August 18, 2010
Today’s Miles: 15
Total Miles: 255.1
Breakfast Elevation: 9,360 ft
Dinner Elevation: 8,550 ft
High Point: 9,880 ft
I have an excellent breakfast in Buena Vista… 3 pancakes with blueberry syrup, homefries, eggs, ham, and toast… and a lot of coffee, of course.
I walk the road out of town that leads to the trail, and pass the public library. It’s open and looks nice and inviting, so on a whim I decide to go inside to use their internet.
I’m sitting at the computer, and who’s there sitting across from me but Ole! I first met Ole and Meadow Bruiser on Day 4 of this hike, and last saw them eleven days and 150 miles ago in Frisco.
We catch up in whispered conversation – it’s a library, after all. Meadow Bruiser is sitting in a corner in one of those cushy chairs, and I go have a long whispered conversation with her as well. My full belly of breakfast and coffee has me very animated, and it’s great to talk with fellow thru-hikers. Come to think of it, these are the only people I’ve known since the beginning of the hike that are in it for the long haul like me… essentially my oldest friends for the past three weeks.
They’ve been having problems with injuries, and are resting in town today. They came into Buena Vista via an earlier entry point at the Cottonwood Creek Road – CR 365. Having no luck hitchhiking, they were forced to walk the 6.5 miles to town.
I was quick to tell the story of how I rode in a Ferrari. 🙂
It’s a beautiful day, and I’m re-energized and excited to get back on the trail. I picked up some Ibuprofen last night, and hope it will ease the pain in my foot. My pack is relatively light, with less than three days of food to get to my next resupply in Salida.
Salida is located at an approximate halfway point of the Colorado Trail, and has been a psychological landmark for me. It feels good now to look forward to it as the next immediate resupply point and resting place.
I walk a considerable distance to the outskirts of town before even beginning to attempt to catch a ride. I end up walking the road for about an hour until someone finally stops, a laid-back guy in a Jeep Cherokee.
He knows the local trails, and more or less insists on leaving me at an unfamiliar side trail that’s supposed to provide a shortcut. The shortcut confuses me, and I end up having to have to road-walk the extra mile or two to reach the proper CT trailhead anyway.
It’s early afternoon by the time my feet hit the actual trail, and I immediately fall into a peaceful rhythm. I pass a few people at a distance near a creek, but there’s no other hikers.
The path mostly contours along the east side of the mountains, leading south. T
The woods of pine and aspen are occasionally interspersed with beautiful meadows.
I join a dirt road in the late afternoon, and the data book informs me that the Colorado Trail follows roads for the next five and a half miles. The footing is loose and gravelly, making for poor walking as the road descends a steep series of switchbacks.
Two separate high clearance, four wheel drive vehicles pass, full of young hikers. I assume they’re returning from a trailhead to the nearby Mount Princeton, a fourteener.
The road negotiates a narrow, steep slope, and it’s not especially pleasant to have to get out of the way of the jeep and truck. My foot hurts on the descent.
The roads lead to open, civilized areas surrounded by fenced private land. It’s late in the evening, and I’m growing increasingly concerned about finding a suitable incognito campsite before dark.
The rough, rutted dirt road progresses to this paved lane, and I even find myself walking on a blacktop road with a double yellow line.
Cars pass at least once every five minutes in the gathering darkness, but I finally locate a suitable campsite. It’s about seventy yards off the road, behind a line of trees… concealed well enough.
It feels as though I haven’t spent a night at this low of an elevation (8,500ft) since the beginning of the trip. It’s empowering to create a home and bed for the night so close to a road, yet out of sight. I enjoy dinner in the dark, and stare off at the emerging stars in the wide open view to the east.