Posted by: bikedave | July 19, 2010

July 18, Cowdrey, CO to 4 miles west of Granby, CO

In the morning I drove from our parking spot back to Cowdrey, CO so that I could resume riding where I had left off the night before.  The weather had cleared up over night. It was just a little bit nippy, and there was no wind.

My route this morning would take me south on Hwy 125, following the Michigan River.

I saw three white pelicans on a small lake just south of Cowdrey.

White pelicans, near Cowdrey, CO

Looking west across the small lake

It was not long before I saw a group of 4 antelope in the sage.  They ran along next to me then turned and disappeared over a hill.  The vegetation in the valley was lush green grass near the river and lake, but on the higher areas the grass was more sparse and there was plenty of sage.

Looking west across the Michigan River Valley

I crossed the Michigan River just before entering the town of Walden, CO.  Riding through the town I saw an old courthouse building.  I’m not sure if it’s still in use.

Old Jackson County Courthouse, Walden, CO

Soon after leaving Walden, I entered the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge.  I saw a colony of white tailed prairie dogs.  As I passed, the sentries standing upright on their mounds would bark a warning to the other prairie dogs.  Their bark sounded a lot like a squeeze toy you would buy for a pet dog.
I saw some more antelope in the wildlife refuge.  I guess that makes up for not seeing any yesterday.
Vicki passed me a few miles after I left the refuge.  She continued on to the town of Rand, CO, to wait for me.

Old abandoned log house near Rand, CO

In Rand, we had lunch, then visited the Rand Store.  It was a nice gift shop with a wide selection of books.  We browsed for a while, but all we bought was some chocolate.

I left Vicki in Rand, and rode toward Willow Creek Pass.  Soon after leaving Rand I entered a pine forest, then crossed the boundary of the Arapaho National Forest.

Change in scenery

About 90 minutes after leaving Rand, I reached the top of Willow Creek Pass, at 9,621 feet, and again crossed the Continental Divide.  I was now on the Pacific side of the Divide.  The next 22 miles would be mostly downhill following Willow Creek.  I came around a corner to see a rock formation that looked as if someone had built a 4 story tall stone wall.

Rock formation on Wllow Creek

Willow Creek

Vicki passed by me as I stopped to photograph Willow Creek.   She was able to park in a pull-out about a quarter mile after she passed.

Vicki, in the pull-out

We walked down the bank to the creek.

Vicki testing the water

The water was not as cold as we had expected.  After about 15 minutes we both continued on, planning to go another 12 miles before ending the ride for today.  I would later learn that Vicki saw a cow moose about a mile after she left the pull-out.  I didn’t see the cow, but about 2 miles after leaving the pull-out I saw a bull moose off to my right.  He was grazing on the bushes down a shallow bank, close enough to make me nervous.

Moose!

I took about 5 pictures of him before he noticed me.  When he turned his head and looked right at me, it was time to go.  I’ve seen elk run up a bank much steeper than this one, and if that moose decided to charge he’d have been on me in a flash.
About 3 miles later I saw another moose.  This one was a cow that was much further away.

Another one!

I rode the last few miles of the day, and met Vicki at the junction of Hwy 125 and US40.  We loaded the bike and drove to Rocky Mountain National Park, where we will take a day off from riding.  We were pretty excited about the three moose that we had seen, but the day was not over yet.  We saw another bull moose after we entered the park!  We also saw 2 herds of Elk.  It had been a pretty good day for seeing wildlife.

Miles today: 63 Total miles: 1,677

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