Day 67: August 8: Rocky Mountain National Park to Drake

I got out early after having the biggest breakfast I could manage: a bagel and an English muffin with Nutella, a banana, and a bowl of cereal with milk. And coffee, of course.

The road started climbing about two miles from the campground. It continued about 13 miles up to the top, at 5-8% grade. With the Sunday traffic leaving the parks, the road was clogged with RV's and cars. The climb was pretty steady from 9000 feet to the high point at 12183 feet. At about the visitor's center (before the top), I'd run out of calories and had a baked potato with broccoli and cheese.

At the center, I met a German woman who'd just finished the climb from the other direction. We talked about bike touring for a while. She said that she had an infant, but would be touring with the kid as soon as she became 12-20 months old.


A view from the road going up
Finally I got almost to the top, but I was running out of blood sugar and was feeling the altitude. I felt lightheaded, but still had to get over the top, down a bit, then back up before I could just coast. The crosswinds were buffeting me into the traffic lane, and a rainstorm was trying to start.

I did make it, though, and after the second crest was able to coast all the way down into Estes Park, about 12 more miles. Although I'd been going about 4 miles per hour going up, I now wanted to go about 40 to 45 miles per hour going down. But the cars and RV's didn't want to go that fast. No later than I'd pass one group of cars, I'd come up on the back of another group, who were slowing down for a switchback.


A view from near the top
Estes Park was jammed with tourists. I figured that I'd take advantage of being in a real town to take a shower and do my laundry. I found a laundromat that had pay showers and did both. As I was waiting for my laundry, I talked with a young woman who was setting up an Othello game. She and her boyfriend told me about a place to camp about 12 miles away.

I took Devil's Gulch Road out of Estes Park over toward Drake. This road led through lovely horse pastures and past pretty houses, then down a steep series of switchbacks and downhill. There was a Crosier Mountain Trail trailhead off the road, where I stopped and rolled my bike up a steep hillside. I camped in an open meadow on a hillside facing the road.

As the sun was setting, I suddenly saw a bright light coming from the only house in sight, which was directly across the road and about 1 mile from where I was. For the light to be as bright as it was, it would have had to been a high-intensity arc lamp with a reflector. The whole hillside was illuminated. The bright light was making it hard to see the stars. They turned the light off a couple of times for a minute or so, only to turn it back on when I moved again. Finally, I went inside my tent and they turned off the light.

I couldn't figure out why someone would want to harrass me like this, but at least they stopped eventually. With the exception of the light, this was one of the best places to camp that I'd found yet.