the storm passed.

We got riding again and gradually made our way uphill. We were met with a great view of the valley overlooking Salida, and we knew we wanted to camp somewhere on the downhill. We checked the maps to see what was private land, and we slowly made our way downhill searching for a camps spot. We found a pretty good spot off the dirt road just a few miles before Salida, so we stopped there for the night.

There was a fox walking around the campground, which was especially funny for me, remembering how much Dicky loved a fox in Breckenridge last year.