Rocky Mountain High, part 3
So, the second day we rode to Mount Evans. Now, I’d like to stress that most of us didn’t know what we were in for and that’s probably a good thing, because I think we’d have opted out.
Mount Evans is 14,130 feet above sea level. To put this in perspective, the trees stop growing at 10,000 feet. High. Very high. The weather was cloudy and visibility was not nearly enough. The road to Mount Evans is, to be kind, terrible. It’s narrow, no guard rails and many blind corners. About half way up the mountain we came to a sign that stated, “Road damage due to weather ahead”, so yeah, the road was about to get worse. And it did. Large cracks in the road, pieces breaking off, slanting outward, not great. Then, we came to another sign that informed us that the road was going to narrow. Yeah. Traffic was heavy and we met cars as they were coming down, hugging the center line (didn’t blame them, I was leaning so far over the bike I thought I’d fall off (hopefully to the inside of the road and not down the mountain). I prayed a lot going up Mount Evans, and I prayed a lot coming down. Read more about Mount Evans here. It’s certainly not a road for the faint of heart, not sure where I found the courage except for the fact that there was no place to stop and get off, I had no choice but to keep going.
At the top, most of us had suffered the same condition, legs shaking, nervous stomach and we needed to use the facilities. Never mind that many of us, and by many of us, I really mean me, hadn’t adapted to the altitude, so breathing was…fun. The weather was cold but our shaking had little to do with the weather and more to do with the fact that we were scared shitless. The clouds were low that day and once at the top, we weren’t able to see anything by way of a view, so the best thing about enduring that climb eluded us, except now we can say we did bike up the highest paved road in the United States and we survived. Oh, and there are plenty of mountain goats that were climbing the rocks and Marmots at the top, interesting to see animals who thrive up there. Marmots chirp looking for each other and scurry along the rocks. The goats just stopped and stared at us like we were idiots.
The trip down was just as adventurous because our weather continued to decline and it began sleeting and lightly hailing, so we endured our share of obstacles climbing and descending Mount Evans and, as Deb Joski put it on Facebook, “Did that, don’t need to do it again.” Aaaamen!
By the time we made it to the bottom, all we wanted to do was have a drink. (I say we, but I mean me. Probably others, but for sure I needed a drink.) That was a test of a different kind and we passed, without incident. We stopped at a gas station to put on our rain gear because it began to rain in earnest. All in all, we saw some beautiful sites, tested our courage and had fun. Pictures below are courtesy of Deb Joski.