When we last left you, we were at 14,110 feet on Pikes Peak. After our uneventful ride back down to 6,400 feet on the Cog Railway, we loaded up the land yacht and headed up to Interstate 70, taking pains to avoid Denver proper by taking 470 and spent the night in Vail, Colorado. Clearly, September is the slow time of the year as all the stores in the Lionshead Village closed early. Apparently the town is trying to become more of a year round destination with mountain sports such as hiking and biking, but I’m not sure that Vail will ever be anything but a ski town. After breakfast at the Little Diner (9/10), we headed west out Interstate 70, hoping to get to over Utah’s Wasatch Mountains by nightfall.
The Rockies west of Vail undulate between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, and so I got into the habit of down shifting into 4th or 3rd gear on the declines (4-7% grades) and upshifting to D on the climbs. An occasional tap of the brakes when rolling downhill kept them cool. I did have the Tireminder give me another NoS reading on the left front tire, but it lasted about 5 minutes then went back to working normally. The Rockies eventually mellow out, their peaks smoothing, and then around 30 miles east Glenwood Springs, we transitioned into Mesa country and then canyon country. The canyons just east of Glenwood Springs are spectacular. Because traffic was forced into 1 lane on I-70 for construction, it gave us time to slow down and enjoy meandering through the 1,000 foot canyon walls. We definitely will return to Glenwood Springs sometime to participate in outside activities such as rafting, biking and running. While fueling at the local LOCO station, we had pop-up campers next to us headed out to Moab. Lots of RVs and bikes in this part of the state.
We stopped for lunch in Grand Junction CO and had a terribly bland Mexican lunch there after running 5K at 5,000 feet at the Colorado Mesa University track. The stadium was quite similar to the McKinney ISD stadium in McKinney Texas. That was about the extent of our training for the RnR Half Marathon, other than the Manitou Springs Incline. Quite an abrupt taper.
Just over the Colorado border, in Utah, we caught a glimpse of the sandstone spires of Arches NP to our South. We soon joined the trail of Donner Party over the Wasatch, who, in 1846, took the Hastings Cut-off to save 300 miles of travel. We know how that ended. There’s a movie about it that runs at the new Donner State Park in Truckee CA, which we get to later. In Utah, we made camp at the Lakeside RV Park in Provo (6/10), drove around BYU, had a good charcoal burger at the SuperBurger, watched the last 10 seconds of the BYU v Oregon State soccer game (1-0, BYU). The next morning, on the way out of town, we checked out a competing religion based in Salt Lake City and then checked out the Great Salt Lake. On the list of disappointments in life, 1 being the biggest disappointment, (undersized Alamo being number 8), the Great Salt Lake is 4. It is a non-descript, high salinity, smelly, body of water. Why anyone would stop there to establish a metro area is a mystery. I suppose that by the time Brigham Young and company scaled the Wasatch, he said, the hell with it. We make camp here. We bought a SLC magnet for the RV anyway, and headed west toward Reno over the Great Salt Desert. From the Front range of the Wasatch to the Eastern Slope of the Sierra Nevada, that is the subject of the next post.