Open hunting season, approaching the summit of Highway 12, West of Boulder (Day 163)
Last night I woke up to what I thought was heavy rain. I got brave enough to slip out of the warmth of my sleeping bag and check outside. It was snowing heavily.
When I got up in the morning it was freezing. Minutes after I rode out of the campground I was in heavy snow country. It took me an hour to get to the 9400 foot summit and the views were tremendous. It was cold enough to don my ski mask and every bit of warm clothing I could get on. I even threw my bright red cycling shirt over the top of my rain jacket: every pickup that passed me was full of hunters and there was no way I was going to be mistaken for a bicycle-riding moose again.
It was a long cold downhill to the town of Boulder, the last town in the U.S. to receive mail by mule. I tried to warm up on coffee and gave Brooke a call. The plan is to get a cabin somewhere near Zion National Park and I’ll meet them very late at night in two days time. It’s a long eight hour drive for them from Long Beach.
The ride out of Boulder was breath-taking. At first the road ran along a high narrow ridge overlooking colourful canyons on either side. Then there was a thrilling 14 percent grade drop down into the canyon and up the other side. Definitely one of my favourite rides of this trip.
After a lunch of salsa, chips and a litre of chocolate milk I headed slowly through a lot of boring national forest land. As I was passing two parked Cruise-America RVs a man spotted me and called out for me to stop. He offered me a drink and I thanked him but I said I had enough water. “I wasn’t offering you water”, he replied with a beer in his hand. He was from the Netherlands and I spoke to him and his wife and friends for a short while. They’d done cycling trips themselves in Malaysia and Ecuador.
I eventually got to Cannonville and started the 9 mile detour to the Kodachrome Basin State Park. It’d been included in the top ten camp grounds of the state so I knew the extra miles might be worth it. It was very pretty but I was too tired to appreciate it and went about my cooking and tent-setting up routine in a slight daze.
I sat outside my tent for an hour or so watching the full moon rise up over the ridge into a clear night sky. I counted how long it took to fully appear, about a hundred seconds. There was a thirty percent chance of rain this afternoon according to reports, so my luck is still up. There’s wild rabbits hopping about everywhere here.
If I was still in Fairbanks right now I would probably be standing in a foot of snow. When I left Fairbanks a month and a half ago, I got to see the changing of the Autumn colours for the first time in my life. I was told the scenery takes only about 2 weeks to go from green to red to gold to winter greyness. I’ve been lucky enough to see it for the past month and a half as winter slowly creeps further and further South through the country. It’s incredible. I’ve looked to the sky every night and experienced almost six lunar cycles since I first rode my bike out of Oakland, California. Almost six times I’ve watched the moon go from new moon to waxing crescent, from half moon to waxing gibbous, from full moon to waning gibbous, from waning half to waning crescent, and on. I’ve felt the warmth of a summer sun along Californian Highway 395 through to the chilly headwinds and snow of the Cassiar. I’ve watched my stumpy shadow stumble beneath my feet in the peaks of summer, I’ve watched my shadow enjoy its massiveness with the sun struggling to rise above the horizon in the Arctic. I’ve seen the changing of clouds from hour to hour, day to day. I’ve watched storm clouds gather, brew and threaten. I’ve watched the aurora dance, twirl and amuse. I’ve felt the seasons pass and noticed how time can move so much slower when you take the time to notice it.
And I’ve seen the stars. The stars Baby, the stars.
In the same time, if I hadn’t of left home, I could have been sitting in a room designed to keep the seasons out; air filtered and set to a steady 25 degrees Celsius, 400-lux of fluorescent light to wash over me. I could have spent another nine hundred and twenty hours working for a faceless company, daydreaming about what I’m doing right now.
Kodachrome Basin campsite, 23 minute long exposure with full moon rising behind camera (Day 163)