Much like week 9, week 10 of our trip southward on the GDMBR was light on miles covered, but otherwise full of adventure, this time with my brother, Casey, and his wife, Julie.
Before resuming the ride, we indulged in the Radium warm springs one last time with Derek, then packed the bikes and pushed off from Kremmling in the late afternoon sun. We were impressed with the beauty of Williams Fork Reservoir, which offered free camping and nice-looking tent spots, however we carried on for some extra miles before calling it a day. That night, we wild-camped on Battle Mountain (BLM land), and it was one of the coldest nights we recalled to that point. Our meals at that spot involved quite a lot of peanut butter, apples, and wraps, but also chocolate chips, cheese, and marshmallows. In the morning, we met a Dutch couple who had detoured around Lynx Pass due to a wildfire, which was surprising because we had been there only a week or so ahead of them. After climbing past a large mine at Ute Pass, we descended the other side and hopped on pavement for a short cruise into Silverthorne, where we met up with Casey and Julie.
The 4 of us were very excited to be together, and we celebrated Casey & Julie’s first day off of work with a round of shots (and food… and other drinks…) at the Dillon Dam Brewery. Afterwards, Rachel & I left our bikes in the custody of the nearby Sun & Ski, where the staff was very accommodating and helpful, then set up camp and did some swimming at the Dillon Reservoir. The plan for the week was to do some fun hikes, and I think we achieved that with Buffalo Mountain, Mount Elbert, and Lily Pad Lake. The difficulty of the Buffalo Mountain hike surprised us, and we were also very surprised by the friendly mountain goat that passed us nonchalantly on the trail as we retreated from thunder and lightning.
As is required for any Colorado 14er, we started Mount Elbert very early, and mother nature did her best to defend the peak from the hordes of hikers. Fortunately for us, the dark clouds looming at the summit never produced any lightning. It was incredibly windy (and thus very cold), though, so we were battered by sleet and snow. Despite the inclement weather, we made the summit as the sky cleared and were rewarded with a fantastic view from atop Colorado’s highest peak.
Lily Pad Lake was much more mellow than the other two, but still very enjoyable. Otherwise, we spent our time together sharing great food and drinks between Dillon, Silverthorne, Frisco, Breckenridge, Buena Vista, and Leadville. It was luxurious to be carted around in Casey & Julie’s rental vehicle; spending a few nights in hotels felt pretty lavish as well, and we even soothed our sore muscles in Cottonwood Hot Springs after the Mt. Elbert hike! In Leadville, we enlightened ourselves at the mining museum, which was fitting as we’ve spent lots of time around mines this summer.
For our last afternoon together, we tried our hands at disc golf in Frisco, which provided lots of laughs and another great reason to spend more time outside under the beautiful summer sky. It was very sad to say goodbye at the end of the week, but we had such a fun, happy time together and were very thankful that Casey & Julie made the trip all the way from CT to explore with us for a week! We can’t wait for the next time they come to visit us in CO!
Back on our own, the pristine riding helped to quell our sadness. The climb up Boreas Pass was beautiful (this was reinforced by the fact that we saw not one, but two wedding parties taking photos along the route up to the pass), and the bike paths from Silverthorne to Breckenridge were a lot of fun, too. Another storm hurried us off the top of Boreas Pass, and we didn’t make it far before pulling off the road to shelter under a pine tree as the rain poured down. After bumping down the muddy road to South Park, we set up camp behind an old schoolhouse in Como. En route, we met Catdog, a young guy who recently hiked the AT. Knowing how much simple acts of kindness are appreciated while on long distance treks, he offered us supplies from his pickup, but we were well stocked after our rest days. He explained that his trail name was born when he taped a spoon and a fork together to create a makeshift spork.
That night, we shared PB & J sandwiches and rice – quite a contrast from the lavish meals we had enjoyed while on break from riding!