That night at about 11:30 pm, at Chambers late, it started to rain. Not much, just a little pitter patter, then it stopped. Then I was awoken by a loud scuffing, dragging sound. It sounded like a large animal in our things. I scrambled, as quiet as I could, to find my glasses and headlamp, then unzipped the tent and looked around. Nothing. So I went back to sleep. It rained more in the night, again not hard. Then about 5:00 am, it began to rain hard and steady, and it continued for hours. finally at 8:30 am, got up, resigned to the fact that it wasn’t going to stop raining anytime soon. The skies were gray and wet. Then I discovered Lars’ bike nearly pulled over, his handlebar bag hanging wide open, and his glasses case smashed in with a large claw or tooth mark in it. Probably a bear. We had seen a sign on one of the bulletin boards saying that the last bear sighting in camp was just four days previous.
Everything was wet and soggy, and it continued to rain as we ate breakfast. We lingered, taking our time, hoping the rain would stop. Finally, at about 9:30 it began tapering off a bit, so we packed up. The tents were wet and heavy, but we didn’t have much choice.
The original plan was to ride north on Laramie River Road (Forest Service Rd #103) which was a dirt road paralleling the Laramie River for about 42 miles before joining Highway 230 back to Laramie. With all the rain, riding dirt roads was out of the question, so we huddled about an alternate route. I suggested we head down Poudre Canyon to Fort Collins, then the last day ride north back to Laramie. We were bummed to miss out on the gravel, as we were all looking forward to getting off the pavement for a day and a half. So we finished packing up and hit the road in a light rain. It was pretty chilly, so we all had on arm warmers under our rain jackets. Some of the boys had coats and hats on as well.
Poudre Canyon was spectacular. After a few miles we stopped at Poudre Falls to take in the impressive sights. For miles we rode along the Poudre River down through this beautiful canyon, sometimes with high rock walls.
We stopped occasionally to take a break along the river. It continued to rain off and on, but nothing too hard. The riding was all the more enjoyable because it was mostly downhill. In fact, we descended from 9400′ to 4800′ in about 63 miles; about 43 of it was all downhill. It was a very nice ride.
We arrived in Fort Collins around 4:00 pm. I called Natalie, who was in Denver, and discussed the situation. Since the highway between Fort Collins and Laramie was very busy, we decided to wrap up our tour. In fact, I had been warned that it was not a very safe road to ride. We found a grocery store and a sandwich shop and bought food and snacks. We then rode to a nearby park and relaxed. Natalie arrived about two hours later with a cooler full of delicious Glacier ice cream ( an ice cream shop in Boulder that we love). It was a very pleasant surprise. We gorged on ice cream, then Natalie, Niels, and I drove back to Laramie, while Finn, Lars, and Connor hung out at the park. I picked up my car in Laramie, then drove the 65 miles back to Fort Collins to pick up the boys. We then drove home, arriving very late/early Saturday morning.
Once again, it was a very nice trip. I was sad to cut it short a day, but that really made the most sense. Actually, I’m always sad to end these trips, as it seems at the end of the week, we’re just getting warmed up and I feel like we could ride for weeks. Maybe some day.
Day 5 totals: 62 miles, 390′ elevation gain
Trip totals: 235.1 miles, 10,354′ elevation gain.