Administrivia: at $1.92 per mile, you’ve pledged over $2,500 to date! Fuchs is still in the lead, but ALS and Cancer have strong showings.
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This is the 2 month anniversary of my start date!
Some have reached out about my last post asking if people were complaining about the blog, lack of updates, etc. Nothing of the sort is happening, I didn’t mean to imply that. I was trying to put some context around the sporadic nature and quality of what’s posted. Thanks to everyone for their support.
Day 1 – Leaving Fraser
Since I was waiting for mail, I puttered around the hotel, watching the news coverage of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. The effect of being 50 united states, I suppose. Hybrid vigor, and all that. When Benjamin Franklin was asked after a session of the Constitutional Convention, “What kind of a government have you given us?” he replied, “A democracy, if you can keep it.” People need to step up. Vote. Write letters. Do shit. You can change laws if you want, This Land Is Your Land. Don’t blame the Judiciary branch for failing to create a law that the Legislative branch never did.
By 11 I checked out, and picked up my package. And because my wife is awesome there was all kind of goodies therein. Did a 3 day resupply at Safeway, dropped off my $15 Leadville thrift store shirt at a different thrift store, and headed to the shoe store to pick up new Altras. The old ones were getting a little dangerous. And had a hole in them.
Hit the road hitching. Its another hard hitch, lots of rich tourists in clean, large cars. It started to rain. After about 20 minutes total, a beat up looking Subaru ( of course ) with 4 20-somethings in it stopped for me. All about the outdoors and were super excited to hear how my hike was going. I threw my pack in the hatchback with all of theirs and wedged myself into the back seat.
At the Pass and walking by 1:30. Big grindy climb with a constant threat of rain. On and off came my rain jacket. I stopped atop Mt. Flora, a 13er, and ate my apple – a trail luxury. Also a luxury was the summit to myself. I think the threat of rain had driven people away.
Ridge walking, dodging rain. Finally descended through a handful of trail-obscuring snowfields, into a Wilderness. Immediately the trail practically disappeared. As it should. Wilderness areas within national forests are deliberately unmanaged. For instance even the volunteer trail crews that maintain things are not allowed to use chainsaws, only hand saws. It’s so different than New England hiking where you’re always trying to avoid stepping on grass. Here it’s all grass.
Finished up about 9 miles in at a place called Rainbow Road, bootlegging next to said road alongside the broken glass, cigarette butts, and TP flowers. 42.5 miles to the border of Rocky Mountain NP, and a few easy miles after that to town. I’ll try this in 2 days. Tomorrow I’ll crest the last 13000 footer!
Day 2 – James Peak and beer
22.5 miles, 5500 up and 5600 down.
Up at 5, hiking by 6. James Peak by 9:15 after a climb. It was with mixed emotions that I knocked off the last time I’d be above 13,000 feet. Mostly happy emotions. Complaints aside, I am pretty lucky to be out here.
I walked the ridge, all alone, no trail, racing weather. It is a privilege to walk where no one has walked before. I mean, people have hiked the trail through here, but there is no “trail” to follow.
Which way you headed, Jeremiah?
North. Canada, maybe. I hear there’s land there a man has never seen.Jeremiah Johnson
While I was wandering around looking for a sheltered and flat spot, a group of campers called out to me asking if I was lost. After some pleasant banter about the possibility of paying them $5 for a good spot I set up my tent. I deliberately chose a spot near them so as to spark conversation . Because out of conversation comes offers of food and companionship by the fire ring. Whether out of guilt or generosity I don’t know, but one of them came over and offered me a beer. I still got it!
This maneuver, where are you draw day hikers and campers into conversation with the goal of getting food or drink it’s called “the Yogi”. It is crucial that you do not ask for anything, it MUST be offered. If you ask, you’re just a bum. One of the guys I hiked, the AT with in ’99 was legendary, he once Yogi-d us an entire picnic complete with cheese and wine.
Day 3 – the Rain
The day started off well! I saw a big bear, then made my way down towards Monarch Lake. I saw a mama and baby moose right in the trail, and then a hundred yards later I saw the bull. I cruised along the edge of the lake until the trailhead then did a big road walk. I saw a bald eagle over the river. Just yesterday as I was stumbling on rocks up on the ridge, I thought, “would it kill them to run the trail on sone decent two-track? And today, The Trail Provides. To quote Mummy, “it looks pretty cruisey”. ( Cruisey is the word for when there’s goid footbed and minimal elevation changes )
At lunch it started raining and did not stop until 5:30pm. It came served with a side of hail. Outside of being a little ( well, fairly ) cold, I thought I was fine because my backpack is waterproof and my quilt and clothes are wrapped in a plastic bag. HOWEVER the pack is apparently NOT waterproof. AND there must be a hole or holes in the plastic bag because my quilt is wet.
I got to the trailhead at 5:30 but camping there was not going to be an option, so I walked into town to get a hot meal. Both to stave off hypothermia and also to talk to people so I could consider my options for overnight. I ran into an obviously wealthy family out for a stroll. “Hey are you hiking the CDT?!” Over the next few minutes we discussed miles, weather and National Parks. I gradually wove the notions of dinner and wet clothes and camping into the conversation. There was a chance I could Yogi a bed and shower…ultimately I was unsuccessful. My powers don’t extend that far.
I ended up getting and eating a whole 12 inch pizza before walking my way out of town and stealth camping just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. I tried the hostel but the men’s room was full and the only other option was a large room at a greatly increased rate. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain anymore tonight. At least tomorrow I can get groceries and throw some of my things in a dryer while I drink coffee and consider my next moves.
Note that putting my wet things in a dryer for a few minutes was not my idea. I was fully prepared to drape them over something in the sun, like a heathen. My genius wife told me on the phone “just go to the laundromat and put your stuff in the dryer”. Duh. Things you don’t think of. Why you marry up, I suppose.
I’m sitting here in a coffee shop with my feet in plastic bags to keep them dry. The kids that work here love the “Fleetwood Mac” radio channel on Pandora. Next steps: more coffee, more donuts, grocery store for 4 days of food, repair my tent pole somehow, and hike out. I’ll be skipping the main loop through Rocky Mountain National Park because I don’t have a bear can or permit. I heard from a local the cutoff trail is beautiful. Next stop: Steamboat Springs, aka “Steamboat”. 156 miles of Colorado to go!