The Colorado Trail: Day 8
Trail towns are a very strange part of thru hiking. I love them and I hate them. I love them for the obvious reasons. I love them for the pizza, for the ice cream, for the warm showers, and soft beds. But amidst all that, I feel like trail towns take me away from this primitive thing that is so integral to why I thru hike in the first place. I think I wrote a little bit about this when I went into Silverton. I didn’t stay in Silverton very long at all (just long enough to resupply, recharge my electronics, and to eat a bowl of soup), but even there I could feel the draw. There’s a freedom to knowing that if I want a chocolate bar I can go to the gas station and get one. If I want ice cream, a hot shower, or pretty much anything, I know it’s there. Even from these little tiny towns like Silverton and Lake City, the amenities are immeasurable in comparison to what I have tucked away into my backpack. So I love trail towns, but I hate them too. I hate how addictive they are, but my ability to get back on the trail is perhaps a testament to how much I want to be out here in the first place.
I should go ahead and say, now that I’ve bashed trail towns a bit, that I really enjoyed my time in Lake City. I was picked up by a trail angel who drove me into town and refused to accept compensation for her time or her gas. The generosity of some people is really hard to put into words. She also toured me around the little town and showed me where everything is, which was a big help. After being on the trail for a week, going into a town, even a little town like Lake City, can be overwhelming, so to have an idea where everything was located was really helpful.
She ultimately dropped me off at the Raven’s Den (or Raven’s Rest?) hostel in Lake City. I have nothing but good to say about that place. "Lucky," the owner was super cool and laid back, and if I’m not mistaken, everyone staying there was a CT hiker. I think that there were 8 or 10 of us in total. It was my first time really having a social connection with other hikers, since almost everyone is headed southbound and although I meet a lot of them on trail, our time together is always exceedingly brief. Being at the hostel however provided me time to get to know a couple of them, and in a way it reminded me of being on the PCT. I’m ultimately grateful that I’m going the opposite direction though, because I could feel the draw to want to hike with them and follow their agenda if I were going the same direction. The fact that I’m going the opposite direction made it easier to stick with my own plans and stay for as long as I needed and leave when I needed. I must note how funny it is however that one of hikers who showed up there, “Wonder Woman,” lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, which is only about 25 miles away from my home of Sedona. Funny how small the world is.
I got a shower right away, went through the hiker box for supplies, ran to the laundry mat, hit the grocery store, laid out all my food for the next stretch (104 miles), and then the rest of the time was mostly relaxation. I spent a lot of time going through my photos and videos and trying to organize them so that it wont be so overwhelming when I get through the hike, and then probably an hour posting photos online and posting trail journals like this one. A part of me wishes that I could post these journals the day that they’re written, but I’ll suffice for waiting in between trail towns (after all, I don't have much choice in the matter).
I should also note that after I had everything set for today’s departure, I went down to the Cannibal Grill (The town’s claim to fame is the fact that it’s the site where a gruesome slaughter of several people took place followed by subsequent cannibalism of the bodies back in the 1800’s, so a lot of the town is cannibal themed... kind of weird, but you have to love it for the uniqueness) where I politely devoured a cup of tomato bisque soup, and an entire pizza all by my lonesome. I don’t drink anymore, but mostly for the sake of celebrating my first long leg of the trail, I ordered an N/A beer which I couldn’t even finish after stuffing myself with pizza. I felt a little bit of guilt over the pizza since my diet has been so much clearer on the CT than it was on the PCT, but I figured that I’d burn off the calories in the next 100 miles or so. Oh—speaking of calories, I also had a really good workout in the park across the street from the hostel.
I slept absolutely terribly last night. It took me awhile to adjust to sleeping in my tent, but at this point, I’m much more comfortable out here than I am in a bunk house with 10 other hikers. I’m grateful to be under the stars again tonight, and I’m way behind on sleep, so I’m going to have to bring this journal to an end in the not so distant future.
But this morning I had scrambled eggs and then went down to the local bakery (can’t recommend them enough! They may be modest, but everything that I had there was amazing! I was going to bring the banana bread on trail with me but I couldn’t even get out of town before eating it.) for a small addition to the eggs. I wanted to catch the 12:00 shuttle out of town, but didn’t want to rush myself, so when it came, I tried not to worry about the fact that my stuff wan’t yet packed away and that I still needed a couple of last minute items from the store. It all worked out though because after a second shower, and repacking all my gear, I wrote a “Hiker to Trail” sign and was getting ready to step out to the street to hitch a ride when a former CT thru hiker came into the hostel and asked if anyone wanted a ride to trail. The timing could not have been more perfect! Trail magic at it’s best!
I have to be honest in saying that it was hard getting back into the trail. Those first couple of miles were pretty rough (the pizza probably didn’t help). I missed the town, and I found myself wondering what I was doing out here. I had 134 miles behind me, and what... 350 miles still to go? It was kind of overwhelming. A part of me wanted to be done with the trail. It was the first time that I’ve felt that way since starting out eight days ago. Plus my pack was heavy from having 4.5 days of food in it, and my belly was full too. I was sluggish in my pace and my spirit was low. I was still enjoying it to an extent, but it didn’t have that vibrancy that I wish I could have in every step along the way. Plus, after reaching the top of Snowshoe Mesa, the trail just kind of stays flat and sort of boring for about five miles. There wasn’t much to it. It was the first time along the trail that I thought about putting headphones in my ears, but I stuck it out, and by the end of the day I was back in heaven.
About 7 miles into the afternoon I started feeling it again, and by the time the sunset, I had completely regained the spark that brought me out to the Colorado Trail in the first place. The evening light across the mountains was astonishingly beautiful, and I can say with absolute sincerity that there is nothing back in Lake City that I would have rather had than the sunset that I got to enjoy tonight. It was everything that I want from the trail.
In a way today mimicked those first couple of days out of Durango. It took a moment for me to get back into things and fall back in love with it, but after a bit of time, I found it again. It was easier this time though. I have a routine by this point, and the striding has become my driving force. I love it out here. I’m blessed to be here sleeping in the dirt tonight. And as an added bonus, I remembered to buy some herbal tea in Lake City so all throughout this writing I’ve been taking breaks to sip on tea with honey (bought way more honey on this leg too—ran out last stretch). It looks like although there are some ups and downs in the vertical profile in the days ahead, they shouldn’t be anywhere near as challenging as what I went through over the last week, so I figure if I do 25 miles per day I’ll be in my next trail town (Salida, CO) at the end of four full days (not counting today). If I pull big miles and drop three 30’s then I’ll be there early on the fourth day. Either way, I have plenty of supplies, the weather looks like it’ll be good, and I’m happy to be out here.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be back again tomorrow.