Great Beginnings on the Great Divide

Day 1.

Horca to Platoro

24 Miles. 64 degrees.

Slight tailwind.

Conejos River. Southern Colorado.

The touring Gods blessed us with fine weather to begin our trip. We learned from two other cyclists the past two days have been horrendous. Wheel locking mud stopped them in their tracks above 10,000 feet and they hiked/carried their bikes to the nearest highway and hitchhiked their way into town.

Exactly one year ago, New Mexico claimed victory and we thumbed a ride from Horca to end our trip. Back for redemption, my gracious mother-in-law dropped us off in the same spot and bid us farewell. Loaded down with gear and personal size Amish pies we set out.

True Love=driving across the country on your 41st wedding anniversary to drop off your spouse on a month long bikepacking trip.

We planned an easy day to acclimate to the elevation and weight of our bikes. Paralleling the Conejos River, the route gently climbs through the river valley. Trucks and SUV’s dressed in Texas plates periodically zip by on their way to find a hot fishing hole.

Resting At a South San Juan Wilderness Trailhead

Platoro, sitting at 9,833 ft, is a collection of old cabins and two cafes. We intentionally pre-booked a “cabin” (read old modular trailer) in order to rest easy after the first day. After washing off the grit and eating a hot meal at the Skyline Lodge we’re ready to call it a day.

Tomorrow delivers the highest point on the Great Divide Trail. Yee-haw!

Day 2:

Platoro to Del Norte.

47 miles, 50-60 degrees.

Swirling tailwind.

Cold mornings go best with hot coffee.

When riding the Great Divide, one is typically climbing or descending but rarely on flat terrain. Today exemplified that as we spent seven hours climbing and then one and a half hours descending the same distance. The dreamy descent almost made us forget the tedious climb to Indiana Pass-at 11,900 feet it’s the highest point on the Great Divide. We’ve heard it’s all downhill to Montana!

Summitville Superfund Site. Surface water was plentiful today but contaminated from mine runoff.

Tonight we rolled into a cyclist only hostel in Del Norte and took care of the essentials. Shower. Laundry (also done in shower). Beer. Pizza. We rounded out the evening swapping stories with fellow cyclists. General consensus:Thank goodness we’re not in New Mexico anymore!

Tomorrow starts with coffee at the Mystic Biscuit followed by restocking provisions for a four-five day push to Salida.

Evening Camaraderie at the Great Divide Hostel in Del Norte, Co
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