September 17, 2001

9/17/01 Goat Hill

89.2 / 7881 miles

It rained last night, but this sand just soaks it up. Still pretty cool out when I broke camp. Had a slight delay when I had to unpack everything looking for my glasses. I could get by without them, like I did hiking the Appalachian Trail after having broken them twice, but they do add a lot of clarity to everything I see.

The ranger said I had a long downhill all the way to San Lois but the town elevations actually had me climbing a bit. Just like all my mornings recently, the sky was clear except over the mountains. But again like yesterday, rain clouds seemed to be moving my way from across the valley.

What an amazing view as I left Colorado

Had a bit of lunch at the Ute Café in Fort Garland. From my table, it looked like a hot, sunny day outside. But when I was barely five miles outside of town, you couldn't even see the mountains because of the rain. The winds kept shifting so I couldn't tell which way the storm was moving. I donned my rain gear several times, only to take it off minutes later when the rain stopped.

The storm is almost on top of me!

Just outside of San Luis, the clouds behind me had that black, menacing look to them. And sure enough, pea-sized hail began to pelt me. Thank God they weren't bigger and that I had a helmet. I stopped at the first gas station in town to sit out the storm. I didn't have to wait long. The skies were blue again about fifteen minutes later.

Back to blue skies!

I had planned on stopping here but I'd only done 48-miles and there was no where to camp. If the gods smiled on me just a little bit, I could make another 35-miles to Questa before it got to late. And there was a campground a few miles out of town.

As I rode those miles, I marveled at how my body has performed when pushed. Today makes two 85+mile days in a row, and at an elevation between 7500 and 8000 feet. Guess my hear and lungs are doing pretty good. I wonder how much improvement this high altitude training will give me when I reach the lower elevations, like crossing Texas. My cough seems to finally be going away, but I do have a split-lip, probably due to the dry air at these elevations.

Much to my amazement, I reached town by 5PM with the aid of a slight tailwind and a drop in elevation. Had a wonderful Mexican dinner, complete with some fried sweet bread. I should have asked what they were because they reminded me a lot of mendazis I had in Kenya. The ownder tried to convince me to stay at her RV campground but still wanted to charge me $15 for a tent site. I'd check out the Forest Service site first.

Good thing I brought water because there isn't any here at the Goat Hill Campground. In fact, there's not much of anything here. But looks like they've closed for the winter, so I like it's price - FREE! Found a spot a little downstream with a few more trees to shield me from the highway and the noise of the stream should help drown out the traffic noise.