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Kokopelli's Trail, Loma, CO to Dewey Bridge, UT

June 15, Sunday
Anne drove us north of Denver where Janet and Don Burton, Bill's cousins, picked us up. We went to their house in Loveland where we cleaned up the bikes and began organizing for the western leg of our journey.

June 16, Monday
We had made arrangements to meet with Bill Stoehr, the president of Trails Illustrated to go over the Colorado ADT route. On our way to Bill's office in Evergreen, we picked up Rob and Melina, the young couple who hiked the ADT from Delaware to Cincinnati last year. This spring they had gotten bikes and followed the Bike Centennial Trail to Colorado. They were also interested in reviewing the ADT route through the mountains since they plan to hike it. Bill Stoehr confirmed the accuracy of our route and noted that in some sections we would likely have to use our bike as "llamas". Laurie thought that the main difference in this comparison was that llamas walk up the mountains under their own power.

Since Bill's office is very close to the ADT route, we drove to Bergen Park and unloaded our bikes and rode the 16 miles downhill to Morrison to eliminate some of the elevation gain we would need to make later. We are getting smarter! After Rob and Melina picked us up after our ride to Morrison, we toured Red Rock Park. We then dropped them off in Boulder and drove to Littleton to have dinner with Ann and Dayton Chapin. Ann is the sister of our good friend, Gail Kowalski, in Lynchburg. Then we drove back to Loveland. Busy day for a day off!

16.2 miles, 15.4 mph, 1 hour 3 min

June 17, Tuesday
Janet and Don decided to ride Kokopelli's Trail in western Colorado and eastern Utah with us which is a section of the ADT that requires vehicle support due to the dessert conditions and lack of water along the trail. We also wanted to kill a few days to let some of the Colorado snow melt. There is much visible snow pack when we look up to the mountains. Another purpose for this deviation to the trip plan was to evaluate our ability to ride bikes through the desert later in the summer. So, we spent the day running errands and regrouping, and then headed to western Colorado in two cars with 4 bikes. This was a 6 hour ride and it was 9:30 pm before we arrived in our motel in Fruita. We then went to the grocery store to get some supplies. Our car trip down I-70 took us through Breckenridge, Vail, and Glenwood Canyon. The scenery was inspiring but the snow pack and vastness and rugged terrain tied our stomachs in knots at the thought of what we must ride through in the next couple of weeks. We pushed those thoughts back in our minds and set to work concentrating on how to approach the next 4 days.

June 18, Wednesday
Janet and Don and we decided to tackle the easternmost section of Kokopelli's Trail. We dropped a car at the Loma parking area and went on to Rabbit Valley to begin our 22 mile ride back to Loma. We started out on easy gravel roads which turned to dirt after 6 miles. Bill spotted a coyote in an arroyo. It stopped and looked back at Bill several times as it climbed through the brush, over a hill, and out of view. Then, we started the descent to hell down Salt Creek valley. The trail wound around boulders and over rock ledges that were so rough we walked most of the way down the hill. This descent was described as the steepest section of the whole 140 mile trail. At the bottom, we crossed Salt Creek on a new bridge which was a relief as the guidebook said we would have to ford the raging Salt Creek. The ascent up the other side was not quite as steep but we still pushed for a mile or so. Then, by 10 am the heat turned on — about 95 degrees under a blazing sun. Frequent stops for water and electrolyte solution were required. We then had about 6 miles of singletrack, a lot of which had to be pushed due to large rock and short steep sections over ledges. Actually, for our first real off-road trial, we didn't do too badly. But, the heat took its toll on everyone but Bill. It seems Bill is not only perpetually optimistic, but also impervious to the elements. While others were describing the ride as "an ordeal" or "I didn't think I could make it", Bill announced that he thought it was a "great ride". We all looked at each other with wide eyes wondering if he had been on the same trip as the rest of us. At one point, Don blew a tire on some sharp rocks and we replaced it with Bill's spare. Shortly, Don became overheated and we rested under a pinon pine tree and Don poured water over his head to cool off. The saving grace of this arduous ride was the wonderful canyon scenery and dynamite views. Our final 5 miles led us around the rim of several small canyons with shear dropoffs. We ended the ride at Loma after 7 1/2 hours. By previous arrangement, our son, Mick, and his wife, Kristin, were waiting for us at the motel.

22.5 miles, 5.9 mph, 3 hours 44 min
2704 total miles biked to date

June 19, Thursday
Bill was not able to convince Don, Janet, or Laurie that today's ride would be a piece of cake compared to yesterday's ride. They all decided to bag it in favor of a swimming pool in Grand Junction. So, the only thing to do was to recruit Mick to join Dad. He rode Laurie's bike which was a little small for him but it worked fine. We spotted a car at Rabbit Valley and Don dropped us off at Westwater Ranger Station on the Colorado River. Today's ride was definitely a breeze compared to yesterday. We started with a gentle uphill for 6 miles, then rode around a large canyon and rode down into another one. We passed lots of slickrock (a term for sandstone that is not slick at all and is fun to ride on). Except for a couple of short steep rocky hills, we did no bike pushing or carrying today. Mick, who hadn't ridden a bike since he was a kid, had no trouble keeping up with Dad. We passed through several small canyons and at one point took refuge from the sun under an overhanging cliff. It was at least 20 degrees cooler in the shade. At one point we saw the Castle Rocks, which resembled their namesake. We finished our ride by 10:30 am, showered at the motel, and joined the others at the pool for the rest of the day.

23 miles, 8.2 mph

June 20, Friday
Laurie got back on Kokopelli's Trail with Bill today. Jan and Don ferried us to the drop off point at Dewey Bridge so we could ride to the other car placed at Westwater Ranger Station. To avoid the heat, we got up at 4 am but by the time we dropped off the car and got to Dewey Bridge, it was 6 am already. The desert is pleasant in the early morning with cool temps (60's) and contorted shadows. We decided to bypass one section of the trail that is described as 4.5 miles of "awful" due to deep sand that bikes must be pushed through. In addition, the sand is described as having lots of cowpies mixed in. Due to the bypass, the first 8 miles were easy riding. We then reached a 1 1/2 mile section of singletrack which was rated "very difficult". Although we walked and pushed our bikes through some of it, it was nothing in comparison to Wednesday's ride. The remainder of the ride was mostly easy with some sand thrown in to make for harder pedaling. The coolness of the morning had worn off by 9 am and there was no shade in sight. We finally gained some elevation and began to see juniper trees, one of which offered some much needed shade for a rest. We finished biking by 10:30 am. Back in the car, we drove through Frisco and Georgetown and then checked out Guanella Pass, camping at Geneva Park Campground on the west side of it. 11,649 foot Guanella Pass is on our route and we wanted to see what the road was like.

We had originally planned to ride the whole 140 mile Kokopelli's Trail in 4 days. Due to the rugged terrain, intense heat, and weight of water we carried, we realized we could not do the whole thing in 4 days. It would take at least 5 and none of us seemed interested in continuing under these conditions. This trail would best be ridden in spring or fall. It seems that the amount of distance you can cover in the desert is limited by how much water you can carry. We carried nearly 2 gallons each per day of riding. On the first day, we drank almost all of it, but had water to spare for the second two days. Laurie, in particular, is susceptible to the heat, and does not perform as well. We are pretty much convinced that we will have to bypass Utah and Nevada at this time and return here in the fall to complete the trip. We have a couple of more weeks to really make up our minds on this point.

29.9 miles, 9.3 mph, 3 hours 11 min
2757 miles total biked

June 21, Saturday
Wow — sleeping in until 7 o'clock was a real luxury. Also, car camping is amazingly easy and simple compared to bike-packing. We continued to scout the route we would be riding in a few days from now by driving to Grant for breakfast, and then on over Kenosha Pass. This is where we will start a 5 day 60 mile backpack segment on the Colorado Trail with our friends, the Morgans, also from Lynchburg. Except, we will wait for some of the snow to melt so we plan to begin the hike about July 5. So, one of our problems was to store our backpacks and box of food near Kenosha Pass and to find a 100 mile shuttle for our bikes and us around the hike section. We accomplished both objectives with one stop. We left our packs at a store and the owner promised to find us a shuttle driver for Wednesday morning. Our business completed, we drove back to Loveland to spend time with Bill's cousins and with Mick and Kristin who are also there now.

June 22, Sunday
This is a rough life, living on Lake Loveland, with a boat, jet ski, and a fabulous view of the Rockies over the lake in your back yard. Every time we visit here, we feel like we are at a resort. Jan and Don are great hosts and they really don't seem to mind our family staying here. Bill also spent time at the computer in Don's law office, writing the journal and checking his AOL mail. We made plans with Harv Hisgen, an ADT supporter from Illinois who is vacationing at his son's house 20 miles north of Loveland. Harv and his wife will drive us to Georgetown tomorrow and Harv will ride with us back to Bergen Park to connect us to the ADT segment where we stopped earlier this week.

With the combination of being several days ahead of schedule, driving to western Colorado and doing half of Kokopelli's Trail, and lounging around Janet and Don's house for a couple of days, we are pretty close to being on the schedule we established in May. We hope we can maintain that schedule through Colorado within a day or two.

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

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