Day 26, 8/2
Miles: 8.7 (+2 in wrong direction)
Mileage: 357.4 – 366.1
I’m woken up much to early for a town day, before 7am, by a loud voice talking in the living room. Grumbling, I stumble to the bathroom then back to bed, try to close my eyes again but all I hear is loud voices. Instead of sleeping I read emails, check Facebook and Instagram, look through my texts. After a while Bibbs, Squat and I walk next door to the coffee shop to use the wifi and get some breakfast. We sit there for a very long time talking and drinking coffee, enjoying the bliss of a relaxing morning. There’s music playing in this coffee shop, music that I like, and I realize how much I really miss hearing music on the trail. I close my eyes occasionally and let the sweet sound of tunes sink into my brain. I think about how good it makes me feel, how some of these songs touch me in a very deep place. I truly am in heaven right now, I think. Listening to this music, drinking a delicious coffee and eating a bagel, enjoying the company and conversation of two friends, sitting in this coffee shop that has good vibes and a fun atmosphere. I love town days.
We spend most of the day sitting, wasting time but not actually wasting time- it’s called rest- texting and talking on the phone, posting pictures and blogs. Several more of our friends show up a little after noon, we hang out and catch up on the last few days. Squat and I make our way to the small grocery store where everything is outrageously priced to buy our food for the next three days. We stop at the convenience store for snacks, Two Piece is there, and we decide to head over for ice cream. I order a double scoop of four different flavors, and the thing is HUGE. I mean it’s BIG. It’s four scoops, really. I don’t think I’m gonna be able to eat all of it because it’s like the size of my head, but I end up eating all but about five bites.
There’s word of a Yurt about 8 miles into the next segment, so Squat, Bibbs and I decide to take a nero instead of a zero, get to the yurt tonight, and have a shorter day tomorrow. We had planned to leave town around 3 but we’re having too good of a time, so it’s 4:30 when we start hitching. It takes longer than usual to find a hitch, but eventually a nice guy gives us a ride, and once again he’s not even going in that direction. People are so generous around here.
It’s 5:45 when we start walking. We have a little over 8 miles to walk and it is a gradual climb, so we estimate that we’ll get there between 9 and 9:15, right when it gets dark. 6 miles in we see a trailer out in the middle of a field, in the middle of no where. Well that’s strange, I think, who would be out here and what is a trailer doing in the middle of a random field? We start walking towards it to investigate, two dogs run towards us, and a man walks out who doesn’t look very friendly. We turn around and head back for the path. Next thing I know the man is walking towards us, and eventually catches up. I’m a little nervous at first but my fears diminish quickly. The man barely speaks english, but we find out he’s a sheep herder from Peru. He’s loud and talkative and eccentric, talking 90% in Spanish but occasionally using an English word. Through my broken Spanish and his broken English, we have quite a long conversation, then he points into the field behind us where we see hundreds and thousands of sheep. 2,500 sheep, to be exact. The man walks with us for a few minutes up the hill, then wants to take pictures. He wants to take a lot of pictures- selfies with all four of us, then a picture with each of us individually. He sincerely shakes our hands and happily says goodbye and best wishes, then heads into the field to heard his sheep.
I’m laughing up the hill thinking about that funny exchange, until we turn a corner and in front of us is a spectacular sunset. It’s amazing! The sky is still blueish, but the clouds are lit up a bright, golden/orange color. A silhouette of the mountains in the distance make for a picturesque scene. We walk off the trail higher up onto the hill and I take picture after picture, trying to capture each color of the sky as it changes by the moment. We all three are yelling with excitement, exclaiming how beautiful it is and how glad we are that we came out here tonight. The whole sky turns golden, followed by dark orange, and the clouds eventually start to get darker creating a beautiful contrast in colors.
Now though, we still have about 2 1/2 miles to walk, and the sun is behind the hills. It’s getting cold too. I’m still wearing my shorts but I don’t want to take the time to dig out my warmer clothes so I just throw on my rain jacket and walk fast. We’ll get there in about an hour, I can handle that. I put my headlamp on when it gets dark and start speeding down the jeep road.
45 minutes later or so, we start to question where we’re at. We’ve started to walk back uphill, and that isn’t showing on the elevation profile. We check the map again. We look in front of us, as far as our headlamps will allow, and as far as we know it continues uphill. This definitely can’t be right. We try to estimate how many miles we’ve walked… 9 maybe? The Colorado Trail should have left the jeep track and started on single track at mile 7.9, but we didn’t see a turn off. Were we paying close enough attention? We’re afraid to turn back if we haven’t gone far enough yet, but after looking at the map several times I decide that I’m 95% positive that we’ve gone too far, and I think we need to turn back.
It’s 9:20. We decide to walk until 9:45 and if we don’t find anything, we’ll throw our tents up wherever we are and find it in the morning, in daylight. Back the way we just came we go, back up the steep jeep track that we just walked down for no reason. Squat and Bibbs start to question where we’re headed after about 15 minutes of breathing heavily up this steep road, but I feel more and more certain that we’re getting close.
“We’re almost there, just a little bit farther”, I repeat several times as we walk.
I can tell that Bibbs isn’t certain like I am, and she’s about ready to give up and put her tent up right here and now. I make sure to sound extra enthusiastic and extra sure that I know where we’re at so that she doesn’t give up just yet. If Bibbs gives up, Squat will give up. If Squat gives up, I don’t have a choice. But I’m determined to find this yurt. I know it’s close, within a mile, I think.
Finally I see a stick up ahead- anyone who travels by trail knows that a stick is a very good sign- it usually means a trail marker. Another 50 feet and now I’m certain, this is it! We yell, we scream, we’re totally enthused. Finally we’re back on the trail! Now we know the yurt is less than a mile away. Now our only challenge is going to be finding it in the trees- we don’t know exactly how far into the trees it is, we don’t know if our headlamps will even shine far enough to show us.
We make our way very slowly down the trail. Half the time I light up my next couple steps with my headlamp, the other half of the time I shine it to my right into the trees, looking for the yurt. A half a mile of this and we’re starting to get discouraged. Well, shit. Are we even gonna find it? Have we gone all this way and walked all this distance in the dark for no reason?
Suddenly I see a pair of glowing eyes in the trees. I hate seeing glowing eyes- they freak me out. I yell for Squat to get close to me and I start banging my sticks together and talking really loud. Now the three of us are walking down the trail in the pitch dark, headlamps pointing back and forth between the trees and the trail, sticks banging together, yelling and talking loud about absolutely nothing, just to make ourselves feel better because we know there’s animals staring us down in the trees.
“Look! A light!” Bibbs yells.
I retreat a few steps back to where she saw it, and sure enough it looks like a headlamp! We yell towards the light. We hear a faint holler of a guys voice in the distance, up in the trees!
“YES! We found it!” We all scream.
We walk quickly up the hill through the grass and trees, occasionally yelling towards the light so the voice can guide us there. Finally we reach the yurt, and there’s Brian! We’re all so happy that we finally have made it that we can’t stop yelling and squealing with joy. As it turns out, Brian was asleep in the yurt and had given up on us showing up tonight, when he heard a loud voice- my voice- that he recognized. He got up and opened the door to listen, and sure enough when he knew it was us he went and got his headlamp.
Thank God for those two beady eyes in the trees, for if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have started making a bunch of noise, Brian wouldn’t have heard us, we wouldn’t have seen his headlamp, thus we may not have found the yurt. A truly awesome and miraculous series of events!
We stumble into the yurt and throw our things down. It’s 10:40. It’s much too late to eat dinner, so I quickly scarf down a beef stick, brush my teeth, rip out my sleeping bag, and crawl into bed. We all talk back and forth from our beds for the next 20 minutes or so, still too worked up to fall asleep right away. What a day! So many things have happened. I catch up on my blog then lie awake for a moment, thinking about how lucky we are to have found the yurt, and how good it feels to be falling asleep under a roof.