Day 2: Last Dollar Pass to Spring Creek Hut, 27 miles
The day began high on Last Dollar Pass under gray skies. The forecast was overcast with possible rain later in the day. On paper, the days route was downhill, but as we soon discovered "downhill day" simply means you end lower than you start. It doesn't mean you won't be doing any climbing! Even with a few uphills, this was probably the easiest day of the trip.
The start was a fairly long descent from Last Dollar through aspen groves to a high desert plateau. Here we rode by the old ranch where the original True Grit movie with John Wayne was filmed. We rolled up and down on this plateau until a sustained downhill to Highway 62. The roads on the plateau had more traffic than most due to the number of ranches in the area and the close proximity to the highway, but is was still tolerable. As we took a brief rest at Highway 62 (about the halfway point for the day), we talked with a couple guys who were riding across the country, east to west. They were nice guys and looked to be having a good time, despite getting wet and a little cold.
From Highway 62, we climbed up a couple miles to another high plateau populated with expansive ranches. Here we rode over nice gravel roads that zig-zagged through the ranch properties towards a darkening sky. Although we had sprinkles at various points during the day, I thought we might get lucky and avoid any hard rain. It was not to be, within 10 miles of the end the rain started to fall in earnest. The roads got progressively wetter and muddier as we approached the endpoint for the day. Although we were kicking up some muddy spray, thankfully, the roads never got boggy.
Today was Gina's longest ride ever! But, then again, so are the next 5 days! I for one couldn't imagine tackling this ride with as little preparation as she had going in. Nonetheless, today she was riding strong and in good spirits most of the day. Things started to unravel a little in the last few miles. Unfortunately, we ended with a climb and although Gina was still doing well physically, she was mentally ready to be DONE for the day. Although we never had any significant problems locating the hut at the end of any leg, it still can be a minor mind-f*** to not know exactly where the finish line is.
We arrived at the hut in the rain and partially covered in mud. Getting gear and clothing clean and strung up on the clothes lines was a little messy. Before getting cleaned up, I got the handsaw out and got my Paul Bunyan on. Luckily the wood at the hut was under the cover of trees so we had dry wood for a fire in the stove. This made it possible to get our clothes dry for the next day, yay!
In this picture you can see the "crapper" in the background. Apparently, these composting toilets have been pretty nasty in the past, but they were totally clean and non-nasty. They appeared to be relatively new and the design really works well.