CDT Day 82 CT Day 23

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.

CDT Day 81 CT Day 22 Silverton

I wake after a deep hard sleep. I try to ignore the call of nature for as long as possible but give in and awkwardly crawl out of the small tent door and into a sunrise alpenglow wonderland. Best 2016 trail sunrise prize! I stare for a loong time until the reds and golds fade away off the mountain and the clear daylight takes over.
I pack and head off down the other side of the mountain. Gah so beautiful again today!
We come across a gorgeous meadow with something strange on the other side.
“What do you think that is? A person?” It’s standing very still. We continue hiking and get closer. “Is it just a rock?” Closer…it moves a little. “Is that a horse??” It’s a horse. In the middle of a meadow. In the middle of nowhere. We are very confused by this very still horse with no explanation, until we hike even further and see a big tent setup on the meadow’s edge. Ah!
We hike down down down through this magic part of the trail until finally we are in the little town of Silverton.
There are so many RVs, so many ATVs, so many people eating icecream and stopping in the middle of the footpath with 5 family members to chat about nothing while obliviously blocking the rest of the world from moving through.
We wait in the lobby of the hostel for the manager to arrive so we can check in, staring at our tiny screens and trying to get things to load so we can see what is happening in the world. She arrives, I hand over too much money for our little space for the night, we throw our packs in, search unsuccessfully for our boxes of food and head down the road to the post office to find them. The postal worker rolls her eyes and sighs. “She’s not supposed to do that. If she tells hikers you can post to her hostel, she should pick up the boxes”. We agree, especially as by lucky chance, we arrived at the post office just 10 minutes before they close.
Boxes of food and a shiny package from REI containing new shoes clutched in our dirty paws, we head back to the room, throw them inside with our packs, and head off in search of disatisfying food. One mediocre cheeseless pizza and half a beer later, I stumble back down the road as it becomes clear very quickly that I cannot hold any quantity of alcohol. Half a beer + altitude + hungry Snakebite = fast drunk. Embarrasing. Half! I have no words. Or actually I have many as I trot down the road in a beer-d haze.
Back at the room it’s time to de-stink with a shower, and we give our things to the hostel people to wash in their laundry. Then – nap time. Glorious nap time! Best nap of the trail – who knew the secret was just half a beer?
I wake sober and hungry and we go in search of some decent food. It’s Grizzly’s birthday tomorrow so hopefully something yum will appear! We have amazing luck with a restaurant on a side street away from the overly themed Western saloon rubbish. Delicious fresh veggie tacos, roasted beets, hand cut fries, amazing kale salad. This time I stick to lemonade, of which I drink about 3! Yuuuuum dinner!
With happy bellys we head back to the hostel on the now deserted street – most of the tourists come in on a steam train from Durango and the town clears out after the last train leaves. It’s like being in a theme park after it’s closed.
I curl up under the sheets (sheets!), pop my earplugs in and I’m off to the land of nod once again. Goodnight world!