Day 25, 8/1
Mileage: 346.6 – 357.4
We wake early, 5:30, and I sit up to eat a fruit and nut bar. Not as tasty as a pop tart but I don’t care! It’s town day! The plan is to make it to the trailhead by noon and catch the free shuttle at 12:30 provided by a trail angel. We’ve heard Lake City is the hardest hitch on the trail, so apparently this nice lady brings people to and from the hostel at noon everyday. Truly an angel!
Although I’m excited and antsy for town it still takes me a long time to get ready. I can tell my body is tired and is just asking me for a break, wondering why I’m feeding it crap then forcing it to walk miles and miles, up and down hills and mountains, day in and day out. Bibbs is out about 15 minutes before us, Squat and I walk out of camp at 7:18. Today shouldn’t be too hard- a 3 mile climb followed by some downhill, then a long walk across Snow Mesa which is relatively flat, followed by two miles down to the trailhead. 11 miles and we will be in town!
What will I eat? Pizza? No, a burger sounds better. Or maybe Mexican food? A salad. I should eat a salad. Alright, a burger and a salad it is. And some ice cream. I need to make a list of stuff we need to remember in town- buy fuel, clean stove, figure out how to back flush my filter, Squat needs a new toothbrush, more TP, we’re out of Starbucks via packets. Can’t forget the Starbucks via’s. I can’t wait to shower. I can’t wait for my clothes to not stink anymore. Oh and beer! How nice it will be to relax and drink a beer!
These are the thoughts that meander around in my brain as we walk. These are the thoughts that every hiker thinks on town days, really.
I see Bibbs up ahead, and I catch her at the top of the climb. More spectacular views, more trying to capture them on my camera. My phone goes dead in the middle of taking a panoramic picture… Damn! I have to stick with my camera for the rest of the day, and my camera kind of sucks. But oh well, I still get to SEE these views with my own eyes! Squat and I get to Snow Mesa, and she is walking in front of me, fast. We’re walking on a giant, giant plateau of grass, at about 12,400 feet. The only way I can tell I’m up this high is when I look to my left- I can see the cliffs of the plateau in the distance, dropping down into the valley. Behind me the Mesa abruptly ends at the mountains we just came off of. Otherwise as far as my eyes can see it’s just grass and small rolling hills stretching far and wide.
We walk across this expanse of grass at a ridiculously fast pace- probably 4+ mph, I guess. On a normal day Squat walks a steady pace, not too fast but not too slow, and sometimes she likes to meander her way down the trail at a comfortable pace for her, probably deep in thought or enjoying the landscape. Some days lately, though, out of her comes what I’ve decided to name “Squats turbo reserves”. I saw this yesterday, running from the storm, and now she’s doing it today, heading across the Mesa towards town. She’s moving FAST. I have to push myself to keep up. It’s kind of enjoyable though, and I walk behind her moving my legs as quickly as they’ll allow me to go.
We reach the trailhead at 11:15- 45 minutes faster than planned. We high-five and shout with joy, throw our packs off and visit with Peggy who’s also just arrived at the trailhead. When Bibbs makes it down we decide it may be faster to try to hitch rather than waiting an hour for the shuttle. Bibbs gets a ride from someone who can only fit one person, Simone and I get a ride a few minutes later from some day hikers coming down off the trail. They are SO nice. As it turns out, they are headed to Creede which is the opposite direction from Lake City- about 25 minutes in the opposite direction- but they insist on giving us a ride.
The nice couple drops us off at the hostel, we check in and find Brian there happy to see us arriving. We walk down the street and find a little diner, I order tacos which end up being somewhat small and disappointing for the price, but I do get filled up and it’s better than trail food so I really can’t complain too much.
The day passes by with normal town day activities: Meeting new people, eating more food, showering, walking down Main Street, checking out the sports store and grocery store, doing laundry, drinking beer, relaxing. We are a day ahead of everyone we hung out with in Salida. We miss our friends, but it ends up being a fun night with Bibbs and Brian, two worker guys who are taking their day off in town, and the townies.
There is a bar literally over the fence from the hostel, live music starts up at 8, and eventually I make my way one door over and join the worker guys by the fire. They buy my first beer and we sit and chat, yelling over the music, enjoying the warmth from the fire, the beautiful night, and a cold beer in my hand. I’m happy, so happy. The townies want to talk about my life and our trip, and I make a bunch of new friends per the usual. Finally 11 rolls around and I make my way back to the hostel, into my bed, all the while thinking about how lucky I am to be here, to be living this life and on this incredible adventure. I could not ask for more.