Charcoal in Colorado

Another cup of tea time chaps and chapettes, you're going to like this one as I get myself into another little scrape.

It's great to be heading east once more, no more afternoon sun in my eyes as my shadow stetches away in front of me. I'm crossing the state line from Utah into Colorado.

Some threatening looking clouds ahead of me,
which I ignored at the time, more fool me as you will find out as you read on.

A beautiful sunset, if a little strange looking - but then I don't live in the mountains and maybe this is normal for around here

Time to head off the road and find somewhere to camp

A nice little spot in a deserted canyon for my tent.

There were some strange noises though, the occasional coughing noise, which made me a bit nervous as they reminded me of leopards coughing in Africa. I know there aren't any leopards here, but do mountain lions cough?? Made a mental note to self to make sure that I take my tyre levers into the tent with me tonight.

While I was mooching around taking a look at my canyon, I started to notice these bits of white stuff floating around

Could that possibly be ash? I had been hearing about fires in Colorado.
I did a Charlie Coates (my Dad/survival guru) and checked the direction of the wind with some bits of grass- hmm, it seemed to be coming from the direction of some funny looking clouds, on having a second look I decided they might be far off distant clouds of smoke.

Feeling a bit concerned but not wanting to be a bloody Cassandra (drama queen) about the situation, I checked in with my friend Shelly who handily happens to be a forest fire fighter based in Colorado!! But she was in the middle of some work stuff, and we had some connecting problems with the phone, unusually (and luckily for me) there was a variable signal of sorts in the canyon; mostly in rural areas I don't get one at all. So we had a couple of texts going backwards and forwards until she could get to a computer.
About 45 minutes later she got back to me saying there were some fires not too far away, but I would probably be OK. then suddenly after another 10 mins she was urgently trying to get hold of me to say she's been on the fire brigade infra-red website and she has found my exact position through my GPS SPOT locator (I'd been a bit vague/unsure of my exact location but was within 20 miles) and she says get out NOW, the fire is less than 5 miles from me and being blown my way straight up my peaceful canyon!

Now that she mentioned it, maybe that sky did look a bit more threatening than I had thought

I threw everything back onto Thelma, folded the tent a bit and strapped it onto my pillion seat (no time for niceties like rolling and packing) and roared off- by this point there was quite a bit of ash.

I only needed to go 12 miles down the road to be safe, but it meant I was off-roading in the dark trying to find somewhere flat for my tent.

It's getting dark and I'm running out of options, not many tracks leading off the road, I finally found one and followed it, I was about to stop when an awful stench came wafting past my nose, I pointed Thelma's headlight to find this

A cow that was definitely deceased and stinking. I quite like the way the tail is still jauntily waving in the air.

I tried to go upwind from it but the trail got very narrow and was right next to the road. I had to admit defeat, as I didn't feel like heading back onto more tarmac and so put my tent up 200 yards downwind from Ermintrude. Lying in my sleeping bag and catching the occasional waft of decomposing cattle. But thanking my lucky stars for Shelly and for my SPOT locator.