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Juan Carlos spoke no English but was
Biking up Aspen Alley
GDB: Friday 9/25/2015
The last three days have been quite the ride. The weather perfect, scenery sublime. We left Rawlings, Wyoming on Wed 9/24 and cycled 43 miles up-to the arid and exotic high desert. Primarily private lands free of hunters there were Antelope in abundance. There were also more mountains and steeper hills. 😁
That nite We camped on Dirty Man Creek near some road construction equipment. The creek was great for bathing and we washed up in the late evening sun. The water was cool and refreshing after our sweaty and dusty ride. Sleeping in grime encrusted sun screen is sticky and really sucks. Really. So we always search for good water resources near our camps. Sometimes it happens others not. During the nite we were surrounded by coyote yipping and howling–cows baying…there was a light frost as well when we awoke.
That morning the road construction guys were very friendly and informed us we were in for a spectacular but hilly ride. They were right on both counts. It was a fabulous ride into wonderously beautiful gold & red Aspen forests, wooded mountainsides and bluebird sky’s. The Aspen are huge here frequently reaching 80′ and higher creating a cathedral like effect when you ride thru them. Very spiritual with their sunny gold leaves rustling in the breeze.
Ever since Lima, MT along the roadsides and near fences we’ve joyfully observed the most beautiful blue birds. On some of our faster stretches they fly along with us just above our heads. Outstanding!
The Sage Creek rd out of Rawlings (aka: Aspen Alley) is a national scenic highway and is undergoing upgrades but was excellent cycling and stunningly beautiful. The fall colors and sunny skies make it. I highly recommend it.
The hills? Not so much. 5-10 seconds down, 5-10 minutes up…or something like that. There were some doozies on this road. I hit 43+ mph on a couple downhills. May not sound fast but when pulling wobbly BOB trailers behind us it gets pretty hairy–and screamin fun. But, OMG! What incredible views from the top(s)!!!
We climbed out of Aspen Alley and headed for Steamboat Springs via the Little Snake River and Elk River Valleys.
With the rivers running down them these small valleys have perfect bottomland. The farmland, pastoral fields and pastures were so picturesque in their fall ploomage, with the prettiest elegant, quaint, and sometimes large farmhouses. It was a very scenic stretch.
We ended up at 7700′ elevation in the back country of Colorado on Steamboat Road camped in a very pleasant valley on Tennessee creek. There, we ran into Juan Carlos, a Peruvian gaucho sheep herder living in a covered wagon (w/solar panels) with his two horses, 10 sheep dogs and 3-400 sheep. Sounds crowded, eh? 😉 He spoke no English but Dave new enuff Spanish to learn a few things.
Our camp was situated so we could view the entire valley and it was great fun watching Juan and his dogs move and control the flock. They knew how to work together and the camp turned out to be one of our best tho the water wasn’t too good. We call it “cow water.” Yum.
All thru the nite we heard Elk bugling, coyotes yipping, cows baying, sheep baying, and dogs barking. But we did manage to sleep 10+ hours. Juan told us his dogs don’t like the dog food but prefer fresh bear kill (sheep) and showed us pictures on his new iPhone 6. The dogs gang up & run off the Bears. Fresh lamb chops! What a trip.
We broke camp and started cycling toward Steamboat Reservoir and steamboat Springs. The weather was gorgeous, not too hot, and a little tailwind to help us along. The fall colors? Did I mention those? Wow! We made it up to the top of the pass and had a long 6 mile screamin downhill (on pavement!) which we have not had for a long time. Zoom zoom.
Steamboat Springs is nice but spendy, touristy, and spendy. We’re movin on tomorrow. — Chris