Today's mission, and I chose to accept it, is to seek out the source of the Mighty Colorado. Here it is:
|A nondescript puddle, whence springeth a Mighty River|
OK, so out of Denver on I-70 and I-25 before turning off at Fort Collins, trundling up US-287 a bit and left at Ted's Place onto CO-14 up the valley of the Cache la Poudre river. I have been here before and the one thing I can say with certainty is that every time I do it rains. The roof was down from Fort Collins onwards but there was the odd shower on the way up to the turning for the La Poudre Pass, and some ominous-looking clouds over the mountains, which are big. The Cache la Poudre is spanned by many small bridges leading off to houses; it must be very cool to have your own personal bridge. Here is the first proper bridge to make it onto camera:
Somewhere higher up the valley than this is the turning for Long Draw Road which, thankfully, was re-opened yesterday. However there is still a goodly quantity of logging going on hence the enforced stop after some eight or nine miles. Are you sure you wanna take that car up here? asks the Nice Log Lady. Yes. Yes, I do. It may be a dirt road but I've taken less suitable vehicles up much worse roads than this and after some fourteen miles of no tarmac which, with only a little caution, might easily have been traversed in a Ferrari, I reached the summit of the pass. And the end of the road. That's a rental, right? asks a jolly bearded type who has a mate in Chatham. He insists on being photographed with a passing BRITON, to surprise the population of Kent.
The source of the Mighty Colorado is but a short walk from the summit, but matters are confused by the presence of the Grand Ditch, a man-made watercourse flowing in the opposite direction. There may be crossings of the Mighty Colorado to be found deeper into Rocky Mountain National Park, which starts here, but I am not walking a couple of miles in pissing rain and single-digit temperatures even were I wearing proper shoes instead of Intrepid Sandals. Doubly so at more than 3,000 metres above sea level. Soz.
We get held up by more logging on the way back to asphalt. As any fule kno, butane lighters do not work well at altitude chiz. Mine don't anyway, though the current one, purchased from Poundland in Bury St. Edmunds back in February, is no great shakes at sea level either. Here is what the Locals use to trundle about these parts; the vehicle already nicknamed the "Mudstang" is lurking at the back:
The Mudstang looks identical to the one at the top of the page. Well, it did. It's now a rather different colour...
The map shewed that an interesting diversion might be taken to Tie Siding via some wiggly dirt roads, but reality on the ground did not match up to M. Bibendum's paper (it often doesn't in these parts, as I found out in 2008) and I ended up going all the way to Laramie, taking in a two-minute chunk of the 2012 and 2013 return legs, before heading back to Fort Collins on US-287.
Fort Collins is the home of the New Belgium Brewing Company. The New Belgium Brewing Company numbers among its products Fat Tire which, as well as having a pleasing bicycle connection, is also one of the first decent USAnian BEERs I met, circa 2003. This is Not Fair and I'm now going to have a cup of tea in protest...