Weird Weather and Fort Collins

April 27, 2017
Devils Tower, WY to Fort Collins, CO


Made it up to the trail around Devils Tower at sunrise—no, really! We woke up at 5:30am after sleeping with my phone and charger in my sleeping bag (to keep it from freezing/dying), and waking to my alarm coming from what sounded like inside my pants. With the sun rising behind the tower, Al was so happy! His excitement is infectious, which should serve us well on the PCT. I tend to be painfully neutral in the face of almost all things, and his enthusiasm reminds me to perk up every once in a while.

Alex looked out of the tent this morning, saw the tower doing what it does best (that is, to say, what a tower does best is towering) over us, and turned his head back into the tent with a full-on WOW! face. Eyebrows raised, eyes as big as saucers, mouth agape. We took five seconds to spin the merry-go-round a few times, then headed up to walk around the tower. We were the only people there! It was serene, with this giant rock that used to be alive and destructive and now it's silent, huge, and has to sit there while humans scale its massive columns.

Alex drove out from Devils Tower expecting that we'd be heading straight to Fort Collins with nothing particularly exciting to see on the way. Surprise! I secretly navigated us to Ayers Natural Bridge, one of only three natural arches with water running beneath its arch, giving it the special distinction of 'bridge' rather than just a plain ol' arch. We drove through some hellish weather to get to this hidden natural monument—sudden sheets of rain, then hail, then snow, then more hail. The second we stopped driving, however, those dang clouds parted right up. A little patch of blue sky hovered over the bridge, giving us just enough time for a quick exploration. Then, back in the car and it was hailing again within 60 seconds. I shit you not.

We drove toward Cheyenne and right when we were an hour from Fort Collins we hit a full-on blizzard. I mean, cars are driving 20 miles an hour on the interstate because there's next to zero visibility or traction. I'm thinking "gee, what a great time to bike around and explore Fort Collins". Well, as serendipity would have it the clouds parted right as we rolled into Fort Collins. The solarium hostel that we stayed at looked like a complete dump from the outside, like one of those decrepit office buildings that houses bad lawyers and a sketchy dental operation. Instead of meeting my pessimistic expectations, the inside was heavenly. There's a massive glass-roofed atrium that looks and smells like a conservatory or giant tropical greenhouse. There are so many plants and cool spots to hang out and it smells like an equatorial garden. Out of a blizzard, into paradise.

We showered, (really fast! A feat of speed!) and biked to New Belgium, where I'm writing this from. It feels corporate and a little too polished, a lot like the Surly taproom, but I appreciate the sunny patio and Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Pale Ale after that long, harrowing car ride. I will admit, surprisingly, that I'm much more excited to bike to (and drink beer at) Odell's.


I feel like I already covered the weather. It was bananas. It felt like a glimpse of mountain weather that we're going to see on the Pacific Crest Trail. Fort Collins is beautiful, and has a great small-town-doing-big-things vibe.

People Moments

I wanted to hug Alex a lot today, so I did. I'm so happy that my dad is texting and calling so much. I want him to have adventure in his life. I told all that I would love it if dad called me every day even when I'm on trail. Ashley Plouff is texting me, and she wants to send us stuff on the trail (very exciting!). Tomorrow we get to see Bryan Lamb, also very exciting.


The ponderosa pines smell like Necco wafers, not like pine trees I think of at home. I know this because I smelled several of them, right up against the bark, and it's 100% Necco wafer.


Today we listened to two great things: Jim Carrey's commencement speech, and an Accidental Creative podcast about fulfilling certain buckets in life. I need to download those so I can listen to them on trail, when I don't have any service.