In the Saddle: Independence Pass adventure

Emily Palm
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” I was never a Boy Scout. Dad was, but that was many years ago in Southern California. Not that it should excuse our lack of preparedness for an impromptu bike ride up Highway 82 toward Independence Pass last week.

To start at the beginning, my parents visited from Portland, Ore., last week. Not sure if I would be able to procure the use of a bicycle for my father, no major rides were planned. At the last minute, co-worker Charlie Agar graciously lent his road bike for the greater cause of family time.

Since moving to Aspen almost two and a half months ago, I have almost exclusively ferried myself from my apartment on sixth and Main to work and back. Thus, the extent of my tour-guide capabilities went something like this: “Marta from work told me the ride up toward Independence Pass is neat.”

So we embarked on our journey. My initial goal was to merely make it to the closure gate on Highway 82. Then it turned into the classic scenario of, “Let’s just go a bit farther.”

Dad, being the competitive goal-oriented guy that raised me, began to sense the top of Independence Pass was near. As clouds rolled down the hillside ” indicating classic Rocky Mountain scenario of blue-bird skies one minute, only to puke snow the next ” Dad said, “It’s not that bad, we can make it.” Never mind the fact he grew up in San Diego.

We slogged our way up. Him on Agar’s light road bike, me on my 1,000-pound Costco Motive.

Did I mention we were both wearing blue-jeans and did not have water, gloves or warm hats? Luckily we did have rain jackets an thermal layers, albeit that mine was a cotton hoodie.

Pumping and pushing we passed mile marker 52 when a Colorado Department of Transportation truck passed us after its passengers’ hard day of work removing snow from the top. Upon hearing the news we were still seven miles from the top, we decided to turn around. After all, pellets of snow were now numbing our fingers.

Mile marker 52 was destination enough for Pops.

As we made our way down, we soon came upon the CDOT truck again. The workers had stopped for us. After seeing, briefly chatting with us and driving on, Jiminy Cricket on their shoulders told them to offer us a ride down.

So it was that Dad and I rode down the pass with our CDOT saviours: Don, Ed and Floyd. Thanks guys!

Dad has since returned to sea level, now feeling like Superman after a week of adventure at 8,000-plus feet.