TOUR DIVIDE 2017
We left home on June 7th headed for Winnipeg Manitoba. Thanks to Jim Ray and Kari for the ride. While Jim and Kari got a hotel room and drove back to Duluth the next day, Rich and I boarded a Greyhound bus at 11 PM headed for a 22 hour bus ride to Banff.
We arrived in Banff at 9 PM on the 8th collected all of our gear and assembled our bikes in the parking lot. A couple other riders stopped by to say hi and eventually Crazy Larry showed up in his van and said hi also. We than rode to our hostel, Samesun Backpacker Banff. Not a bad place, there were 8 to a room with a bath in the room and another shared bath down the hall. We stayed there 2 nights.
Banff to 5 miles north of Elkford BC
The first day
Start at Banff YWCA. Lisa, Elizabeth, and Nate were at the start to see us off. Crazy Larry gave a somewhat winded talk, we got a group photo and headed for the trailhead at around 8 AM.
The spring weather had been wet and cool and that first day was no exception, the trail for the most part (with exceptions) was pretty good but wet, and scenic. We had a few episodes’ of rain and a couple episodes of snow! But nothing bad or long. Our first resupply was at Boulton Creek trading post, where I discovered my SPOT tracker was no longer with me. I asked around if anybody had seen one on the trail and luckily found the guy who had picked mine up, I had ridden with James off and on during the morning and he had found my tracker on the trail.
In the afternoon the trail got worse. We ran into a section of trail or more correctly logging road where there had been some active logging going on, that is until the trucks could no longer drive on the road. It was completely covered with water filled ruts. There was nowhere to go but ride right in the 6 inches or so of muddy water in the ruts. This went on for many miles. We came across one of the leaders walking his bike here he said he had broken his derailleur in the mud and the bike was unrideable and he was going have to walk to Elkford. Well it did eventually end and come toward evening we were thinking about finding a place to camp when we came out into a large clearing where 2 other guys were starting a fire, it was next to a river (with a large coal mine across the river) and it was about a mile from the start of the Fernie detour(Koko claims detour), and about 5 miles north of Elkford. We ended camping there with Leah and Jere who we would see every few days thru out the ride, and Angelia whom we would not see again for several weeks, and about 8 others.
Made our first crossing of the CD at Elk Pass 6500 feet going from Alberta to British Columbia.
Made camp 9 PM
104 miles, 11:07 hours moving time, 13 hours on the trail.
5 miles north of Elkford to Fernie BC.
The Fernie Detour (Koko claims detour)
We got up about 6 AM and left camp about 7 AM. It was about a mile to the Fernie detour. This was different than the Fernie alternate shown on the maps and I believe it was designed to avoid the washed out bridge just south of Elkford. The detour started out terrible and it never got better, it was all ATV trail full of loose rock, steep hills both up and down and many, many ice cold river crossings most of which we could ride but not all. There was one ½ mile section where the river had taken over the trail and we were forced to walk right up the middle of it. All the rivers in Canada reminded me of the rivers that you see emerging from glaciers, they were that gray blue color fast running and cold.
The detour eventually lead us to the Fernie alternate trail and then into Fernie BC about 5 PM. Where we got a hotel room for the night and spent some time doing maintenance on our bikes, lubing and cleaning off the mud. We had a nice dinner at a local restaurant and slept well.
The weather again was occasional showers both rain and snow.
61 miles, 7:40 moving time, 10 hours on the trail.
Fernie to Roosville Montana USA
Lots of vertical
Lots of passes today. We left Fernie at 5:50 AM rode several miles on the Fernie alternate and then detoured east back to the regular ACA tour divide trail. About 5 passes but none of them on the continental divide. It was a long day with leaving before 6 and riding till 9 PM. The weather was typical cool and a little wet. We got to Rossport a little before 9 PM and crossed the border without any problems, they even had a hose out so we could wash the mud off our bikes. We than went across the road to a bar and small store and had a burger and camped in their side yard for the night. We were 14 miles north of Eureka but didn’t have the strength to go into town, 3 or 4 other people camped with us, but I guess most riders went into Eureka.
There were about 17 hours of daylight up here which we were used to and was really nice, it was light before we got up and light when we went to bed. Something we would see change drastically further south as the days got a lot shorter.
110 miles, 12:32 hrs riding time 15:10 hrs on the trail.
Roosville to Whitefish Montana
Two big passes in the snow
Whitefish pass and Red Meadow pass both of them about 7000 feet. We left Roosville about 7 AM. Whitefish Pass was tough but doable on the gravel road, but Red Meadow was snow covered for about 3 miles so it was all hike a bike, although it was a very pretty pass with the mountain lake right near the top of the pass and the weather was clear. Then there was a long, long downhill (like about 30 miles) most of the way to Whitefish Lake, than it was around the east side of Whitefish Lake and into town. Very pretty ride all day. We got a hotel room again in Whitefish about 8 PM and spent the night. Had pizza at a local shop next to the bike shop with a couple of other riders and also ran into the first North bound rider we’ve seen, unfortunately I forget his name.
103 miles, 10:23 moving time 13 hrs on the trail.
Whitefish MT to Holland Lake Lodge MT
Thru the Flatheads in the rain.
Left Whitefish about 6:15 AM. The first sections were a lot of paved roads till we got to Flathead National Forest. As soon as we got off of the pavement the rain began and it rained all day pretty hard at times. Lots of forest roads and lots of abandoned forest roads and even a little single track all of it in the rain. Did I mentioned it rained all day long. Wore all of my clothes including all of my rain gear and managed to stay warm as long as I kept moving, if you stopped for long ya got cold pretty quick. Not much to see today because of the cloud cover, it reminded me of riding in northern MN riding thru the big trees. There was just 1 big climb after Ferndale. Rode with Ko for a while today. We first met Ko while riding the Colorado Trail Race in 2014, a very nice guy from the Denver area, rides a bamboo bike.
The plan was to stay at Holland Lake Lodge for the night which I thought was right on highway 85 and right on the route. When I got to hwy 85 I find out the lodge is another 4 miles and it is about 2 miles off route, but there are no other options to get out of the rain. When I arrive about 9:15 PM I talk to the front desk and they inform me there is no room at the inn. Luckily I see Leah and Jere having dinner and they kindly offered to let Rich and I sleep in their cabin. So this is a small 1 room cabin with a bathroom, maybe about 20 feet square total with 2 double beds a couch and a chair and there ended up being 7 of us sleeping there, including Jill from Alaska who we met for the first time and would end up riding with for many days thru Colorado.
98 miles 10:50 moving time 15 hrs on the trail
Holland Lake to Carlson Lake, just short of Huckleberry pass (or ~14 miles past Ovando)
We left Holland Lake late after eating breakfast at the restaurant. Left with Leah and Jere and a few others. The woods were wet but the roads were in good condition, 1 big climb (Richmond pass) 10 or so miles out of Holland Lake otherwise a lot of smaller climbs. The weather was nice all day, partly cloudy and no rain. About noon we took a short side trip into Seely Lake to get supplies than onto Ovando, a small town of about 50 people. All the info we had about the town said everything closed about 6 PM but I arrived about 6:15 PM and the little convenience store was still open, the owners were watching the tracking page and saw that lots of people were still coming so they stayed open. So we were able to have something to eat and buy some more supplies and visit with some of the other riders. We left Ovando with the plan to cold camp short of Huckleberry Pass and that’s what we did. About 8 PM we found a spot alongside the road about 13 or 14 miles out of Ovando near Carlson Lake and a few miles short of the pass and camped there.
82 miles 9 hrs moving 12 hrs on the trail.
Carlson Lake to Helena
Lots of climbing
Another nice day weather wise and trail wise. We left our camp part way up Huckleberry pass about 6:30 AM, so we finished that climb right away in the morning and then on to Lincoln were we had a late breakfast at a café and ordered another meal for the road and resupplied at a convience store also, than it was 3 continental divide crossings before Helena. So there were a total of 4 passes to cross all in the 6000 to 7000 foot range. All of the riding today was on gravel. Late afternoon we came across a RR siding in the middle of nowhere with a train sitting on the siding waiting for another train to come by and of course this train had the road blocked. Well we waited for a little bit but soon decided that nothing was going to happen anytime soon so we decided to climb under the train with our bikes, this was made tougher because the train cars were belly dumpers which left little room underneath, we got under with the only casualty being Rich’s head light which had been mounted to the top of his helmet. We got a hotel in Helena about 9 PM with the plan to go to the Walmart in the morning to get some major supplies like a new tail light for me since my very expensive one had broken and fallen off my bike on day 3.
88 miles 10:51 moving time 15 hrs total time on the trail
Helena to Butte.
Another day of big climbs a major mechanical and wrong turns.
Left Helena a little late because of the shopping at Walmart, so it was about 9:15 by the time we left town. One climb right out of town than a few more miles to a double pass that topped out at ~7500 feet. The second climb consisted of a lot of single track and lots of hike a bike over very rough and steep trail. We rode a lot of this with Fay an approximately 50 year old lady from New Zealand a very strong rider. We got into the little town of Basin in the afternoon and stopped in a little café and had some coffee and as we were readying our bikes to leave I noticed that my seat post had cracked. There were no bike shops till Butte so I stabilized my rear rack as best I could and just took it easy. We had one more CD crossing to do at about 6700 feet and then down into Butte. Got into Butte about 11 PM after making 2 wrong turns, the first one was on the pavement about 7 miles out, we could see the lights of a town and kept heading that way only to find out it was the wrong town. Than we stopped above town to enjoy the view of the town lights and looked at the map which said to take the road into town, well we dropped down about 500 feet into town before we noticed that we were not on the GPS track so we had to climb back out of town and find the tour divide route that was a trail into town. We eventually got it figured out and got dinner at Perkins with Fay, got a hotel room near the bike shop so I could try to get a new seat post in the morning.
85 miles 11:25 moving time 13:45 time on the trail.
Day 9 Sat June 17
Butte to 15 miles past Wise River headed towards Polaris MT
We had to wait for the bike shop to open at 9 AM. So I got there right at 9. Measured my seat post and the owner found 1 he had in stock which was carbon fiber so I installed that and also found a new rack, I’m sure the cause of my seat post break had a lot to do with the seat post clamp on rack that I was using so I was glad to find a new rack.
We finally left Butte at 11:15 AM Headed for Fleecer Ridge and Wise River. There was one CD crossing and another pass before Fleecer, than it was a long climb up to Fleecer ridge which was a wide open park with quite a few ATV trails which is what we were following then one very steep but short ¼ to ½ mile downhill which was a HIB. On to the town of Wise River where we restocked and then went another 15 miles towards Polaris and camped at a NFS camp ground.
65 miles 8 ½ hours moving time 10:15 hrs on the trail.
Day 10 Sun June 18
25 Miles before Polaris MT to 15 Miles before Lima MT
Left at our usual time around 6:15 AM and we had mostly road to Montana High Country Lodge which we got to at 9:15 and stopped for breakfast. They served a nice breakfast but we could have eaten two of them, and they also packed us some sandwiches for lunch which was great because there was no place to resupply today. We left MHCL about 10:30 and continued to Polaris which is basically only a post office and onward. Lots of pavement today and later on gravel. There was a major pass at Medicine Lodge/ Sheep Creek Pass. We camped at a NFS campground about 15 miles before Lima MT. Lots of open country, cloudy most of the day with a few showers. Put our rain gear on before leaving MHCL. Got to camp about 8 PM
111 miles 10:20 hrs moving tome 13:40 hrs Total time
Day 11 Mon June 19
15 miles before Lima to 15 miles past Island Park Idaho
Left camp at 6:15 got in to Lima and had a nice breakfast than across the street to a convenience store and resupplied. We heard a lot of TD riders had stopped in Lima overnight so they were a few hours ahead of us. Nice easy riding today thru the Lima reservoir area into the Red Rocks National Wildlife Refuge where we stopped at park HQ and ate lunch, than over Red Rock Pass and entering Idaho in the Henry’s Lake area. Pretty much paralleling the CD for most of the day till we crossed it. Stopped for supper south of Henry’s Lake in the Island Park area (Ran into Jill at the restaurant, she left ahead of us) than went just across Highway 20 and resupplied at a very busy convenience store. We were going to get a hotel in Isl Pk but everything was really expensive so we kept going. We had a funny thing happen to us early in the day, we had come across a dog in the middle of now where after leaving Lima, he wouldn’t come to us and there were no structures around for miles and miles. About 2 hours later a pickup truck going the opposite direction from us pulls up and asks if we had seen a dog, he said he started out with 2 dogs in the truck box and later noticed that he only had one dog in the box he thought the younger dog had jumped or fallen out. We told him we had seen a dog many miles back and the driver said he would go and look. It seemed that most open pickups here had at least 2 dogs in the truck box.
After leaving Isl. Pk. We got onto the old RR grade that starts in West Yellowstone and goes south. The grade was very well used by ATV’s so it was very soft sand and very wash boarded. We found a beautiful place to camp alongside the trail about 9:15.
110 miles 10:17 moving time 15 hrs total time.
Day 12 Tues June 20
South of Island Park to 28 mi beyond Flag Ranch or 3 mi past Moran
We left our campsite again about 6:30. Beautiful campsite this morning we were next to a big open field and there was an elk grazing this morning and coyote’s calling last night which we would hear a lot of during the trip. We finished up the rail trail at Warm River Campground where a lot of riders had spent the night. The RR trail was very scenic lots of wildlife including swans and ospreys, and an abandoned RR tunnel near the end. We caught up to Jill at the campground, she had ridden till after midnight to get to the campground and had crashed there and was just leaving when we got there, so she rode with us for a little while. The route was very scenic. Went for many miles on the Ashton Flagg Ranch Road which was very soft but ridable. Did a slow uphill for about half the day to just above 7000 feet than a slow downhill. Cross the border into Wyoming. The route ran right along the southern border of Yellowstone NP. We also ran into some snow along here. We pulled into Flagg Ranch about 4:30 and had an ok meal in the bar since the restaurant was closed. The waiter had a bit of an attitude towards bikers. They also had a convenience store there so we were able to stock up for an estimated 2 days. Just as we were going to leave the skies opened up and it poured. We checked in to staying there for the night but everything was full so after waiting till the rain let up a little bit we put on rain gear and headed out. We rode for 28 miles or 3 miles past Moran onto Hwy 287 and found a pull off for a trailhead and camped there for the night at about 9:15 PM.
99 miles 10:45 moving time 14:45 total time.
Day 13 Wed June 21
Moran to Fish Creek NFS campground
Two big climbs
Left camp again at 6:30 and hit gravel soon after leaving, than it was a long climb to the back side of Togwotee lodge where we stopped for a late breakfast. We ran into some mud before Togwotee that made us walk our bikes off to the side of the trail for a mile or so. We ran into Jill again at the Lodge but left separately. After the lodge it was onto the pavement to Togwotee Pass over 9000 feet, we also saw our only grizzly here alongside the road. After Togwotee it was a little bit of gravel and snow entering the Wind River Range than some more pavement, than back onto the gravel. Somewhere along here we meet up with Jill again and she would ride with us for many days. We eventually turned off of the ACA route and took some ATV trail up to the top of Union Pass the trail was HIB, very steep wet, muddy and snow covered in places. The top of the pass was wide open for many miles. We ran into Floe here, he is from the Netherlands and was having tire problems. He had a cut in his sidewall right below the bead and both of his tubes had holes in them and he couldn’t get a patch to stick. We tried several times to repatch the tubes but always failed, we even tried to put sealant into the tube but it wouldn’t seal, we spent a little over an hour trying things with no success so Floe ended up walking backwards on the course to a campground we had passed and we headed forward. We rejoined the ACA course on gravel till about 9:15 when we came across a NFS campground (Fish Creek) and set up camp there for the night. Rich and Jill slept in the forest service outhouses and I camped in my tent.
We later heard from Floe that he found no one home at the campground so he continued walking and finally got a ride to a lodge where he found someone who had some bike parts and he was able to get a new tube and tire and get back on his way. It ended up setting him back about 2 days and he would finish about a day behind us.
Rich, Flo, Jill on Union Pass
67 miles 10:30 moving time 14:45 Total time
Day 14 June 22
Starting to look like the Great Basin
We broke camp at our usual time of 6:15. The landscape was opening up more and more. It was slightly downhill or flat for about 80 miles and we had a slight tail wind so we moved along well.
Jill was with us all day and would stay with us till just before Silverthorn CO. We stopped in Pinedale and did some laundry and while waiting for that went across the street to a pizza buffet so that worked out well, after that it was stop at a convience store for supplies and hit the road again. As the day went on it was looking more and more like the Great Basin and area of central Wyoming with no trees, semi desert and rolling hills. Just before Pinedale the route turned mostly east and we had a nice west wind so we made great time. This is why I figured that they recommend going North to South, that way there is very little chance of having to pedal into those west winds. Towards the end of the day we would climb about 1000 feet to the CD and stay along the CD for quite a few miles We made camp around 9:15 just a short distance off the route right out in the open about 20 miles before South Pass.
118 miles 10:10 moving time 14 hrs total time.
Day 15 June 23
Into the true Great Basin.
Left camp at the usual time of 6:15. This meant that we were getting up usually about 5:15 (yea it took us an hour to break camp and have a bite to eat). We crossed South Pass in the morning, it wasn’t much climbing since we were already at 8000 feet and the pass is 7550 feet. After south pass it was a short section of pavement than gravel to South Pass city where we stopped for a couple of minutes to visit with the people at the historical site (an old gold mine) and have a cup of coffee but mostly it was a ghost town. Another few miles down the road and we got to Atlantic City about 10 AM where we had a nice meal and bought a few supplies but they were pretty limited. Left Atlantic City at 11:30 headed for the Wamsutter detour. We started the Wamsutter detour about 3:30 PM at the Bison Basin oil camp. I had read the detour directions wrong and thought the start of the detour to Wamsutter was 20 miles when in reality it was 60 miles. We stopped at the oil camp and asked if they had any spare water since our water supply was sketchy weather we could make it all the way to Wamsutter, and it was a really nice bunch of guys working there they said there shift was just about finished and they gave us all of their spare water and talked to us about our ride. After the oil camp we started the Wamsutter detour which started with about 10 miles of ATV trail and lots of climbing but it was a really scenic trail. Than it was a long push thru the oil fields of central Wyoming, these were mostly roads used by the oil companies and I had heard lots of horror stories about the truck traffic, but it was a Friday evening and traffic was very light, although when a vehicle would pass us there was a huge dust cloud. I had a pickup pull up beside me and he yells out his window “ Do you got a death wish being out here riding these roads, these are 100 MPH dirt roads” and it was true, we talked a little bit and I told him I was just trying to survive to get into Wamsutter. About 10 miles from Wamsutter we got a cell phone signal and called ahead and made a reservation for a hotel. Arrived at the hotel at 10 PM
123 miles 11:41 moving time 15 hrs total time on the trail.
Day 16 June 24
Wamsutter to 12 miles past Brush Mtn Lodge
Finally back into the trees.
We met Jill at 7 AM at a café for breakfast than got supplies and got out of town at 8:45. We had another 70 miles of the Wamsutter detour to do and then it wasn’t very far to Colorado. The southern half of the Wamsutter was the same as the first, oil country, and again we were lucky it was the weekend and there was very little traffic. We hit pavement in the town of Savery WY and then it was just a few miles to Slater CO where we stopped in a little museum that sold supplies to people biking or hiking thru. From outside Slater the climbing started, we entered CO at 6800 feet and would end the day just short of watershed divide at 9800 Feet. We did stop in at Brush Mtn Lodge for supper of pizza baked in a wood fired pizza oven by Kristen the owner who is originally from the U. P. Although it was just a Walmart cheese pizza it tasted fantastic. We left the lodge about 7:45 and continued down the trail till about 9:00 and camped at a trail head off the road. We saw Angela at the Lodge she had hit the wall, pushing herself to hard and had to take a day of rest, we also saw Eric on the single speed and he had crashed one to many times and had hurt his arm, he was going to take a day or two to rest and than see if he could continue but it wasn’t looking good.
P.S. I saw Eric a few weeks post race and he said he had struggled into Steamboat and called it quits there.
The shorter days were really getting noticeable it was dark by about 9 or 9:15
93 miles 10:32 moving time 14 hrs total time
Day 17 June 25
Left camp at the usual time headed for Steamboat Springs CO. Went over Watershed Divide passed thru Clark and got some supplies there, arrived at Steamboat bike shop about noon, Rich got a new drive train (chain and cassette) and brakes and Jill got a new chain, brakes and rear tire and I didn’t feel I needed anything. We also had lunch next door at a barbecue joint and got supplies. Then we had to maneuver thru the town bike path and finally got out of town about 2:40 PM. On the way out of town we ran into a road biker with a flat and borrowed him a pump so he could pump up his back tire. It was flat for awhile then we started climbing towards Lynx Pass. We camped at a beautiful site near the top of Lynx Pass about 9 PM.
86 miles 9:45 moving 14:30 hrs total
Day 18 June 26 Mon.
Thru Silverthorne and Breckenridge
Left camp about 6:30 and rode down into Radium hoping to find food but there was nothing there so we refilled our water out of the Colorado River (using our filters) and continued on. Very nice roads but very hilly. Between Radium and Kremmling we ran into the Haute Route bicycle race. This was a fully supported, multi stage, amateur, road bike race thru the mountains of Colorado, there were about 1500 participants, and they were riding the opposite direction as us on the gravel roads. It was fun to see them go by. Jill was feeling tired this morning so she told us to go on ahead she was going to take an easy day. We later heard that she had made it all the way to Silverthorne. We passed by Kremmling since it was 2 miles off route and headed for Silverthorne. Late in the afternoon we hit the highway, 13 miles out of Silverthorne, It was a busy highway, late afternoon and slightly up hill. I got ahead of Rich here and I waited for him just before town, when he caught up he was having a meltdown, he was tired, low on food and to top it off his phone wasn’t working. We split up he went to try and get his phone fixed and I went to get supper. We meet up again at Arby’s finished eating, got supplies at the 7/11 next door and headed out. It was a lot of bike paths thru Silverthorne, Frisco, and into Breckenridge. We spent some time looking for the subway in Breck only to get there after they had closed. So we found a grocery store and headed out of town. It was getting late so just out of town we started looking for a place to camp and decided to stop at a small outdoor museum called the Sawmill Museum. We camped under a shed roof containing an antique sawmill about 10:45 PM
103 miles 11:09 moving 16 hrs total
Breckenridge to Salida
Boreas pass and a big wrong turn.
Left the sawmill Museum at 6:30 and went over Boreas Pass right away, it was an easy climb to the pass. On the way down we were following the ACA route and didn’t notice the TD route took a different trail so we had gone 3 ½ miles to far down the hill and had to climb back up the hill to the Gold Dust Trail, which was a nice flowy trail that brought us out to the ACA route again. It was a nice dirt road to Hwy 285 where we entered South Park and the big treeless rolling hills. It was at the hwy 285 crossing that we ran into Dana and Alexi for the first time. They were also dreading the South Park and weren’t very talkative and went on ahead of us. I had ridden thru South Park before when I had dropped out of the Colorado Trail Race and was returning to Denver so I was not looking forward to it. There was a strong west wind this afternoon so it was some headwinds but lots of quatering headwinds. We stopped for lunch in the middle of the park and I decided to change rear brake pads, a job that usually takes about 5 minutes. When I went to put in the new brake pads they wouldent fit they were to big to fit into the caliper, I tried filing them down but then the spring wouldn’t fir so I ended up putting the old pads back in. We continued on to Hartsel where we resupplied. It was a tough bit of pavement going into Hartsel on hwy 24, a cross wind that was pushing us out into the traffic lane lots of traffic and no shoulder. In Hartsel I called ahead to Salida bike shop and asked them if they could set out some brake pads for me since we wouldn’t arrive there till after closing time. And they did. We made 1 more climb before Salida and it was a nice down hill into Salida as the sun was setting. We rode with a couple of other guys at the end of the day but I don’t remember their names. I picked up and installed my brake pads and we got a hotel for the night.
104 miles 11:30 moving time 16 hrs total time.
Day 20 June 28
Salida to Cochetopa Pass
A couple of high passes, cross the CO trail, and we picked up Jere
So we stayed in Salida and had breakfast at the hotel and then resupplied so we got out of town at 8:30. It was gravel for awhile as we worked our way out of Salida and thru Poncha Springs and than finally onto gravel and a long climb up to Marshall Pass at 10840 feet. We had crossed Marshall Pass while doing the Colorado Trail Race but nothing looked familiar to me. As we were having a snack at the trail head just short of the top of the pass Jere rode up. He said Leah was not feeling well and was going to take a rest day and maybe see a doctor and she encouraged Jere to go on ahead since they knew we were about 5 miles up the trail. Jere would ride with us the rest of the time. We went thru Sargents than some pavement to Doyleville with a strong headwind and back onto gravel and climb to the top of Cochetopa Pass at 10100 feet. We went just beyond the pass and pulled into a NFS campground at 9:20 and ran into Dana and Alexi there so we shared a campsite for the night.
94 miles 10:30 moving time 13 hrs total time.
Day 21 June 29
Cochetopia Pass to just short of Indiana Pass
Nearly to the highest point.
Left camp at 6:30, it was a very cold night at 10000 feet. And headed down hill since we were camped at the top of the pass. But that didn’t last long as we soon headed up and over Cornero Pass at 10100 feet than it was down and thru some scenic country thru LaGarita and into Del Norte at 3 PM where we meet up with Dana and Alexi, had lunch, resupplied and headed out together. It started climbing right after leaving Del Norte (7900 Feet) as we were heading to the highest point on the route Indiana Pass at 11910 feet. We rode and walked till 7:30 when we decided to camp for the night so we could do the summit in the day light. Rich, Jere, and I camped across the road from Dana and Alexi.
82 miles 10hrs moving time 13 hrs total time
Day 22 June 30
Just short of Indiana Pass to South of Horca at Brazos Ridge
We woke up at 4:45 and left camp at 5:30, starting climbing right away and crested the highest point Indiana Pass 11910 feet. Than into Summitville home of the oldest and longest running superfund sight. There is naturally occurring acidic rock and the mining operations only made it worse. The maps said it was not safe to drink the water from the creeks in the area. And informational signs said that a nail left in a creek would totally dissolve in 1 year! The rough terrain continued. Went by Elmwood Pass than over Stunner Pass than down into Platoro, not much in Platoro except some resorts and lots of ATVers. I was ahead of Rich and Jere coming down into town and didn’t even recognize it as a town and went right past. About 20 minutes later I realized my mistake and had to backtrack 2 miles to the town and meet up with Rich and Jere. We stopped in a restaurant and the owner there gave us the reroute for the forest fires in New Mexico, she gave us a cue sheet and also put the GPS track on our Garmin’s. Not much for food to go so we headed on to Horca where there wasn’t much for food either but we found a gift shop that sold some food and were able to get some stuff like corn dogs, amish pies, personnel pizzas, and we ate lots of ice cream. Next it was a tough climb to LaMangas Pass at 10230 feet even though it was on pavement and from there it continued up hill crossing into New Mexico to Brazos ridge overlook at almost 11000 feet and we camped soon after that next to Cruces Basin Wilderness.
89 miles 12hrs moving time 15 hrs total time
Day 23 July 1
Brazos ridge to Abiquiu
The Bohita Fire Detour
We have been getting up at 4:45 the last several days and leaving camp about 5:30 or 5:45 Trying to avoid some of the heat of the middle of the afternoon. Three or four smallish climbs today and the fire detour, which was a really nice route thru some very imporvished small towns (this area looked just like rural Mexico) We started the detour late morning and went thru the town of TresPadres where we stopped at the post office and mailed some stuff home and then had lunch at a small diner that was overwhelmed with customers. Dana and Alexi were there ahead of us and also James was there who we hadn’t seen since day 1, he was all cleaned up and said he was dropping, he wasn’t going to make it to the finish in the time he had left. We hit the reminder of the detour after lunch just as it started to rain, and the dirt roads turned to the worst kind of slippery, sloppy, sticky mud you have ever seen. There was nothing we could do but keep going luckily the rain was short lived, but at times the back tire would throw mud up over your head and it looked like it was raining mud. At times it stuck so bad to the bikes it brought us almost to a standstill and we would have to stop and find a stick and scrape off the mud to be able to ride again. After a short while the rain stopped and the roads improved and we caught up to Rich washing his bike off in a river. He said he had asked one of the local kids if there was a hose around to wash his bike off and they said there was no running water in town, they all got their water from the river. We continued on thru a couple of small towns and finally got to the end of the detour in Vallecitos (the detour added 17 miles to the route). Vallecitos is famous for its dog alley, and we found it but the dogs weren’t to bad. Some climbing after Vallectios, went thru ElRito and into Abiquiu where we stopped at a B & B just before town that advertised that they had bike camping. Well they did have bike camping but it was the same as dispersed camping, no facilities , no water, just a place to pitch a tent by the river for 20 bucks.
107 miles 11:30 moving time 15 hrs total time
Day 24 July 2
Abiquiu to Cuba
We got up early for some unknown reason and headed to the general store in Abiquiu for supplies, and than had to wait till 8 for the store to open. While waiting Dana and Aleki showed up and than Angela showed up. Dana and Alexi had come into town and inquired if there was anywhere to stay at the store, a realtor there said she had a house to rent so they ended up with a huge house to themselves. Angela had crashed at the only hotel in town (which was full) with Lynn and a couple other TD riders.
We got our supplies and headed out. Long steady climb out of Abiquiu for about 35 miles to over 10000 feet. Stayed at that elevation for about 10 miles than a slow drop to Cuba, the last 10 miles paved. Got into Cuba about 8:30 PM and got a room at the Cuban Motel, The guy working the desk was just a fill in and didn’t know how to run credit cards and didn’t speak English, so another customer took over and got us registered and paid. Than we went over to the only thing open in town the McDonalds and had supper and resupplied.
80.5 miles 11:15 moving time 13 hrs total time.
Day 25 July 3rd
Cuba to Grants
Left Cuba (Rich, Jere, Angela and myself) in the dark. Had a huge herd of elk run across the road right in front of us in the dark. A long day with no resupply fairly flat and all on pavement. Nothing memorable about this day. There were some head winds because we did go S.W. and than N.W. the first half of the day before turning south into Grants. Hooked up with Dana and Aleki in Grants and we all went to the Motel 6 and got rooms ($49) and went out to eat together for dinner.
122 miles 10:45 moving time 13:45 total time
Day 26 July 4th
Grants to 30 miles past Pie Town
Left Grants at 4:30, all 6 of us together. The route was fairly flat but high, all of it above 7000 feet with 3 C D crossings. Got into Pie Town about 1 PM and had lunch at the Pie Inn and of course got our two free pieces of pie thanks to Salsa. Than we went over to the toaster house and hung out for a couple of hours during the heat of the day. Left the toaster house at 5:30 and rode for 30 miles to a NFS campsite and camped for the night.
Day 27 July 5th
30 miles past Pie Town to NFS campground North of CD alt route going into Silver City
Got up again at 4:30 and left camp about 5:15. Most of the riding was between 7000 and 8000 feet with 3 CD crossings. The route was pretty tame till the last 30 miles. During the middle of the day we had stopped at the Beaverhead work station and refilled our water and rested for about an hour. Dana was short on food and had talked the staff there out of a bag lunch. During the last part of the day we were right between the Gila Wilderness and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness. We were aiming for the NFS campground at MP 131 but there had been some rain ahead of us and the mud was just terrible again so we decided to stop at the NFS campground at MP 124 Lower Black Canyon campground at about 7:00 PM. There were the 6 of us Dana, Aleki, Angela, Jere, Rich and myself. Didn’t pass thru any towns today.
94.5 miles 10 hours moving 13:30 total time
Day 28 July 6th
NFS Campground thru Silver City to Separ
All 6 of us left the campground at about 5 AM in the dark
About 20 miles into the day the Tour Divide route takes the CD Trail alternate route. This is a 12 mile rugged single track Continental Divide hiking trail. Just before the start of the single track Dana and Alexi had stayed on the main route so they could go to a store and resupply and than had to backtrack, but had caught up to us by the end of the single track. Than it was another 20 or 30 miles into Silver City where all 6 of us had a big meal and resupplied and left town by mid afternoon. Silver City is at about 6000 feet and the route goes slightly up and down for about 30 miles and than drops over 1000 feet to Separ. After you get off of the pavement south of Silver city at White Signal the route becomes very pretty high desert. You ride right along the CD for a few miles and than get into Separ which isn’t much. We got into an old truck stop turned into a gift shop at 10:00 PM and camped on their front porch till midnight.
The last day (or should I say The last night)
We left Separ at midnight Rich, Jere, Angela and myself, Dana and Alexi were going to stay till morning since Alexi didn’t have a good light and didn’t like to travel in the dark. It was a beautiful but boring ride thru the high desert all on pavement. We traveled parallel with US Highway 10 for a few miles than turned south to Hachhita and Antelope Wells. The only traffic we saw were 2 cars going to pick up the riders ahead of us and about a dozen border patrol vehicles. I had called Jeffrey Sharp from Silver City and had requested a pickup for all of us at the border. The first part of the route into Hachita I was really struggling riding behind Rich, Jere and Angela. Part of the problem is you could see the lights of Hachita (all 4 of them) from about 15 miles away and it looked like it was just around the next bend. We finally all met up again in Hachita and the only business in town (a small convience store) opened up for us. And Jeffrey Sharp was there to greet us! We had a few snacks and left there about 2 AM. Angela was feeling pretty beat after Hachita so I stayed back with her, which was good for me in that it let me recover and I felt pretty good. When the sun came up about 6:30 AM we were about 10 miles from the border and all 4 of us rode in together to finish at 7:30 AM. 27 days 23 hours and 30 minutes from the start.
It was not easy getting home from Antelope Wells New Mexico. We had contacted Jeffrey Sharps to pick us up in Antelope Wells (it is not a town just a small border crossing in the middle of the desert) and he brought us back to his home in Hachita (population 10?). We stayed there 1 night than Jeffrey gave us a ride to Lordsburg NM. from there we caught the Greyhound bus all the way back to Duluth (48 hrs). We ended up spending about 24 hours waiting for the bus because our bus was supposed to arrive in Lordsburg at 11:50 PM, but later on we find out that if it is after midnight the bus doesn't stop where we were it stops at the other end of town at a truck stop. So we missed the first bus and had to wait till the next day for another bus.