Arriving in Summit County, CO was such an emotional experience for me. As I rode down into Silverthorne, past the town, past the neighborhood where I had lived, I felt a sense of longing to be back there, of time and memories now so long gone, they seemed fuzzy and as though they were lifetimes ago. As I reached Lake Dillon, I thought of Nanuk my first dog and how we spent so many days playing outside near Lake Dillon together, how I had enjoyed the mountains with her for so many years and shared so many summits and adventures with her. The feeling of sadness and an extreme sense of loss came over me. I got off my bike and walked it up to the parking area above the Lake. Mark was there, I was so excited to see him, although I didn’t quite know how to act because of the COVID and because it had been so many years since I had seen him. Mark has and always will be a very special person to me. He has always been a great friend and even though time and distance have separated us, we immediately connected like we always had. He helped me put my bike in the back of his truck and we headed to eat Mexican food. I enjoyed the rest of the day off with him and fell asleep as I always had when I had sleepovers with him- while watching a movie and chatting about life.
In the morning, I rode the easy paved bike path from Lake Dillon into Breckenridge. I was completely overwhelmed with how busy it was, how things were so very different and fancy and new. Not the Breckenridge I knew. I met my friend Teague for lunch after doing errands around town and then I met my friend Carol for a second lunch 🙂 the weather began to change, it began to rain and there was a bitter coldness to the 9000 foot town of Breckenridge. Mark picked me up right as the weather got real bad and I went back to his warm house for the night. The next day, I took the day off, Mark had to work. I stayed at his place and watched junk tv, did a few more errands and stocked up on food. I wanted to stay in Summit, I didn’t want to go. I missed all of my friends and I missed the mountains, the stillness and the beauty and the high alpine air. I have always considered Summit to be my home in many ways because I spent so many years there, I lived there longer than I have anywhere else. I felt so sad to have to leave, but, I knew I had to eventually ride off and continue my journey. I wished that day had lasted forever, but, of course it didn’t.
The next day, it was freezing outside in the morning as I gathered up my things and packed my bike up. Mark drove me back into Breckenridge where I had stopped and we said goodbye. Mark is used to me leaving and wandering and we both know I will eventually return to Summit to visit. I rode to Clints Bakery to get a bagel and then peddled out of town towards the top of Boreas Pass. I climbed past neighborhoods filled with memories, I thought about all the winters I had spent snowboarding there and when the road turned to dirt the views of the ten mile range blew me away. The mountains, the fall colors, the smell of the air, it was all perfect. All wonderful. After climbing for ten miles I reached 11, 482 feet, the summit of Boreas Pass. Yay!!! It was beautiful up there and I was happy that the climb wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. Now, it was time for almost 40 miles of down and easy riding all the way into Hartsel. However, nothing is truly downhill for that long- there’s always those annoying little ups and downs and twists and turns. Always!! I got into Hartsel early afternoon and hitched into Alma to see my good friend Beth. The men that gave me a ride were from Arizona 🙂 it made me feel homesick for Flagstaff and my life back there. They drove me right up to her house and helped me get my bike out of their truck before saying goodbye. I hadn’t seen Beth in probably 6 years or so and she has a new little chicken noodle, so I was excited to meet her and reconnect. It was as though no time had pasted. Instantly, we were back together like the old days. Except she’s a mom now and it was wonderful to see her as a mom and see what a great job she was doing. So proud of her. I enjoyed a home cooked meal and a night of laughs and making future plans to adventure together like we used to do.
I woke up late the next day, I lingered around her house, again finding myself not wanting to leave. But I had to. Beth, her daughter, Raven and Nollie dog walked me up to the highway where I was going to hitchhike back to Harstel where I had left the route the day before. I was having a hard time getting a hitch, having a bike makes it way more of a challenge and the traffic was slow in the direction I needed to head. After 35 minutes I finally got a hitch from this utility company worker. By the time I got back to where I had left the route it was almost 11am. I still had to ride into Salida and I knew there was a lot of climbing and rough roads to get there. To be continued..