Today began well enough. Eric was back at 5 AM. We enjoyed coffee and a great breakfast at Cook’s Station then packed up to leave.
The rain that was supposed to come last night arrived just as we were packing, so we left into the wet, cloudy morning. Cook’s Station is at 5,000 ft, and we knew we had a tough, 3 step climb to 7,000 ft in less than 12 miles. 6,000 ft came and went and the rain kept coming down. We started seeing patches of snow, and by 6,500 ft the ground was completely covered. By 7,000 ft there were 6-10 foot walls of snow on either side of the road. The big problem was the temperature kept dropping. By the time we got to 7,100 ft it was 37 degrees and we were wet from the rain. Being cold and wet made us slow, and being slow kept us from building heat. At 7,100 ft we hit a descent, and for several minutes we were not pedaling, had a 20-25 mph wind coming at us, and we were wet and cold. That was the final straw. Both of us were numb in the fingers and toes, and I was starting large muscle group shivering, an early sign of hypothermia. We still had 1,500 ft to climb and the temperature was dropping inside and out! We stopped and fired up the camp stove, trying to warm up and dry out our gloves. This met with only marginal success, as it was still windy and raining.
After about 20 minutes of this a very nice guy named Mike, driving an empty pickup truck, stopped to see if we were okay. We GLADLY accepted a ride over the pass. From 8,000 to 8,500 ft it was snowing and the temperature dropped to the low 30′s. Contrary to the radar picture on the weather channel this morning, it was raining all the way down the east side of the pass. I just can’t imagine us making that descent on wet roads being that cold. LOTS of potential for getting seriously hurt. Mike dropped us at a restaurant where we ate lunch, drank hot tea, and generally warmed up. Then we rode the last 12 miles into Carson City.
The Hampton Inn was warm and dry, had a laundry room and a jacuzzi, and those were the things that fit the bill for the night just right. Back on the bikes again tomorrow, but tonight it is clean sheets and soft pillows.