Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Glenwood Springs. Mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers -- awesomely!

View of Mt. Sopris

Glenwood Hot Springs pool

Lots of walking alongside the wide and fast moving Colorado River.

In a timely Facebook coincidence, I was able to visit some long lost friends of Anne's, who just happen to live in one of the most picturesque locations I could have imagined.  How amazing! Also had a chance to visit the Glenwood Hot Springs, where the main pool is reputed to be the world's largest.  Great thanks to my new Glenwood Springs friends/angels, and also to the kind hosts who offered shelter in the town of Rifle a few days previously! 

Will head up the Glenwood Canyon bike/hiking trail this afternoon.  The next week or two will comprise the most challenging of the high-altitude climbing I've experienced so far - two peaks of close to 12,000', one of which is the Continental Divide.  So daily distances are hard to predict. In this stretch I will also be much more attuned to the possibility of 'wildlife encounters', and the obvious challenge of behaving responsibly with my food and other scented items while camping in the forests! Challenges notwithstanding, it is generally agreed that this is some of the most beautiful terrain in the USA - and though I have seen parts of it in the past, I now get to see it up close and at a snail's pace!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Surrender -- a train ride to Grand Junction, CO

Within a couple of days out of Price, UT, the daytime temperatures rising, I became acutely aware of the importance of finding shelter from the sun in the afternoons.  At about 25 dusty miles from Green River (especially dusty through a 2-3 mile road construction site; once again, lots of parked equipment and no people...) I took a ride with a wind-blown bodhisattva from New Mexico, wearing bib overalls and driving a rattly small  piick-up truck.  Rode with him the rest of the way into town, and was delivered right to the state park camping area where shade was available, as were showers!  It was 100 degrees and the weather forecast was calling for 'triple digit' temps over the next 10 days; 106 degrees one day?!  Studying the map was discouraging; just one service station on the 110 mile stretch to Grand Junction, and no shade in the picture.  Hmm.  'Done for' last month by serious thunder storms, and now 'done for' by heat. Re-grouping/rethinking seems to be the story of my life just  now.  So what were the options?  If I were to continue walking, finding daily shelter would be primary, and the prospects for any sort of cover in that next stretch were not optimal.

From Nevada to western Colorado people have spoken of an 'unseasonably' wet spring season after a dry winter.  And now that the storm systems seem to have blown over the temperatures have turned abruptly, and are now hotter than usual for early summer. Just my luck...

Conveniently enough, though most of the trains I've seen have been freight trains, Amtrak has a stop in Green River; it's the 'California Zephyr' route I have ridden several times in the past.  In a burst of nostalgia (and survivalist practicality) I decided to take the train to Grand Junction, even though it meant that I would not walk into Colorado.  As I remembered, the train runs alongside the Colorado River for much of the 2 hour trip, in a wide red-rock canyon.  Beautiful scenery and the river rafters were out in force.

Daytime temperatures are still topping 100 degrees.  However, from Grand Junction I can plot a course with the more frequent service points (and towns) as goals, rather then thinking in terms of daily distances. This will help me get to the higher elevations of the Rockies, where it will be somewhat cooler.  The road also follows the Colorado River for much of the way, so I'm hoping for access to some shade!  Walking and stopping earlier in the day is the right strategy, assuming that there is someplace reasonable to stop!  In the meantime, as I spend yet another couple of days focused on gear and on relaxing(!) I am grateful to have discovered a hostel-type situation in town, with reasonable rates and good people.  A big thank you! to the 'historic' Hotel Melrose.

                        Am enjoying all of the art in the downtown area of Grand Junction.

Hotel Melrose - est. 1908

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Falling Rocks - A walk up Soldier Summit and down Price Canyon

At Spanish Fork, UT, I met and was overtaken by a Route 6 runner (previously mentioned).  We had a meal together, along with several of my host-angels and the driver assisting her.  She was still wilted from her day's run, but food was her first priority that evening!  By now she is miles ahead of me.  I wish her the best and hope she will take a rest day now and again!!  She said she hasn't done so, amazingly, but then she is a couple of decades younger than this old (flightless) bird...  I, in fact, am capitalizing shamelessly on it being my birthday today(!) and taking an extra day here in Price to visit the paleontology museum, look for a few gear items, and eat cake.  Am planning to continue early tomorrow AM;  it looks as if there are some very hot days in the forecast for this week.

There is only one convenience store between Spanish Fork and Helper, UT (about 60 miles); that store is a welcome sight at the top of Soldier Summit.  The way up felt like the 'endless climb' to me, but I hadn't yet experienced Price Canyon. That was the theme on the next day, after I had spent the night up on a mesa in the Wasatch range, part of the mountain chain that stands between the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau. And luckily that was a downhill day, for which I was repeatedly grateful; it's more than 8 miles down to the small town of Helper. The canyon walk was hair-raising at moments, but breath-taking in a good way, too, and punctuated by dips in the Price River, once to climb over a guardrail and wet my facecloth in a little waterfall, and once to enjoy 'full immersion' under an out-of-the-way bridge. At the waterfall about a dozen big yellow and black butterflies rose up in a cloud as I blundered down to the water. The river is pretty muddy, but very refreshing!  This was also a 25-mile day (longest mileage yet), to which my 'walk muscles' will attest.  

Between here and Grand Junction, CO (at least) there will be more dramatic and beautiful canyons and rock formations, and a number of distances with no services.  I have learned by now that a 'dot on the map' with a name does not necessarily mean anything is there - a very important consideration when provisioning for each stage!

Aprylle Gilbert, from San Jose - the Rt. 6 runner.

Little waterfall in Price Canyon.

Thunder storms closing in on the approach to Price.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A 'harmonic convergence' of circumstances led to an emotionally charged weekend trip to the SF Bay Area...

Yes.  In a rush of unlikely and closely choreographed twists I found myself booked on a flight from Salt Lake City to SF for the week-end in order to attend the very moving funeral of a dear friend, the husband of another dear friend, both of whom live(d) at the Buddhist community where I was also a resident for many years. Brief encounters with many old friends; many hugs and memories exchanged.  How amazing that this trip was even  possible. A main factor was having a place near SLC to park my trailer and stay myself before and after the week-end.  Boundless gratitude to a family of new friends in Elberta, and another family from a SLC suburb! Thanks to these serendipitously met road-angels I will resume my walk from here this week.

On my second night in SF our (Anne's and my) gray kitty Pushkin, who had been ill and fading for some months, had his final health crisis; after being up with him for much of the night, we took him to the emergency vet to say good-bye very early on Saturday AM.  Did he time his exit strategically? On my first night home he was alert and attentive; the next night his distress was so obvious that we did not even wait to contact the daytime 'house-call' vet.  In any case it made for quite a week-end of  'letting go' practice, and I am not adjusted yet, even from this distance (back in Utah).

From the valley around the lakes the mountains here are emphatically mountainous; these mountains are not kidding -- no foothills to speak of, or big trees to block the sight of the peaks. You can name any street (although most Utah streets are numbered...) or place of business 'Mountain View' without a bit of tongue-in-cheek or exaggeration.  Last week I had the pleasure of a visit to Sundance Valley, which is like being in a postcard.  And I know, I know - I haven't reached the Rockies yet.

Inside a beverage and sweet shoppe.

Rest in peace, Baby Pushkin!

PS - I have recently met several other long-distance cyclists and runners out on the road.  One is Aprylle, who is running Rt. 6 to raise money for a San Jose center for at-risk kids.  Her story can be found at Route6tour.com.  And the following YouTube video is by Dave, a cyclist from the Pacific Northwest, whose site is called Three Wheel Journey (It's 2 wheels actually; he used to pull a trailer!):  https://wwwyoutube.com/watch?v=AVcQAxX84bA.  I don't know if this address gets you there; use caution.  He included some footage of our encounter by the side of Rt. 6 between Delta and Eureka.