Straight from the Trail: Days 4-5
Notes from the Trail:
For this blog post, I am going to do something a little different: I am going to write down, word for word, my notes from the trail. No (or minimal) edits.
Every night, Mary and I would lie in our tent and type out on our phones what had happened. Most nights you could hear us giggling as we looked at each other’s recaps and remembered the good (and tough) moments from the day.
Recap from July 2nd, raw and unedited:
“After a rainy and wet night, we woke up at 5:40 a.m. to our beautiful meadow that was home for the night. The sun wasn’t really out yet, but creeping along the mountain to the west, and Mary and I packed up and got out by 6:40. We were the first ones out from the camp. We walked 5 miles along a dewy meadow that ran along a nice-sized stream. It was so green and along the way, we ran into Pinestick once and a few other hikers.
At about five miles we stopped to dry out our gear and make breakfast. I made two packs of oatmeal and hot chocolate and was surprised by how hungry I was. After breakfast I dug a hole and pooped and then we kept walking, over the forested “saddle” and through miles of some of the most beautiful aspen forests I’ve seen. It was so lush. At one point, while Mary and I were resting it began to rain and then it began to hail and lightning. We decided to keep walking through the forest and eventually it stopped.
We cross-crossed Zen a lot over the miles, and we crossed through meadows, streams and woods. For a while we thought we might try to book it to Kenosha Pass and try to get to town tonight, but it was beginning to look towards the end that it might not be worth it. Eventually around 4 pm as the storm clouds were rolling in we found a campsite at the top of a ridge, but pretty covered by trees. We set up camp in record time as a storm quickly rolled in, and Zen joined us but wasn’t quite as fast and his whole entire tent filled with water. As we hunkered down in the tent, I played ukulele as the second hailstorm of the day beat down on us.
The storm passed pretty quickly, so we went out and I made a dinner of Pad Thai and Instant Mashed Potatoes. We did some stretching and hanging out until 7 pm when we decided to retire to our tent. The evening ended up being lovely and sunny and watching the storms roll over the mountains was so beautiful. This is my favorite spot we’ve camped so far as it’s in a meadow on top of a ridge, but tucked safely into trees. Tomorrow we are going into town! We only have 3 miles tomorrow morning. 20 miles today.”
I slept horribly last night and woke up in an anxious and bad mood: the first time this has really happened. I got up and started packing up, and Mary and I left about 5 minutes after Zen. We had to hike 3 miles to get to Kenosha Pass which would be where we would hitchhike into town. On the way down I felt like crying: I was tired, hot, hungry, had no water, and had to poop (this is a trend on the trail.. sorry, but not sorry). The whole way down I had to work hard to keep myself out of a horrible mood but I realized along the way if I fixed my problems one by one, I’d probably start to feel a lot better. We passed a few day hikers and one of the groups had a daughter who was also hiking the Colorado Trail, and were a day ahead of us. After what felt like forever, we finally arrived at Kenosha Pass and I took off my long sleeve, I used the toilet!, and I ate and began to feel so much better.
The hikers we saw earlier were heading back to their car and we decided to ask them if they were heading to Fairplay: our first town. They weren’t headed that way but after a bit of chatting the mom – Sarah – gave us a ton of drinks and fresh food and then she decided to take us the opposite direction of where she was going out of the pure goodness of her heart. Her energy and trail magic made my day turn around!
Zen, Mary and I hopped into Sarah’s truck and as we drove the 15 miles into Fairplay, we had a great time chatting and getting to know Sarah. She dropped us off right outside of town and we walked to the Brown Burro Cafe where I ordered eggs, hash browns, and a biscuit and bacon. I ate it really fast and then went out and called my family. After that, I headed to JaMoose Cafe to use their WIFI for some more calls and Mary went to the store and got me some extra snacks. Around noon we decided to try to find a way back to the trail.
We went out to the highway as all hikers are expected to do and put our thumbs out, while making it very obvious that we were thru-hikers. I was extremely nervous. After about 20 minutes, we saw a big colorful van turn the corner and we knew we were in luck. The lady in this van pulled over and said, “I guess I can take you guys”. She ran a kombucha company (InJoy Kombucha- if you live around Denver I recommend!) and was driving around doing business, so she had a lot of supplies in the back. I didn’t care. I bought her pumpkin flavor. Two other hikers flagged us down and asked if they could join and she agreed to take them as well, so in the back it was me, two other hikers, and a dog. Mary sat up front with our ride – Manda – who was incredibly sweet, and a bit eccentric. At one point I just heard her begin to sing occapella out of nowhere. Later, Mary told her that Manda had asked if she could sing her a song.
We got dropped off at Kenosha Pass and started walking. We met a mother and daughter from Hawaii and took our first “shower” in a big creek, dunking all the way in and washing our hair. It felt so good. We walked up and up and up to the tree-line and had AMAZING views of green covered mountains with bits of snow left on them. There was supposed to be a campsite up at the top around mile 12 after the pass, but it felt far too exposed to be safe if a thunderstorm decided to come rolling in. Mary and I sat down and enjoyed the view and then walked maybe .5 more and found a cute little spot in some trees right below the exposed alpine tundra. We didn’t cook anything warm and instead just ate our snacks. We realized we could make it to Vail tomorrow and are planning on a long day and then sleeping in a real bed tomorrow!”
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