A recovery day was needed after a Silverton beer soaked night hanging out with the locals listening to Howie Stern casually sit on his amp and rip through Jimi Hendrix like he was ripping through his 7th Hardrock.
Before bidding Silverton goodbye, I hit Handies Peak via Grouse Gulch with an early morning race against the sun trying to poke its head up and over the first saddle.
Down the other side and through American Basin, the switch turned on and Handies beckoned with thin wispy clouds.
Standing at a mere 14,058', Handies may fall at number forty on Colorado's fifty-three 14'ers but its view of the San Juans stacking up is nothing short of epic.
I shared the summit with Ken and Linda who were doing a small 14'er tour of southwestern Colorado. As Ken and I were busy marveling at the surrounding peaks and talking Hardrock, Linda quietly slipped out of her hard shell. Then the soft shell came off and then a blue base layer gave way to a DayGlo orange tank top. At first I thought she was hard core and trying to get her shells to dry but quickly became scared she was prepping for some kind of Cabo Wabo summit shot. As I said "just keep going," Ken turned around to see Cabo Wabo go down to a jog bra and burst out laughing. Instead of a being a "Peakbagger", Linda is a very attractive 14'er "Peakjugger." Without wasting any more time in the cold morning air the jog bra was off and I gave her her hard fought moment of glory.
All layered up again we high-fived to her remaining fifty 14'er shoots and dropped off the summit together
before I split off and spent the afternoon lazing about in Grouse Gulch's afternoon sun and wind protected warmth.
Sadly, Handies was my last peak in Colorado for a while as I headed north to Denver to spend a great weekend with friends Geoff and Aline and their kids and get packed up and ready to head to Equador. Cuenca is going to be home base for about a month as I work on becoming less of a gringo. From there the plan is to jump down a bit north of Patagonia and ride with the winds south to Ushuaia during the summer and then return to where I started in Chile and begin riding north through the rest of South America. Kind of a chopped up route at the moment, but I'll take it day by day and see what ultimately works best in terms of prevailing winds, weather windows and route suggestions.