No Sympathy for the Devil


Nothing bothered our morning, not a curious bear, mountain lion, or enraged landowner. Our breakfast consisted of oats which rivaled construction grade cement but they were glorious for we were tired and deserving of them. We were weary, sun burnt, and determined to make it to the top of Devil’s Head (9,800 feet). Rob & I had pushed hard the day before. As coastal inhabitants it was fascinating to strive so hard in such rarified air. I kept thinking of the Everest ascenders and the difficulties they face. We packed up our tents slowly, I still felt woozy from the altitude.


The sun spilled over the ridges around us and heated the gulch we were in. We did not make it far. After a few bends in the road and a few steep uphill jaunts we stopped in the shade. Rob & I looked dubiously at our water containers. We planned to drink the rest of what we were carrying on the cycle up Rampart Range Road, a dirt cutoff at the top of the ridge. Our plan seemed to fall apart the instant we realized we wanted to stay at elevation for nearly a week, climbing and camping. We had the food, but not the water. Colorado was drier than we thought and there were no streams; could we risk it all and collect from the storms? How hard would it be to bail at elevation, dehydrated and tired? We had planned so well, and pushed so hard to get to the point we were at. What could be done?

We made a pro and con list, a trick my father has me employ whenever the decision making gets tough and my judgement may be hazy or clouded. I took out my waterproof journal and pen and scribbled our options. The least favorable was to continue. The most favorable was to cycle all the way back to Denver. It was all downhill and we knew the way. From Denver, we would continue to Devil’s Head by car and climb. Rock climbing was always our priority and main interest in Colorado. Cycling was the connection between cliffs. We turned around and zipped down the gulch. We descended what took us four hours and a rough night’s sleep in about twenty minutes. We were back in Sedalia talking again with the owner of the general store.


About Clint Valentine

Clint is currently enrolled in two undergraduate degrees in Biology & Environmental Science at Northeastern University. He enjoys pursuits of endurance and distance which have included summiting many peaks in New England during winter alpine ascents, sailing the Atlantic in a vintage gaff-rigged schooner, rock climbing in five states including Oregon, and cycling 5,000 miles across North America. He has goals of pushing the envelope of his limits and combining his many outdoors interests into one big trip. He has a passion for photography and hopes to one day produce a documentary for a round-the-world tour.
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