Rolling out of wheatland, we soon got into the plains and dealt with a lot of sun and wind. The scenery was absolutely stunning. Once we hit the foot of the mountains the climbing started. We were wondering why everyone kept offering us a ride when we said where we were going. The hills were not horrible at the bottom of the hill, but at the summit, it was a different story. As usual, there were your standard bike hating morons in big trucks intentionally blowing exhaust in our face at stop signs, but they were outnumbered by kind folks offering help or even a simple smile and a thumbs up!
We took some refuge for the afternoon huddling in the shadow of a snow drift fence planning our next move. We pressed on up the road and while debating how to get to a stream that was on private property to refill the water bottles, we were greeted by a nice guy who turned out to be an elk hunting guide. He said we were cool to fill up our water and we should stop by the field where he and his friends were talking. He also offered us a ride to the top.
We rode up to the group of tractors and trucks and they flagged us down so we turned into the field to say hello. It was several ranchers and the guide who were collecting hay on a flatbed. They offered us a beer and we gladly accepted an ice cold Keystone Light which tasted fantastic in the sun! We stood there and BSed for a beer as they subtly poked fun at how ridiculous they thought our trip was. We talked about hunting and how beautiful the land was. Eventually electing not to take a ride in a truck and pressed up the hill. Our spirits were high and the beer gave us extra carbs to tackle the mountain.
The next few miles were a big climb but do-able. We spotted a prarie rattlesnake under a cattleguard and were feeling good. We chatted briefly with an older couple from New Mexico who had a badass Eurovan camper and some entertaining bumper stickers. Our goal was to get to the top of the mountain to camp which was only a few more miles. Those miles were tough! The switchbacks started at dusk and were so steep that we couldn’t ride. The cars that passed us were losing traction on the turns. Calories got low and so did our spirits. The hill was so steep we couldn’t stop and decided we did not want to turn back so we trudged along in the dark (With lights of course). A random pack of starburst got us going again until we finally hit the top of the hill.
We threw up the tent and cooked dinner then passed out promptly afterwards. The next day, our decision to press to the top paid off! We met two of the nicest folks of the entire trip. Bill, who was a game warden from Laramie, stopped by and talked to us for over an hour. We covered everything from the outdoors to auto-immune diseases and diet. He was assigned to the Medicine Bow National Forest for the eclipse as reinforcements. As we parted ways, he insisted on hooking us up with M&Ms, Fig newtons and other goodies. The best was peach iced tea Snapples which were amazing! We thanked him profusely and thouroughly enjoyed talking to someone so passionate about his job and his state.
Next we met Marlon, who was the Pastor of Camp Grace. The camp was a Baptist summer camp which was really nice with cabins and looked like a blast for kids who would visit. He drove up to us in his polaris and subtely let us know we were technically on church property. We told him the story of the night before and how we were looking for a spot off the road. He smiled and said, “Do you have a few minutes?” Umm, yeah we’ve got time. We jumped in the Polaris and he took us down a path to a site the church had for campfires. There were ruins from an old chimney from a homestead, a giant boulder to climb on, and a fresh spring that you could drink straight from the pipe! Marlon asked if this would do, and we looked at him and smiled. The spot was perfect! We had piece and quiet and unlimited water, also a flat surface.
The next day we woke up and hung around waiting for the eclipse which was at 11:20 AM. All I can say about the eclipse is if you missed this one, don’t miss the next one. It was absolutely phenomenal! Unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The coolest part was the temperature dropping 20°F. During the totality, the mountainside erupted with howls at the moon so we naturally joined in the fun. What an amazing event!