Recently I had the honor to be asked to write a short essay for the new upcoming catalog for Big Agnes. Big Agnes is an outdoor company based in Steamboat, Colorado making some of the best tents, sleeping bags and down jackets in the business. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with them for over 5 years now. I hope you enjoy the words I made for their catalog.
Throughout Dejay and my trip along the Colorado Trail we had been extremely lucky with the weather. Traveling from Durango to Denver, we joked that we were in a weather dougnut hole. Storms constantly surrounding us, but never on us. Unfortunately for us, that dougnut hole was going to come crashing down on us on our eleventh day.
As the two of us made the final push towards Searle Pass outside of Copper, we seemed to have the power of the dougnut hole on our side for yet another day. Nearing the false summit we were unaware of the angry dragon of a storm waiting for us at the top.
With our first views of the Ten Mile Range we were greeted with looming dark and angry clouds. All of the peaks across the valley were now coated in white and you could see the storm beginning to make its way across the valley towards us.
Nearing the summit of the pass at 12,300 feet I jumped onto my bike and began pedaling with everything in my body. I look up to see the faint figure of Dejay jump on his bike and disappear over the summit. Hail was blowing in sideways hitting every millimeter of my side. A bolt of lightening just exploded on the open tundra no more then 50 feet to my left, my vision blurred from the blinding light.
The next bolt hit behind me somewhere. So close that again my vision turned to a blank white momentarily. I kept pedaling as hard as I could. The only thing running through my head was to pedal harder, pedal faster. Finding the summit and leaving it behind, I continued chasing after Dejay who was a hundred feet below me, riding with the same fear I felt.
After 5 or 6 lightening strikes within a very close distance we decided to take shelter. We were able to get just low enough to find some tundra brush to throw together an emergency shelter. A bush, my bike and a Fly Creek rainfly to provide protection from the pounding snow and hail.
Thunder continued to boom all around us as we huddled together, protected by nothing but nylon. I knew we were not safe. I wondered if this might be the script of my life, where the story would end. Looking down at my backpack I think of what I have to aid in making it out of this situation. Zipping open a small packet reveals a fresh dark chocolate bar. Pulling it out I offer some up to Dejay who quickly declines as he is franticly digs in his backpack.
Opening the chocolate I take a bite. I figured that if we did get struck, I would at least be enjoying life to the end. Luckily for us the lightening passed but the snow was only increasing in intensity. It was time to move! After about an hour of frightful riding through frigid temperatures and on wet and sloppy trails we made it to the safety of the Phillips 66 in Copper. A big thank you to our friend Sam for swooping us up from our wet and frozen hideout.