Downhill! Hot Sulphur Springs, CO

Friday July 3, 2009, 58 miles (93 km) – Total so far: 2,569 miles (4,134 km)

It was a chilly 45 degrees when we gave up hibernating and started riding this morning.  Overcast almost the entire way, it stayed cool, and we got a smattering of showers.  I think that’s six days in a row we’ve seen rain.  Isn’t Colorado supposed to be hot and dry in the summer?I had noticed yesterday there were large swaths of brown, as in dead pine trees.  I’m reliably informed these lodgepole pines were killed by a beetle infestation in conjunction with a drought a few years ago.

Pine trees killed by drought and insects

Off to the left was a good view of Eagle Rocks; on the right was the Blue River.  All the rivers are pretty high (you can tell when you see a spruce tree uprooted facing downstream) and the reservoirs look full.  A normally reliable source told me Dillon Reservoir was so full they don’t know how full it is, since all the gauges are underwater!

Eagle Rocks (look like snow rocks)

Blue River in full spate

It was a pretty good road with nice shoulders for a while.  Trouble was the shoulders ran out about the time the city of Denver (which woke up as we left, ate and packed and got into their cars and trucks and headed out for the Fourth) caught up with us.  You figure the guy driving the gas truck probably does this every day.  You figure the truck pulling a trailer with three four-wheelers, the three pickups pulling identical trailers with identical clean, waxed four-wheelers, the trucks pulling campers, and the cars pulling boats, probably are vacationing at least for the weekend.

We bypassed Heeney, incurring a few hills in the process, and kept going toward Kremmling.  Just before we hit town, we crossed the Colorado River, also full, but looking rather peaceful, like a good fishing river.  And there were lots of fishing spots as we headed upstream.

Colorado River near Kremmling

At Kremmling, CO 9 ends, so I guess we’ve ridden the length it.  The route takes us east for a bit, so we came by Parshall, and hit Byers Canyon (my boss is famous!)

Colorado R. drops a bit downstream of Parshall

Entering Byers Canyon, see the shoulder disappear?

It’s a rather narrow, steep canyon, with a railroad on one side of the Colorado River and the road on the other side.

In the canyon, railroad and highway

Across the river

In a moment of sanity, somebody set the speed limit down to 35 mph.  Narrow, winding road, lots to rubberneck at, it just makes sense to try to limit the speed demons who might otherwise blow through a curve and kill somebody.  (Bicyclist or motorist!)

We made it into Hot Sulphur Springs by noon and had a nice lunch.  Early in the afternoon we enjoyed the hospitality (air conditioning and wifi) of the library.  Later, we tried to find the town campground.  The town has a park, with a nice picnic pavilion we’d be happy to sleep in, but it closes at 9:00.  The town campground is right between the river and the railroad.  OK, but the mosquitoes make the place look like an Off commercial!  Virginia found us the Stagecoach Bed and Breakfast.  I’ve never seen such an accomodating B&B hostess.  Naomi asked us if we’d stay for breakfast, or if we needed an early breakfast.  I said we’d like to eat at 5:30, and she replied, “Well, I was going to make quiche for the rest of the guests, but it won’t be ready by then.  I’ll be up by then.  What would you like?  I can make you eggs with bacon or ham, and would Belgian waffles be all right?”  Would they ever!  And they were ready on time, and they were delicious.  Highly recommended for passing cyclists.


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