The Peaks of my Colorado Trail Trek
I’ve crossed over countless passes on this amazing adventure on the CT. But during the past few days, I reached what I considered the two peaks of this whole trip: visiting my paternal grandparents’ former home in Saguache, plus the little mining town, Creede, where we lived during two impressive years of my elementary school years.
But back to the beginning of this week. Thanks to a very kind shuttler, I was back on the trail by 7 AM after a delightful zero day in Salida. I almost immediately fell in step with two gentlemen in my age group, the brothers Sahara and Outlier, who made the miles fly by with stories of their amazing, worldwide treks.
I also enjoyed sharing stories of my amazing worldwide treks! I finally finished this Collegiate West section, which I had found very difficult and challenging, but also rewarding. Kind of like being a parent. Outlier and Sahara continued on a different trail as I continued on the Colorado trail, which fooled me at the beginning by being easier, but then became steeper and rockier. Isn’t that the way it usually goes?
This was a much drier area now as the trail is going further south, so I carried extra water, whose weight I did not appreciate. I camped alone in the woods that night, which I’m used to.
The next day, I set my alarm for 5 AM because it takes me a good hour and a half to get everything packed up and breakfast eaten before I can depart. I found out after being told by several hikers that there had been a thunderstorm that night. Huh. Apparently I slept through it. My tent was wet and I had placed it in a separate plastic bag to dry later.
At this point, motocross cycles were allowed on the trail. In fact, for the next few days that would be the case. These can really tear up the trail for the hikers, making deep ruts in the trail and disturbing rocks, making footing perilous.
Because of the lack of water sources, I ate mostly just my snacks during the day and waited some time before using precious water to rehydrate my late lunch. Long distance backpackers have to really watch the trail guide and the Far Out app for when they will be able to replenish their water supplies. During this day, I really enjoyed entering a wide open meadow called Sargent’s Mesa. The relaxed cows there seemed to enjoy it too.
I saw some of the same hikers I had seen on previous days but they’re all faster than I am. Just once I’d like to be able to pass someone. However, I don’t take many breaks, except for photos and pitstops, and I always arrive where I expect to be, usually at the time I had predicted. I was watching clouds all this day, because thunderstorms were predicted on my Garmin InReach Mini. To beat the oncoming rain, I practically raced for my first water stop for the day, Baldy Lake. I was 1 mile away when sprinkles began, but there was very little thunder in the far distance and no lightning and I was below the tree line, so I put on my rain gear and continued that last mile. The lake was down a very steep side trail, but I loaded up with lots of water because the next day was predicted to lack many water sources. As I carried 7 pounds of water back up the very steep trail, my right knee (the potential problem child), did feel a couple of twinges. That evening, I took my very first Advil of the whole trip, and at this point, my only one. I camped alone again, and two big storms hit overnight. Between the two storms, I got up and re-secured the stakes of my tent and added a few more. Happily, the inside of the tent was totally dry, but in the morning, I had a wet, dirty mess to put back in a separate plastic bag.
I was able to get out by 6:30 AM again. There were still lots of ruts and rocks in the trail. Thank you motocross.
I saw absolutely no one all day which I assume was because of the poor forecast that had been advertised. It was exciting for me to pass the 300 mile mark on this 486 mile journey, evidenced by rocks, a previous Hiker had left on the trail.
They were sprinkles, the last hour of my trek, which turned into a steady rain. I spent part of the time under trees, but then decided just to continue. Luckily, my pink raincoat really helped when I came to the highway that led to Saguache, my grandparents’ town. A woman in the rain looks pitiful and the first vehicle that passed me by turned around and came back and took me the 35 miles to town , which I appreciated so much. This was a very friendly family from Limon, a town towards the eastern border of Colorado and we had lots of good talk about camping and the region. I’ve been so fortunate with the rides.
The Big Valley hotel was very comfortable
Once my clothes and I were clean, I started my walk through the little town to reacquaint myself with childhood memories. We had visited so many times. I couldn’t keep myself from walking by my grandparents home immediately. When I saw the front door was open, I knocked.
The very welcoming woman, Lynn, who lives in the home now invited me in, gave me a tour and shared her pleasure in the house . What a joy it was for me to find the kitchen still basically set up the way it had been in the past. I remember Grandma making cinnamon rolls for me on those countertops. So gratifying!
The town of Saguache is very quiet and seems to be declining, but a number of artists have made it their home for years. It was fun to walk down the two little blocks of downtown
and observe the old hotel that is being renovated by a musician, who hopes to make it a real musical base.
On my zero day, I enjoyed sleeping in… Which meant only till 7 AM. I feel close to finishing the trail now with about 150 miles to go, but I’m still very happy on it. After sorting through my food box, I went for more walking in the town
and enjoyed talking to young couple on the street who has moved there to be near family and then visited the historical museum, where I once again saw Grandma’s signature on a signature quilt and Grandpa’s photo elsewhere.
I visited both the small local grocery and the nonprofit health food store and found a few goodies to supplement my dehydrated food. I went back to the museum for a talk on arrowheads, but found that it was just about setting up a database for found arrowheads, so I snuck out and back to the motel to enjoy my first nap of the whole hike. It had been a wonderful zero day in Saguache , and now I was eager to get on to Creede.
The next day it was back to the trail. I had had problems finding a shuttle driver in the region to get me out to the trail early, so I used a taxi service from a neighboring town. It cost me over $100 but it was worth it. I had to get to Saguache. I was hiking by 6:45 and carried 3 1/2 L of water, with dinner and lunch already rehydrated.
No water sources were expected for the entire 21 mile day ahead of me. I had not looked forward to this, but it turned out to be my favorite day so far. The weather was perfect with bright blue skies, and later fluffy white clouds. The forecast kept improving, and the route was easy, with few huge elevation changes. I walked through wide open spaces nearly the whole day, which I greatly enjoy
, and groves of my very favorite tree, the aspen.
There were a few spots of messy logging, the first that I had seen, but so be it.
I saw a few other hikers on the trail now and ended up camping with two other fellows by Cochetopa Creek, along with some very curious cattle.
It was nice to have the company, but it was colder camping by the water. I felt very fine after a very long day and was extremely grateful for that day.
This lovely day was followed by another pretty long one, 17 miles. I felt I was pushing myself all day, because there was a lot more elevation gain up and down all day. Happily, there were more people on the trail, too, and misery loves company. It was very hot in the afternoon, and at some point I started feeling dizzy and realized that I was probably getting dehydrated, because there wasn’t quite as much water available and quite frankly, I get tired of filtering the water. I took a nice long midday break to eat my lunch and dry out my tent from the dampness of camping by the creek.
I chugged a liter of water, and this proved to get me over the hump. I put my self in low gear and kept moving forward. I’d love to be able to pass others but I just keep on going. I wanted to get to the spot where I had planned on setting up camp in order to be available the next morning by 10:30 for a shuttle pick up to Creede, so on I went. I went over the final pass of the day by one of the 50-something fourteeners, San Louis peak , which was amazing. Later, I found out that the huge open area that I hiked around and in was a former volcano crater.
My camping spot had an amazing view that challenged the one weeks ago at Twin Lakes. I slept well.
Time to go to Creede! I only had 5 miles of hiking to get to the point where I would meet my shuttle driver, at the site of a former mine 7.5 miles up a narrow canyon from Creede. What a joy to be heading home! But before I left the camp, I had a delightful surprise as another hiker passed by, and in our speaking, he realized that it’s my blog that he avidly follows here at thetrek.co. It was quite gratifying to me that he got so much enjoyment from reading my descriptions of the Colorado Trail. Thank you, Ridgeline, for getting this special day off to such a happy start!
And the day certainly did not disappoint, as well today! My driver, Paula, who had connected with me through Facebook, had also brought along a neighbor, Betty, who was delightful to spend time with.
During the half hour drive down to Creede on the rough dirt road, she stopped occasionally so that I could take photos of the old mines in the region from the heyday of in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
We also stopped as we were entering the town so that I could peek into the historic fire house built into the hillside, with up-to-date and vintage fire trucks in each in their own solid stone stall. So cool! I definitely remember this from my childhood.
After drinks together at a local cafe and visiting with someone’s shop who remembered my father, they dropped me off at the Snowshoe Motel, which was lovely, with welcoming owners.
Not wanting to waste time getting cleaned up, I immediately started walking around the town, reminiscing about my third and fourth grade years in this town, when Dad was the superintendent of the one and only school.
I enjoyed walking by and looking at the exterior of the house that we lived in, known as the superintendent’s house, and then walking down the downtown, right at the entrance to a narrow canyon where old Creede during its mining heyday existed. Mines, bars and brothels have now been replaced by sweet galleries, shops, cafés, a repertory, theater, Etc.
There still are small miners’ cabins in town, many of which have been restored and improved upon.
There are also older and newer log cabins
The grocery store was larger than you would expect and provided me with some of my favorites: fresh blueberries, rice cakes, and sweet potatoes. It was also enjoyable having another Colorado Trail hiker in the room next to me and sharing stories.
In the desire to meet more people from town, I went to a Baptist church Bible study that night, which is totally unlike me. But they were very welcoming and the talk was interesting. But I do get tired of people being so concerned for my safety before they express how lovely the trail must be. It put a little fear into my heart when several people ask me how do you protect yourself? I always answer, “With sharp pointy hiking poles?” But I realize they’re only expressing their own fears.
After 11 blissful hours of solid sleep, I slowly woke up, enjoyed half an hour of yoga in my room and my breakfast before starting walking around the town again. I needed to soak this up. Not able to resist the draw, I stopped and knocked on the door of our former home, which had been the original school house in town. In the recent past it had been a public meeting space and I didn’t know who might answer the door. It turned out to be a lovely couple from Texas who own this as a second home and love hearing the history of the house.
This began a most delightful hour together, with all of us sharing what we knew about the house. It was fun sharing every detail I knew, such as it was my father that built the indoor staircase going to the second floor, eliminating the need for trudging up there on snow laden steps in the heart of a Colorado winter.
I’m so glad I stopped and met them. It was truly the peak of this entire trip. I look forward to digging through mom’s old photo albums, and sending them copies of any and all photos I can find of the town and the house.
After a salad at the historic Creede hotel, with my own rehydrated lunch on the side,
I am now happily sharing all of my adventures with you, after which I will have my dinner here at the motel, and then walk to the repertory theater where I will be watching the rendition of the comedy “Clue.”
I thank you so very much for continuing to follow me. With less than two weeks left on this marvelous adventure, I’m a bit nervous about the last mountain range I’ll be going through, the San Juan‘s. Over 40 miles of it is above tree line, but I’ll deal with it day by day as I have dealt with the past five weeks. See you in about a week!
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