Katie & Laura
Great Divide
Frisco, CO to Del Norte, CO Laura:

Talk about a CHILL WEEK! Our plan at the beginning of the week was to hit up Del Norte for our rest day Sunday since it had a church and the next church was way way far away so we went with that one. Hahaha this meant that we only had to average like 50 miles a day which for us is a plush week and out of all the weeks I think we timed a chill week well since it was SO BEAUTIFUL and we got to really soak it all up!! It also helped that we had a good number of longer mellow climbs which help me slow down and really take it all in.

We spent the week at some pretty awesome campsites -- the schoolyard in Como that had SWINGS, the cutest little RV park where the host Estela gave us a deal (oh and it had swings!), a tiny adorable grove of aspens halfway down Marshall Pass, and a beautiful reservoir with epic stormy skies! Our week ended in Del Norte with the Hand family for a couple days and we were SO LUCKY to have met them and stayed with them! Their daughters are planning on hiking the El Camino trail from France to Spain next summer and so it was SO FUN to hear all the details about that! There are so many great trips out there!!!

The week started out with a nice mellow climb up Boreas Pass which turned out to be UNREAL with the Aspen alleys and all the colors changing. Haha we also saw a LOT of people driving the road and pulling over to take pictures and hike a bit. PRIME people watching as we climbed which was awesome. I love days when there are loads of people outside of their cars because it's easier to approach them and start conversations. We met some stellar folks on Boreas Pass and had a good time explaining our setups and talking about our trip. We also met this guy Masa who is from Japan and is biking from Vancouver to Peru! He is a schoolteacher and each week skypes his classroom to talk about his trip and open their minds to what's out there. Super cool!!

This week we got to roll through Breckenridge which was adorable as well as my new favorite city in Colorado (besides Golden where I went to school) SALIDA! I should have known it was going to be amazing just based off of the epic descent into town! It was GORGEOUS and we had views of a handful of 14ers in the distance! As we rolled into Salida I could just feel the good vibes -- people were cruising around on bikes and just super duper friendly. We went to Moonlight Pizza and Brewery which was EVERYTHING and MORE (except they had run out of ice cream) and they even had a big area for bike parking which was RAD! Instead of rolling out early as usual, we hit up the Salida Library and then supermarket just to soak it all up a little longer and to kill time since we didn't have far to ride that day. While in the supermarket, I noticed this adorable older gentleman looking at my bike. So, I walked over and we got to chatting and I got to learn a lot about Bob and how he ended up in Salida over 25 years ago. He was SO NICE and such a pleasure to talk with! The highlights of this trip can definitely be whittled down to conversations with new friends and landscapes.

Another neat individual that we met this week actually took place in a laundromat in Del Norte earlier today with a man named Alex. He is 61 and is the father of three kids and husband to a nonstop go getter wife. Together they've bike toured through Europe, hiked 460 miles of the Appalachian Trail, visited most all the national parks in Texas and much more. He is retired Military and in May just retired from the Police Force. He also spent a number of years teaching history in high school and helped organize programs to serve "troubled" youth. Oh and he also is a professional dog trainer and told us loads of fascinating stories about when he was a K9 Officer and when he was contracted various times to go overseas with dogs. Talk about an interesting man! He spoke with us like he does his kids and encouraged us to continue to try new things (like we're doing with bikepacking) and said that if we're lucky we'll find something that people have said can't be done and we'll do it and then we'll want to keep doing it and share it with others. Wow that was a long run on sentence but yeah. Alex was legit.

Other than rad conversations with neat people, this week came with a cool experience. It was Friday and our ride for the first 50 miles had been relaxing and beautiful (as the entire week had been), when we descended from a climb and were greeted by storm clouds and headwinds. For the final 25 miles of the day we rode into the wind with storm clouds above all the while being chilled to the bone. When we only had about ten miles left it started hailing on us which threw me for a trip but then two thoughts came to mind: 1) thankfully it's hailing and not raining 2) we can do hard things. Not long after that the hail stopped and I crested this little hill and saw Del Norte in a blanket of sun! I looked back and cheered Katie on as she joined me and she probs thought I was crazy for taking a pic at that point (since it was freezing) but I'm glad I did because it captured an awesome moment.

This ride has been great for many reasons but one of the main ones has to be seeing Katie and myself push through sicknesses, cold weather, pain, etc. and accomplish our goals. At the end of each week it's hard for me to remember the details of how far we rode or if we did any climbing because I'm just so stoked that we're out here and experiencing all of this with all of the amazing people we come across. If you have any reservations as to whether you have what it takes to go on that trip that you've been thinking of, YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES.

Sponsor SHOUTOUT has to go to Blackburn for their Outpost Handlebar Roll which has been my saving grace when it comes to fitting anything and everything on my bike. In the roll itself I keep my Big Agnes sleeping bag and tent (Katie carries the poles) as well as my Kitsbow Icon shirt and wireless foldable keyboard. On the outside of the roll on a normal day I carry bear spray (which we don't need anymore), my Mora knife, a Blackburn Click USB front light, a whistle and the map. This past week we hit up a handful of markets which meant that I'd go a bit crazy and end up with lots of extra stuff to carry (mainly root beer) but NOT A PROBLEM between my outpost handlebar roll and outpost seat pack I can comfortably carry a couple drinks, bags of candy (typically a big bag of peanut m&ms and gummy bears or hot tamales), avocados, apples, and energy bars on top of all the other stuff in/on those bags. Yay for awesome bags!!!

PS. Amanda the ALLSTAR Blackburn Ranger from last year came to visit on Saturday night through Sunday! It was SO RAD of her to make the long drive out and we had TONS OF FUN talking trail and catching up!!! On Sunday morning she went and biked Indiana Pass to relive her GDMBR glory days a bit and then we hung out a bit more before sending her off on the road for the long drive home. Oh and proof that she is an ALLSTAR, she brought us Sparkling Pumpkin Apple Cider, garlic cheese, the TASTIEST pepper crackers, lemon yogurt covered almonds, licorice and much much more!!! THANK YOU AMANDA!!!!!


- The night sky in Del Norte
- Highest Continental Divide Crossing at 11,410' Boreas Pass
- Aspen leaf changes
- Views of the Colorado 14ers (14 ranges above 14,000')
- Lots of chocolate milk
- Being in the middle of a cattle herd

Low points
- Headwinds and hail heading into Del Norte
- Icy nights
- Cow and mice fecies

The past week can be summed up by tall mountains, long passes, beautiful fall colors, cold nights, and good people and good food.

Colorado has been good to us. We've made our way into Del Norte, CO and are hitting some cold weather, temperatures reaching below freezing, so it's a good time to be heading south. This last week we passed through many well-known ski and mountain biking towns including Breckenridge, Salida, and Frisco. All of which were filled with beautiful falls colors. Here the main deciduous tree is the Aspen and it looks beautiful in the fall turning from green to yellow to orange and red all amongst the evergreens. These views have filed much of our days and I just can't get enough. We even got to see the range of 14 mountains above 14,000 right outside of Salida. However, Colorado has come with its wind and rain. We've gotten a lot of short rainstorms that come throughout the day and in the evenings and winds that have chilled me to the core even while biking:/

This last week hasn't been too eventful, but I guess that's all relative in terms of bike packing. We've had a little easier week in terms of miles which has allowed us to practice our watercolor painting, look into jobs and a way home after the ride, and given us more time to interact with locals including Bob in Salida, Robin and Masa at Boreas Pass, Alex in Del Norte, and so many others. We learned more about others hiking and biking adventurers, the places to back to for mountain biking in Colorado, dog training, and new ways to travel. People are so interesting and they teach you so much.

As we've had a lot of climbing this week it's given way to a lot of thinking. I can tend to be a worrier so my minds starts to wander into the time when the ride is over. What will I do for work, how will I incorporate this trip into my regular life, how will I go back to eating like a normal Juan being. Lots to think about and yet sometimes it distracts from living in the moment and just enjoying the ride. I'm so glad I'm out here (except on the days when I'm cold:) and am glad Laura and I have taken some time to experience life and travel in a whole new way. It's opened me up to a whole new way of travel and though I think it would be great fun to bikepacking through other countries it's helped remind me how much there is right outside your door. Beauty is all around if we just learn to appreciate it.


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Katie & Laura

Gear List

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- Complete Gear and Bike spec lists coming soon! -

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Katie & Laura
  • What was the genesis moment or inspiration for your upcoming adventure? When Laura called me on the phone and said, "Hey I found this Ranger program while I was on the train today and I thought that you'd be a good PIC (partner in crime)."
  • Have you traveled by bike in the past? Yes -- a couple of smaller bike packing trips
  • What is your goal for the route? Our goal is to morph all of our random outdoor skills into a successful ride of the Great Divide!
  • What do you hope to get out of this journey? I see this as a soul-searching adventure for 2 months. I want to be able to get away from my normal 6am-3pm job and be on an adventure that separates me from life's distractions. I want to share my experiences with various biking communities along the route and hope to learn from them as well.

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