May 9, 2015

Day 52: Winter Park

This Alaskan Moose head is located in the foyer of the Alpine Slopes Lodge where I stayed last night. I was suprised at it's size; I knew they were big, but not that big!

So today a whole new plan was enacted. Originally I intended to go to Idaho Springs; take a rest day and climb Mt Evans (the highest paved road in America); then to Estes Park to traverse the Trail Ridge Road (the highest pass in the USA); and then on to Steamboat Springs. However, the forecast is for 10 - 20 inches of snow in the area on Saturday/Sunday. Moreover, the wintery conditions are predicted to last well into next week.

Whereas, Steamboat Springs, northwards (the direction in which I'm travelling), is predicted to have good weather from Monday. So the plan is to get to Steamboat Springs for Saturday evening, take a rest day on Sunday, then onwards towards Wyoming on Monday.

To accomplish this an alternative route from that previously envisaged will be taken, which means no Mt Evens or Trail Ridge Road. Instead after traversing Loveland Pass (11,990ft) it is a traverse of the Berthoud Pass (11,315ft) to Granby today, and then onto Steamboat Springs on Saturday.

The climb upto Loveland Pass was okay and although there was a little snow fall and drizzle I was warm. However, close to the summit the weather deteriorated dramatically and on the descent I became so cold that I had to stop and put on my down jacket, a second pair of gloves and long trousers. By the time I reached Georgetown I was ready to envoke ISoP 12 when the sun came out! So after some food and a front wheel puncture repair I decided to press on over the Berthoud Pass, some 16 mile climb. Amazingly, although the weather deteriorated again, I felt euphoric on more than one occasion during the climb and, fortunately, at the pass there was a warm hut which I was able to use to put on all of my additional clothes.

Nonetheless, by the time I reached Winter Park (rather apt given the weather conditions), my hands and feet were frozen, and so I decided to call it a day (it was 7pm and getting colder and another 15 miles of cycling was deemed to be unwise). That leaves approximately 120 miles of cycling tomorrow, which may be too much given the predicted weather conditions. We shall see!

I'm sure that it will be similar to day: drizzle, rain, sleet, hail, snow, wall to wall clouds and, finally some sunshine! What is suprising is the speed of evaporation.