August 17, 2010
Today’s Miles: 9.9
Total Miles: 240.1
Breakfast Elevation: 10,280 ft
Dinner Elevation: 9,360 ft
High Point: 11,880 ft
It’s a dry, clear blue morning among the Harvard Lakes.
I meet a solo woman day-hiking in the other direction, but it’s an otherwise quiet morning on the trail.
The path is all downhill – smooth sailing for the last three miles to the end of segment 12, at North Cottonwood Creek Road.
the North Cottonwood Creek Road
I have a nice rest at the creek and fill my water.
It’s only mid-morning, and there’s six miles between me and the road I’m taking to town. These have been some psychologically long days from Leadville through the Collegiate Peaks, and town sounds great… but the next six miles include a 2,500 foot climb (And equal descent) up the east ridge of Mount Yale.
The initial climb is slow, steady, and even enjoyable.
The route levels out in an open, marshy area, where Mount Yale sits dramatically in front of me.
I meet a man day-hiking with his dog, armed with a field guide to wild mushrooms. He’s simply dabbling about the woods and engaged in this hobby.
The seemingly unfocused, non-linear use of the trail seems unnatural and out of place to me… everyone else I’ve met on the Colorado Trail has been “go go go,” from point A to point B.
I have a snack at Silver Creek, and meet a backpacker going north. He thru-hiked last year, and says that I can look forward to some incredible terrain toward the final section of the trail.
The summit of Mount Yale is a two-mile hike from the crest of the Colorado Trail on its east ridge, but I pass it up and keep moving forward. The weather is great, but the climb to reach this saddle has been a good effort in itself, and the idea of an additional 2,000 plus feet doesn’t sound too enticing. The lure of town is strong.
I descend to the Chaffee County Road 306 that leads to Buena Vista. The road is visible from afar, and
traffic appears to be really light… not good for the prospect of hitchhiking to town. My ailing right foot continues to cause pain, as the trail winds its way into the valley.
I choose an ideal spot along the road and hold out my thumb. More accurately, I wait until I see a car before holding up my arm. There’s very few vehicles, and I can hear them long before I see them.
It’s only mid-afternoon, but I’m there for more than a half-hour with no luck. I stand with the majority of weight on my left leg, keeping it off the right foot.
A red flashy sports car slows to a stop, going the opposite direction.
It’s a Ferrari.
The driver yells out to me, “Ya doin’ the trail!?”
“Yeah, the Colorado Trail!”
He steps out of the car. “Well, I’m not sure if I can fit your gear…” He opens the trunk.
The trunk is under the hood.
Holy shit. Is this guy really giving me a ride!?!
Sure is! I hand him my pack to place in the car himself, as I don’t want to risk causing any scratches.
I kick all the possible dirt off my shoes and lean forward to keep my stinky shirt off the fine Italian leather. Off we go.
“I’m just out for a drive anyway,” he says, commenting on having to turn around. “Today’s her (The car’s) fifth birthday… this is one of the best roads in the state for sports cars.” He shifts gears and opens up the engine, at least until we’re stuck behind a relatively “slow” vehicle.
The conversation is otherwise all typical. He’s interested in my trip and the fourteeners I’ve done – says it’s too bad I skipped Yale today because the east ridge is the best way to do it. He tells me about the mountains and sections he’s done… typical… except I’m in a Ferrari!
We’re at the post office in Buena Vista before I know it, and he’s more than happy to take a few pictures of me with the car, “Because nobody’s going to be believe this,” I say.
I pick up my maildrop in the Post Office – just a map or two. I’m grinning from ear to ear.
I walk around Buena Vista and check the place out. It’s a good, small trail town – manageable on foot. I get a 20 ounce Coke, Reese’s Big Cup, and some pretzels to hold me over. Then I pick out a motel, get a room, and immediately call a bunch of people to tell them I just rode in a Ferrari.
There’s a burger joint across the street, where customers stand outside, order the food through a window, and sit outside along the main drag. Oldies music plays from outdoor speakers.
Instead of giving me an order number as I wait (Like at a deli), the cashier assigns me a name. “You’ll be Vincent Vega,” she says. “Order up for Kevin Bacon! Kevin Bacon, your order is ready!”
The laid back summer atmosphere is just too much. As I walk along the sidewalk, a jeep full of young girls slows next to me, and they wave, and yell “Hi!” and giggle… and hit the gas.
I take care of my resupply at the supermarket, stuff my belly with as much food and beer as possible, and enjoy a relaxing evening in civilization.