Warden is billed as the Moose viewing capital of Colorado, but sadly it failed to deliver, unless of course you count the giant plastic moose outside the Moose Creek Cafe, where we ate our breakfast this morning. As we left, the town was busy preparing for its annual rodeo, so we saddled up our horses (a term Mike has taken to using) and hit the road.
Terry nearly did this quite literally after he audaciously decided to cycle in the road instead of the shoulder and incurred the wrath of a local driver who swerved to a halt, sprayed the air with expletives and told him he was going to get ######g killed if he continued. This was an unusual encounter but there’s no denying some Americans think (and make clear) cyclists should not be on the road full stop.
Undeterred and still determined to find our moose Terry and I were on high alert, scanning every ridge and tree-line, but although the giant of the Rockies failed to appear there was plenty to look at, stunning birds of prey (which appear to have replaced the Turkey Vultures) Pronghorn Antelope (we saw several with young) and swathes of flowers such as mountain lupins. To be honest I’m not sure that’s what they are called but they are lupins and they are in the mountains so there you go.
What is so surprising about the Rockies is that the mountains are not all compacted together, but divided by huge wide valleys. We are now cycling through an area known as North Park and the landscape is changing once again. Rocky boulders create lumpen hillsides with the sort of knobbled ridges you’d expect to see an Indian chief appear on, training his arrow on your intrusion.
Just over twenty miles out from Warden we crossed the state line and we were in Wyoming – our seventh state. Crossing also were Kaitlin and Andrew from Boston, cycling East to South Carolina. These meetings with East-bounders are always interesting, gathering information on the road ahead and passing on information about places to stay and places to avoid.
What the couple didn’t warn us about was a long hard climb a few miles before Riverside which, mixed with a nasty headwind turned out to be one of the toughest and drawn out up hills of the past week. We cranked up and up so slowly and didn’t descend much quicker either as the wind did it’s best to push us back to Colorado.
A quick lunch stop in the pretty Riverside and Encampment area and we pushed onto Saratoga where we headed for the Sulphur Springs, stripped off down to our cycling shorts and jumped in. After a long hard day in the saddle the hot water was bliss.
After a cycle through town (unusually pretty with thriving businesses and an attractive Main Street) we headed a couple of miles to the town campsite by Saratoga Lake, a wetland refuge home to pelicans, grebes and annoyingly, swarms of mosquitos. Our lakeside campsite (we were with Jerry Jonathan Mike and Chuck) was beautiful and we chatted as pelicans came into land and small birds darted through the water margins.
If was slightly spoilt by a truck driving through the assorted RVs and tents spraying chemicals out the back, but it did clear the midges, for a while, but eventually after cooking up Ramen noodles mixed with mushrooms (we know how to live) we were forced to take refuge in our tents.
Miles Today: 70
Total Miles since First Landing: 2638