Hills for Hillz Part Two: The West 

along the Arkansas
don’t mind the finger
About to head to bed in Durango, CO before a 96 mile day so unfortunately we will have to be brief with this post and leave much to the pictures and imagination. Mere has the computer :(so we are comin at you live from the phone. No matter the means, here’s an update from the past week of life on the road for Hillary… 

We left C Springs as a crew of four, well rested and oh so pampered after a jolly few days with Ben’s superb relatives, Glenn and Laura, whose perch in the mountains above the city reminded us of a meeting location for a secret society. In C Springs (and Denver) we had spent three days canvassing, hitting the last weekend of voter registration and first weekend of GOTV (get out the vote for political newbs). 

South from the Springs we rode toward Canon City and then east up the Arkansas River toward Salida. From Salida we climbed south over Poncha Pass (see pics we really made it!) and biked through the San Luis Valley, a wide stretch of high desert flanked by the Sangre De Cristo mountains to the east and the Rio Grande Forest (also mountainous) to the west. After working our way up Wolf Creek Pass (10,800 ft for those keeping track at home) we dropped all the way to Pagosa Springs for a night before riding on to Durango. 

In this section we had the joys of a two glorious sunsets, one along the river and another in the mountains, and night skies were filled with tremendous stars from our high perches. The mornings have also been quite cold, dropping below freezing sometimes…nothin like hopping on a bike and riding downhill through wind when it is 32 degrees out. Don’t try it unless you have to. We have recovered from the cold with a soak in the hot springs on Monday and a sauna on Tuesday (back to back spa days!!). 

The riding experience out here in the west is far more varied and distinct than that of the east. Whereas days in rolling hills with green grass and trees would blur together in the east, out in CO each day has been punctuated by strong impressions from our surroundings as we move through different elevations, climates, and ecosystems. Being on a bike we really have the opportunity to sit and take in these changes of mood, from river gorge to high desert to alpine pass to lush valley, each has left a unique impression. 

A few shout outs before signing off…big thanks to friends Alex and Nancy from Illinois, who we met at Wolf Creek Pass and then saw in town afterwards, where they bought us lunch and exuded relaxed awesomeness as they told us about their retiree lives in IL, gardening, challenging themselves to meet new people, and taking the occasional road trip. Also had a lovely Warm Showers host named Danny in Pagosa, who saved us from the cold outdoor showers that passed through that evening. A random homie drove us to bike store and back when we had to hitchhike after popping a tire. And there is no way we could have dealt with complicated Durango logistics without the minds (and cars) of meres mama, aunt, and friend. Now we are staying with fellow millennial Maggie Reynolds, who made some incredible cookies last night and has really showed us the ropes around Durango. Thanks, as always, to all these people and many more along the way. We have been continually surprised and inspired by all the people willing to help us get across this country!

Could be choppy reception for the next week or so until we make it to Vegas, so we apologize ahead of time for any dropped calls and lack of updating. Also, Mere is joining us tomorrow and Nina must bow out for a bit. So we are back to the original four for the first time since Buffalo, this trip is really coming full circle. 

#strongertogether and happy birthday, Hillary!!

Jamie, Ben, Mike, Mere, and Nina 

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