Day 55 – Telluride to Dolores CO

I had to pry myself out of Telluride this morning. Such a beautiful setting and I met such great people, that pedaling away wasn’t easy. Literally – it was uphill to boot. But over the last week I’m missing Megan and Jonah more and the pull home is stronger so I pedal on.

I only have one more big pass in Colorado and it’s on tap this morning. By climbing to Telluride I’m much of the way there already, but still have to do the low-O2 part of getting over the 10,200 ft “Lizard Head” pass. Points for best-named pass so far, with “Hardscrabble” a close 2nd.

It’s Sunday morning and traffic was quiet as I made the climb under sunny skies as far as the eye could see. I saw Elk on my way out of town, and the approach to the pass was one of the most beautiful spots on this whole trip – complete Julie Andrews “Hills are Alive” moments all over as I passed cliffs, bluffs, peaks and lakes. All just as green as could be. Again I think photography is a weak substitute for being here but its all I can offer.

Would these be teenager bull elk? Their horns were still covered in fuzz.
Meadow flowers under Mt. Wilson (a “fourteener”). I didn’t investigate but I believe those are mine tailings scarring the mountainside.
Trout Lake looking east.
Approaching today’s pass. Cue Julie A.
I think it will be Western Utah before I hit a summit this high again. I hope all this high altitude training will make it easier next time. Honestly today wasn’t too hard though which is good. My legs never feel quite all there after a rest day.

The only thing I won’t miss about Colorado is riding in the rain. I seem to have hit the monsoon season square on and the afternoon rains are regular and sometimes long. This is all great news for the locals – Colorado has it’s drought years and there are a lot of folks downriver in Arizona and even California that get their water from here. So its good news in general but it can be hard to get miles in without some level of afternoon misery.

Given that intro, you can guess what my afternoon looked like. Just after making the summit, I headed down into a beautiful meadow, and then followed the emerging Dolores River down the valley. A few miles from the top, the wind kicked up in a now-familiar way, the darker parts of the sky began to pull together around the big peaks and the temperature began to drop. I had my rain gear on before the first drop this time but even so, when the clouds opened up my feet and hands were every bit as wet as if I’d dunked them in a bucket. Climbing in the rain is actually easier than descending – on the way down you don’t generate much body heat because it takes no effort, and you also have a 30 mph wind wicking all the heat out of your body. By the time I reached Rico, I was cold and wet and ready for a break (i.e. grumpy to boot).

I dropped into the local bar and grill for lunch and a warm up, quickly surrounding myself with my own personal rain puddle as I peeled off layers to warm up. I was missing home and family, and with being cold and wet, I wasn’t your ideal friendly bar guy.  But the mood in the place was very friendly and I met Kay and Tina who had seen me descending the pass and had lots of questions about my trip. There have been lots of ways that folks  have helped me on my way and they helped by getting me out of my shell through warm conversation and genuine interest in my story.

The ceiling was pasted with customers bills – quite a montage.

I headed on down the hill after lunch and the sky opened up again. But as I descended it began to get warmer, and the trees turned back to more deciduous ones. Getting into town here in Dolores, you can tell by the vegetation that they get a fraction of the water that I’ve seen up the hill.

Rock face. Take that how you will.
As I was taking pictures of the rock, a guy walking past offered to take my picture. He also gave me a very earnest “God Bless You” as I went on my way.

The RV park where I’m staying tonight – the Cozy Comfort. The hosts, Brenda and Tony, have been very welcoming and their park is great – cute, clean, and well kept.
Tony was tending hanging planters with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. Cool idea – I hadn’t seen that before.

7 thoughts on “Day 55 – Telluride to Dolores CO”

  1. Lizard Head is a good one. How about Dead Woman Pass (13,800) on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? Needless to say, that name convinced us not to do that section of the trail.

  2. The fuzz on the antlers has a blood supply for the growth. When they reach max, the elk will peel it off by rubbing it against a tree. The more impressive the antlers the boss the elk.

  3. Hi Jim

    I’m glad you liked Telluride. It is a special place. I fell in love with it 7 years ago, and moved here in 2014.

    Ride Strong!
    Eileen Claugus

  4. Ryan, Jen, and l were talking about you at a mutual friend’s wedding on Sat. You spent the night at Jen’s parents in Ohio? What a small world. Thanks for all the great photos especially of your fellow cyclists. You cross paths daily with TransAm-ers?

    1. Yup I stayed with Ron and Margaret at their awesome place on Lake Lorelei.

      I’m off the regular TransAm course now. When I was on it I would see 2 or 3 groups a day typically. Now I’m on the “Western Express” and I’ve only seen 1 other cyclist on it! Much less travelled route but it is stunning and frankly I kind of like being the only cyclist around.

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