Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Climb Every Mountain...Ford Every Stream

The hills were alive with the sound of Andrea breathing really hard and cursing under her breath. Ok, enough 3rd person. Yes, Ira and I have successfully completed our first mountain crossing. We took highway 16 over and through the Big Horn Mountain range. We began in Buffalo, WY at an elevation of 4645 ft and crossed at the Powder River pass at 9666 ft climbing a total of 5021 ft in 30 miles. The entire route was about 60 miles so we had about 30 miles uphill which took us about 7 hours and then 30 miles downhill in 45 minutes.

Climbing was very hard, but I have been mentally preparing myself for this for a long time. I knew the mountains were going to be hard. There are no hills in Chicago, so I am not very good a climbing. I have slowly been getting stronger, but I knew this would be the real test.

We went slow and took our time. The weather wasn't too hot, in fact it cooled down enough for us to experience a 20 minute long hail storm which was fun. I say that sarcastically but I would still far rather have this then the heat!

It takes a lot of mental strength to be climbing a hill, feel your strength rapidly depleting and look on to see the road keep curving up indefinitely. I stopped at one point and felt like I couldn't make it another any further. I looked at my map and I read I only had a couple more miles to go till the pass, so Ira forced me to continue. As it turned out, the pass was right around the corner only about 1/2 a mile and as you can see I was incredibly excited.

Then we saw this wonderful sign, and our hearts jumped for joy!!!

The descent was much more attractive then the ascent. We rode down into the Tensleep Valley. The road curves with many cut backs because this side of the mountains is very steep. The Cliffs encircled us in varying shades of reds, pinks, browns, and yellows. The rock formations at the tops were jagged and very interesting to the eye. We had to be very careful not to look too much or we might go zooming off a curve of the road (and a 100 ft cliff) at 40 mph. (Don't worry family, I was wearing my helmet and Ira was carrying the camera so I wasn't tempted to take any photos while riding although I can't say the same for Ira).

It was hard, but I was able to accomplish this mountain crossing, so I feel a little more confident about the future ones. I have heard the Big Horns are steeper then the Rockies, so we hope our future in Yellowstone and through Montana won't be too rough... we hope.


Karen Newberry said...

Hey Andrea,
I'm having fun following you guys, sounds like a great adventure! I think I would have hitched a ride up that mountain tho, but what an accomplishment! Just think how good the flat mid-west will look on your way back, ha! There are lots of mountains to come, but hopefully it will be easier. Have fun!

Anonymous said...

You two are truly amazing and inspiring. It is solely due to each of you that I have decided to use the elevator for only 4 floors and use the stairs for the last floor.

Really I am proud and amazed at the both of you, I am not a person that misses many but I can share that I miss you!