20.7 miles hiked, camping @11129ft
Staying in a town that prides itself in being ‘wild west’ and catering to the RV / ATV and ride-in-on-the-train-buy-an-icecream-and-leave tourists, we aren’t that hopeful for a decent brekkie. We look at a couple of menus, find nothing and try one last little cafe on the edge of town. “How can I help you folks?” the server / owner asks as we peruse the menu. “We have vegan options too”. Um whaaat? “You said the magic word!” “You had a vibe about you, I could just tell”. Um…ok. Unsure exactly what that means, but we take our seats as he promises us delicious breakfast burritos.
He doesn’t disappoint and hot tea and a breakfast burrito are the perfect start to the day!
Afterwards we wander to the small market where I buy a bottle of green juice, a banana and a beer to pack out for Grizzly for a birthday surprise. Beer on the trail, especially beer packed out by someone else, is pure gold on the trail.
We get a ride to the trailhead with the manager of the hostel, with Grizzly and another hiker from China named Green Machine sitting in the tray of the pick up. It’s sunny today and I carefully lather the sunscreen as we start hiking. There are a lot of day hikers around, lots of mountain bikes. We hike fast to pass people and get away from the traffic jams, stopping for a speedy lunch before the flies get too overbearing and we zoom off.
We enter a fairy tale land of steep streams, white rocky staircases and an abundance of wildlfowers. The creeks cascade over perfectly misaligned rocks, reaching high above us as we hike. The flowers, bursting from the red earth around us, are shoulder high and home to the incessant buzzing of flies and bees around us. The roar of the waterfall across the canyon disappears as we head up over the top. An amazing vantage point at the top would be the perfect place to camp, except there is no flat or cleared ground here, so we hike on.
Deer prance across the meadow in front of us, amd we get to the other side disappearing once again into the branches of the forest.
A fabulous flat bougie campsite is just before the end of the section we are hiking so we excitedly set up and make dinner while avoiding the mozzies as best possible. Green Machine sets up here too and we chat a little as our mini stoves roar under our pots.
I bring out Grizzly’s beer and he acts half surprised, although he saw the conspicuous paper bag in my hand when we left the store this morning. Birthday beer!
A deer wanders past camp to wish us goodnight, and we fade away into a lovely windless, noiseless night.