Day 27

A Beautiful Day Through Rocky Mountain National Park

Posted by Conner McCormick on 2016-06-18
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Ride Date: 2016-06-16
Starting Location: Granby, CO
Ending Location: Estes Park, CO
Miles: 60
Lowest Elevation: 7536
Highest Elevation: 12183

It was really hard to get out of bed this morning, though I slept very well. I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud and I didn't want to move. Joop, Tony and I enjoyed a nice big breakfast and finished off all of the extra food that we had. This was the first time that I have included pizza and ice cream with breakfast... After we ate and had some nice conversations we went down to the lobby to check out and enjoy a cup of coffee before we headed out.

Tony and I. Ice cream with breakfast! Enjoying a coffee before hitting the road

We all road out together until we got to the turn for highway 34 where Joop would ride back to the Transamerica Trail and Tony and I continued to the park. We all said our goodbyes, because Tony would take his ride much slower than mine since he was only going a little further than the entrance to the park today.

Not too long after leaving the others, I had to climb a bit of a hill which then opened up to an amazing view over Lake Granby which I rode beside for a while. When I got to the entrance for Rocky Mountain National Park, I talked to the lady in the booth for a while about my adventure. She made a joke that I was late for the Ride the Rockies group since they were going through the park today too, though they started at Grand Lake which was much closer to the park than I started. She was really inspired to hear about my trip, and it gave me some extra motivation to get started on a tough day of climbing.

Shortly after entering the park I saw some people parked on the side of the road and decided to stop and see what they were looking at. There were a couple of moose eating out in the fields. A few people talked to me about my adventure and asked me about the couple thousand riders that were going over the park today, assuming that I was a part of the Ride the Rockies Tour.

I passed by a lot of very pretty picnic areas before starting my climb and decided that I would stop for a snack to refuel and enjoy the view before starting my very long climb to the top of the park over Trail Ridge Road. When I started the climb there were a lot of switch backs to take my up the mountain. Usually elevation is kind of tough to deal with, however my legs just kept on going with no problem. It makes it a whole lot easier to enjoy a tough climb when there is so much beautiful scenery to enjoy on the way up. Whenever I would stop at an overlook I got a lot of attention from the tourists who were driving through the park.

Continuing up the mountain I got up to Milner Pass at the continental divide. A man with a lot of camera equipment stopped me to take a photo of me in front of the continental divide sign and we talked for a while. I have gotten my picture taken by a lot of random people on this trip. It is fun being a part of other's adventures and seeing people get so excited for what I am doing.

As I continued to climb the mountain there was no shortage of amazing views. When got out of the tree line and the views opened up more I was supported by a little bit of tail wind to help me get up the mountain. Once I got to the last switchback on the first mountain I climbed, I had to start fighting a headwind and some pretty intense gusts of wind that made the ride a litle sketchy at times. There was no guard rail for this section so I made sure to keep away from the edge, not caring that I was slowing down some cars behind me. I decided that my saftey was worth making them have to wait a little bit to get around me.

I got to the Alpine Visitors Center and went in to look for a 32oz Rocky Mountain National Park water bottle to replace the one that I left behind at lunch on accident the other day. They didn't have any big enough water bottles there so I decided to continue on up to the top. On my up I passed by a couple of bikers without any gear on their bikes. It always feels great riding past others while I have so much gear. I hope I didn't embarrass them though!

Reaching the top of the park brought me some incredible views, and I was surprised by the amount of wildlife up there. I was disappointed to find that there was no sign at the top with the elevation for me to take a picture in front of. I really wanted to get a cool picture since I made it over 12,000 feet (12,183 to be exact)!

I found a nice spot on the rocks near the top of the mountain and posted up for lunch. I took my time enjoying the view, and even enjoyed a well earned beer at the top. Joop, Tony and I had one left over from the previous night so I promised them that I would drink it at the highest elevation on my trip. They said I needed to get picture proof, so I did!

The ride down the mountain was amazing, though pretty cold at first. I didn't stop for pictures as much as I did on the way up since I was cruising so fast down the mountain. On my way down I was keeping up with all of the cars that were heading down too.

Riding into Estes Park was absolutely incredible. There were so many rocks and mountains to look at. I kept riding by places that I remembered seeing last year when Harrison and I were on our road trip and going through the park. I took the turn towards the Fall River park entrance to head towards my WarmShowers place for the night, which was located RIGHT by the entrance to the park.

I received a warm welcome by Annie, my host for the night. I took a nice shower to get myself clean, then went to the back porch to hang out and get to know my host. Their back porch had an amazing view Annie was very generous with me right away, offering me beer and a nice big pot of chili that she had prepared. We had some nice conversations talking about the scenery on Trail Ridge Road, and also about bike touring and other adventures. I was introduced to a few other friends that lived in the same complex as her.

View from the porch!

After enjoying some chili Annie, Hailey and I drove into town to visit the Rock Cut Brewery, where there was a new food truck that had just opened up next to it a couple days before so they wanted to check out the food. We enjoyed a couple beers while playing a game of bananagrams before leaving. On the way back to their place, we took a drive through the park. There are two entrances to the park from Estes Park, so they showed me the part that I didn't ride down. We also stopped for a short hike to a waterfall that they like to visit. The water from the fall comes down all the way from Lawn Lake, which happened to be the spot that Harrison and I backpacked to when we were in the park the year before.

When we got back to their place we hung out and talked for a bit while Annie and I played a card game that she introduced me to (I forgot the name of it though). I then headed back to the bed to get some sleep after thinking back on the awesome day of riding that I had. Today was AWESOME!

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