We head north out of Trinidad across the open plains, then west, aimed for the mountains. In this vast landscape it takes us an hour to reach the mountains we’re looking at. Then we start to climb. The road is winding and fast through a shallow canyon but narrow and full of blind turns. Then the curves straighten and we are torn between clicking up another gear or ogling at the mountain peaks.
We take a stunning, breathtaking, awesome, winding road through alpine meadows and past abandoned homesteads. Across from an abandoned stone and tin cabin we find apple trees loaded with ripe fruit. We snack and take a few for the road.
Onwards through empty valleys and over ridges that spill into yet another golden valley. We spook mountain cows on the open range no matter slow we go. We see more pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs and red tailed hawks.
The Spanish Peaks sit at the end of a gently sloping park. From our perch in a sun soaked meadow we gaze across the grassy plains through sage and juniper up to forests of spruce and fir that fade as the massive flanks of the peaks rise up as if from a fairy tale to impossible heights far above the tree line. Clouds lay shadows across their massive talus slopes as we try and fail to comprehend what we are looking at. It is simply too large, too grand, to much to take in. In the anthropological book “The Forest People” the author takes one of the forest pygmies he’s studying on a car ride to the African plains. The man wonders about the miniature cows he sees because he is unfamiliar with the distortions of scale vast distances create. I feel like an Ozark pygmy baffled by this view.
We have traveled 4,000 miles from our start in Tallahasse. We’ve been through 120 degree heat, rain storms, deep sand, mud and clay. We’ve tipped the bikes too many times to count. Each day of riding is full of so many visions we forget about them. Nights are spent catching up. “Did you see that long horned steer?” we ask each other or “How about that little farm tucked into the canyon?”
Our first full day of riding in Colorado has been stupefyingly beautiful. Nowhere to go from here but up.