Colorado gets Steep – Fed by Mennonites – Meet the Hoodoos – Cycling the Great Divide, USA

We left Breckenridge to head up the Boreas Pass, which was a gentle climb up to 11,482 feet through aspen forests.

Leaving the touristy ski resort of Breckenridge we cycled higher, up over the Boreas Pass. Heading down the other side was not such fun as the 25 mile descent had a washboard surface which is what happens when cars are driven badly on dirt roads and meant that by the time we reached the valley by recently broken hand was badly bruised.

There were great views from the top
Heading down from the Boreas Pass on a washboard surface for 25 miles.

Arriving in the valley was like moving into another universe after being in affluent, touristy Breckenridge.  At first sight the near ghost town of Como looks like any other, until you realise that all the well maintained houses are empty and only 14 people live here. This was the first place people had refused to give us water on the grounds that it was so polluted that even filtering it did not remove the foul smell.  We camped behind the large community hall and watched as no lights came on in the houses.  The spooky feel was added to later, once it got dark,  by the howling of a pack of coyotes nearby.

Camping the the ghost town of Como was spooky, with coyotes calling nearby

Arriving in Hartsel we found one or two more people, but the town was very run down. They did have a great cafe, which was good as we were running low on food. They were happy for us to fill up with water, but this still had the smell of old mine pollution.

Arriving in Hartsel, there was at least a cafe
We solved my painful hand problem by using pipe lagging on my thumb, and later by lagging the handlebar.

After that the climbing got more serious. We started climbing some high and steep passes, generally camping at around 3000 meters (9850 feet) at night and cycling over passes of 3500 meters (11,500 feet) during the day.

Heading up a steep pass, around 3000 meters
In addition to our normal luggage we were also carrying 4 days of food about 7 kgs, (when I say we I mean Bernie.)
The advantage of camping high is the stunning morning views, the disadvantage was that it was literally freezing at night.  Our water bottles froze and our tent poles froze to the tent (and my toes froze!)
After a series of higher and higher passes
we finally made it over Indiana Pass, which at 3640 meters (11,950 feet) was the highest on our trip, so all down hill from here, or not!
Dropping down into the valley from the high passes,
We came across sandstone rock formations called Hoodoos. Not sure what you think but to me this one looks like a goblin climbing over the top.
And these ones definitely have faces
Or maybe we have just been out here too long!
As we neared New Mexico we went through an area rich in iron and copper deposits.
The hills were multi-coloured red, yellow and green
And the waterways were stained yellow and red.  We had been warned not to drink any of the water in this area due to natural leeching and man-made mining pollution. This meant we had had to carry and extra 6 litres of water (6 kgs) up the pass.
You can see what attracted the attention of the early prospectors.
Luckily as we descended the water quality improved.
This is all that remains of the early prospecting town at Summitville.
And this old truck.

The weather was getting unpredictable as we arrived at the appropriately named Storm King Pass campsite. As we had hardly seen a soul for a couple of days it was a suprise to find about 50 people sitting in rows in the campsite.  The women were wearing long dresses and had covered hair. It turned out they were Mennonites on a picnic. Several of them came over to chat with us, and as the skies opened and the torrential rain started they cut us extra logs for a fire and gave us home made stew and cheesy potatoes. If any of you are reading this, thank you, it was very much appreciated.

2 thoughts on “Colorado gets Steep – Fed by Mennonites – Meet the Hoodoos – Cycling the Great Divide, USA

  1. Great to hear from you again. I am impressed by your progress. You have had amazing experiences in each of the western states. Best wishes are you continue. Ellen

    1. Hi Ellen, We have, in fact, got down to Silver City, NM, and the end of the ride, I am just a bit behind with the blog as we have been out in the wilderness for a while with no wifi access. Even in Silver City, which is a great place, I am having access and download issues. It’s been a really hard ride but now it’s finished it is a bit odd.

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