Something was different about the way I planned the next two days of my trip. What was different about the planning was that I hardly did any. Colin from the beginning of this trip had to know where he was going to be sleeping each night. Now, four months into my trip, I was able to simply let go of some of my concerns. My cousin Greg had recommended that I bike up the Poudre Canyon en route to Walden, CO, where I would be reunited with the TransAm trail. Quite frankly, that was all the planning I needed. It seemed as though the confidence I had developed over the span of this trip made it easier for me to just let go.
So my host, Andy, works crazy hours. When I awoke around 7:00 am, he was just getting home from his job. Something I liked about Andy was that he had an "I'll sleep when I'm dead," mentality, so he joined me for the first few miles of my ride. It was great to have his company before I got back into the mountains. He accompanied me for about 15 miles, parting ways with me at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon.
The Poudre Canyon was a solid recommendation. There was a mild incline as I headed West, but nothing too strenuous. I was more than able to take in the scenery of this engulfing canyon. At first the canyon was rocky, with jutting cliffs arising from the Poudre River. It was so rocky that I even bumped into some young people rock climbing. Surprisingly, this was first time that I had seen any climbers on this trip.
As I ventured deeper and deeper into the canyon, the mountains developed a thick tree cover. Sadly, for several miles it was clear that thousands of acres had been devastated by some forest fire. Seeing the devastation reminded me of Andy's words from just a few hours prior. He was recounting the terror he experienced while watching the flames from a forest fire shoot into the sky. It's scary how something as little as a match can cause a situation to spin so far out of control.
I continued my uphill climb. I was surprised by how well my body was holding up. At about 50 miles I was still hungry for more miles, so I kept on climbing. The nice thing about not have fixed plans is the ability to pivot on a dime. I felt like riding more so I did.
It was also around that time that I realized I had zero cell phone service. I grew perplexed. I had calls to make tonight! Plus, I needed to update my blog! What the heck! Well, it looked like I didn't have a choice but to disconnect from the outside world. Quite frankly, my initial, panicked reaction was silly. The whole reason I embarked on this journey was to get away from that hyper-connected, anxious BS. Being a product of my short-attention-span-having generation, the cell phone was certainly something that I (and almost everyone I know) needed to just let go of. I suppose the Poudre Canyon was doing me a favor by cutting me off.
Then I stumbled upon a sign that read "Sleeping Elephant Mountain". I looked South to find a large formation. Holy crap. It looked just like a sleeping elephant. Don't believe me? Give it a look yourself!
A few miles later I passed "Hummingbird Haven". It was just a sign on a store front that had a bunch of hummingbird feeders in front of it. What was special was that hummingbirds were literally fighting to get a seat at the table! Something I never knew about Colorado was that it is the Mecca for hummingbirds. Never in my life have I been to a place with so many hummingbirds. I had always thought of hummingbirds as elusive creatures because the home I grew up in had a hummingbird feeder which never had any hummingbirds. I recall maybe three times over 16 years when I had spotted one. Here in Colorado I had seen so many hummingbirds that I was nearly getting sick of them! I kid you not when I tell you that I spent a good 30 minutes in this store front taking the most close-up pictures of hummingbirds that I had ever snapped in my life.
I arrived at the Big South campsite about 70 miles up the canyon. I'm not going to lie, I had grown pretty fatigued by the time I arrived. This site had no shower, but it did have the ice cold Poudre River rumbling past it. Since it is impossible for me to sleep in my filth, I threw on my bathing suit and headed to the river. Man, it was cold. I mean REALLY FRICKIN' COLD. I couldn't bring myself to take the plunge, so I devised a strategy to force myself. I basically just slathered body wash all over me so that I would have to get in. During my 45 second plunge into the water, I let out a string of grunts and obscenities that really should never be repeated. I know this post is all about "letting go", but man is it hard to let go of not being totally frickin' freezing. Well, for whatever it's worth, I was eventually able to immerse myself.
That night I spotted a shooting star as I dozed off beneath a clear mountain sky. Seeing the star was the cherry on top of my serendipitous day in the Poudre Canyon. Who knows, perhaps all the surprising delights of this ride were a sign that I should just let go more often.