Oh beautiful coffee! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
For the first time on this trail I make hot coffee and it is divine. Actually it’s probably one of the worlds crappest coffees, but when it’s cold, you are tired and camping, hot coffee is an absolute gift from heaven. It gets tastier the colder it is, the more miles you’ve hiked and the longer the distance you have beween towns. You really don’t know the joy of a thing until you haven’t had it for a long time.
Powered by coffee I bounce up the small climb out of camp, along the flatish bit at the top then down down down throught the pines, rock hopping across the streams, bushwhacking around the mud to the trailhead at the bottom.
Why we are so particularly hungry in this section I’m not sure, but we sit and eat and eat and eat, some deep insatiable hunger rising up from the depths of our depths. We ensure future us will be mad at present us because we have eaten today into deficit and we are certain to run out of food. Crap.
We hike along the side of a valley until we reach a large creek. There is a whole bunch of people with camp set up here who are swimming / washing in the creek, and a group of day hikers with giant gorgeous Bernese Mountain Dogs. One is particularly boisterous and bounds along with me to collect water to filter. I get so happy when I see dogs on the trail – dog cuddles are good for the soul.
We have a climb now, a rather steep one. Across the creek the trees start getting taller and taller. Grand old pines tower over the trail, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a while. The branches are covered in pale lichen, the trail is soft with all the pine needles and all the sounds are muffled. We have to be quiet in the old pines home 😀
The trees thin out again as we get higher and higher. It’s a gorgeous meadow, lush green with wildflowers as always, and it is surrounded by ridgelines. For the past hour clouds have been gathering and gathering, looking darker and darker. I find Grizzly and Yogi sitting on the trail, getting rain gear on and looking up anxiously. We hike fast. The rest of the trail is very exposed so we need to outrun whatver these clouds are planning on unleashing. Up up up then one last short but mean climb gets us to the top and we can see the highway and cottonwood pass below.
Zig zagging down to the little road pull off, I’m amazed at the number of cars…and secretly hoping for some trail magic. I understand quickly why so many cars. We are right in the Continental divide here and both sides of the pass have a beautiful view. Cars pull over, clean smelling people jump out, they take selfies, get back into the safety of the car, drive away.
The clouds are looking epic on the otherside. The wind is crazy up here and we sit on the ground using a giant suv as a windbreak, eat more food and try and see what this weather is going to do. We have 14 miles of exposed ridge walking coming up. 14 miles in this storm if it errupts.
Yogi had gone ahead and decided to chance it, then came running back 5 minutes later with reports of the end of the world happening. There is a small town 19 miles from the pass. There is food in this town…and no exposed potential human lightning rod hiking…thumbs out, we’ll be in beds again tonight!
The three of us get an awesome hitch with a just retired pro mountain bike racer. She doesn’t have her kids for a couple of days so she’s packed her van and is off on adventures. It’s very squishy inside, so I’m lying on her bed in the back. One minute I’m outrunning storms, the next I’m lying on my back staring at pink pom poms that adorn the ceiling, listening to Patsy Cline as we weave down down the windy road to Buena Vista.
Once in town we call and call hotels – everyone is booked. Finally we look down the road and see a hotel sign. We call and are lucky they had a cancellation! Then Yogi gets a message from a friend who is hiking the eastern loop (we are on the west) so we have a 4 person hiker room! Yay!
I find what sounds like an amazing restaurant on my Happy Cow app ( a brilliant app that tells you if there are any vegan or veggie food options nearby). We wander down, stinking our hiker stenches, and order some bowls that are made by angels. Beautiful fresh kale salads, veggies patties, avocado, roasted chillis, rice. Amazing fresh healthy food – just what my stomach ordered. Yum yum yum yum yum.
Then buying of more trail food from the store, showers, laundry, all the town things. Now it’s dinner time…so we wander back to the awesome restaurant for round 2!!! Nom nom nom. One minute running out of food on the side of the trail, next eating dinners I wouldn’t have even dreamed.
Ah I will sleep a good sleep tonight with a happy happy belly. A fan blows the warm air around the room, not doing much for the heat but blocking out town noises perfectly. Goodnight gorgeous little town! Goodnight room full of trail friends!