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GDMBR Chapter 3

Del Norte, CO, to Sargents, CO

Elephant Rocks BLM

After wolfing down a whole salad pizza and beer at Three Barrels Brewing in Del Norte, I cycled an additional six miles north to camp at the southern end of Elephant Rocks.

It was virtually empty there on a relatively warm night, so I opted to sleep without the rainfly on my tent. The sky was so clear and dark... I watched shooting stars as I fell asleep.

The next morning I woke up with the sun, broke down camp and meandered through the area looking to connect back with the GDMBR trail.


For some reason, my GPS couldn't locate the satellites and ultimately froze. I stopped in the middle of nowhere to check one of my backup navigations—when suddenly I saw a figure moving in the periphery of my eye.

It was an older gentleman holding large binoculars, cutting across the sagebrush toward me from a small off-grid compound nestled below a butte.

He waved. I waved.

He was thin, probably in his late 70s with dark sun-leathred skin, a tattered denim shirt with torn-off sleeves and dark hair that was now missing from the top but long and wispy around the sides. It blowed across his face as he squinted at me in the morning sun.

He asked if I was okay. Apparently he doesn't see many people out there. I explained I was just stopping to look at my map; that I was headed to La Garita.

Gently kneeling down in front of me he proceeded to draw a map with his finger in the sand, explaining natural landmarks I'd encounter between here and my destination.

When he stood back up we shook hands and introduced ourselves. His name is John and I understood that he'd been living there a long time, as he referenced a time "before plastic" and lamented the increasing use of ATVs in the area; tearing up the fragile desert vegetation and leaving behind trash for him to pick up.

We talked a little longer. Then he said, "Live in harmony" before turning back to where he came from.

La Garita General Store

Back on the trail headed toward Luders Creek Campground just north of Cochetopa Pass, I took a brief detour to La Garita General Store for a sandwich and ice cream. I also picked up a homemade oatmeal raisin cream pie for the next day.

While eating my ice cream, two women asked how it tasted. Apparently they had just made it from cows on their dairy farm, dropped it off at the store and I was the first person to have ordered it!

...more headwind and a missed target

It was another day of very intense headwind. It really is deafening and soul crushing to work so hard for five mph. On a downhill.

I didn't make it to Luders Creek.

Instead, I fell about seven miles short and ended up camping in a ditch, in an attempt to escape the howl of the wind.

Not everything about this adventure is glamorous.

In the morning I made oatmeal, packed up and continued toward the town of Sargents, CO.

More headwind.

Tomichi Creek Trading Post, Sargents, CO

I arrived at the Tomichi Creek Trading Post in Sargents around 4:30p, ordered a beer and promptly fell asleep at my table. Literally. Sitting in my chair, forehead on the table and still gently gripping my beer glass.

Needless to say, I camped there that night.

Video dispatches from the trail:

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