Location- Side of road
Distance Traveled Today- 45 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,345.1 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 70s, 60s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- raccoon
Days without shower- 3
Days without laundry- 7
We all woke up to our shelters being covered in ice. My tarp in particular was nearly frozen solid and felt like it was going to break when I folded it up. It was probably 5 times heavier than it usually is.
Due to fire, the main CDT was still closed, forcing us to road walk (yet again!) another alternate. Unlike recent road walks, I actually really enjoyed this one. The alternate detour is 52 miles long, and would take us straight into Steamboat Springs, our first Colorado town.
We crossed into Colorado within the first hour of hiking this morning, and just like that we had 3 states down and two to go. It also signified the unofficial halfway point of the CDT. It felt good, but I’ll be honest, it was nowhere near as climactic as it was crossing into new states on the other two trails. Couldn’t tell you why.
As far as the road walk went, it was mundane like most road walks. Not a ton of views, no real wildlife (besides roadkill), and the not so uncommon vehicle speeding by and dusting you out. The first nearly 20 miles were all gravel and full of Aspens. The Aspens are my favorite tree of this trail by far, and now I’m finally getting to see their autumn colors; yellow, orange, red, and every shade between. They lined the road in their patchwork collage for most of the day, providing shade as well as wind protection.
When the gravel met asphalt, we turned onto state route 129, we still had 34 miles to get into Steamboat. At the 26 mile mark of the day, a little after 6 pm, we hit the small community of Hahns Peak. Here we found a pub where we gorged on pizza and wings until almost 8pm.
I got a little bit of a wild hair after the carb overdose and proposed we hike as much of the remaining 26 miles into Steamboat tonight. The weather was slated to deteriorate late tomorrow morning, so if we could get most of the miles done tonight while the weather was good, then tomorrow morning would be gravy. Puma and Red Bass were on board, but Funny Bone wanted to sleep and Stomper’s foot problems were too painful to add onto an already full day.
I can’t get over the generosity of the people in Colorado. Talk about an amazing first impression. Throughout the night, we had no less than ten people pull over to offer us rides, talk to us, or give us encouragement. It felt like the entire state was in our corner, pulling for us.
At around 11 pm we strolled into another small community named Clark. As we passed the only lodge named Glen Eden, we noticed the bar was still open through one of the windows. Might as well take advantage and warm our blood up a bit! But guess what!? After chatting with the owner for 5 minutes, he insisted our beer was free and that we needed more free alcohol in the form of some Jameson Whiskey shots. Colorado! You’re out doing yourself on the first day!
After half an hour we were back on the road, fading into the inky blackness with the milky way shining through a moon-less sky above. Elk bugled in the mountains around us all night long, providing an eerily surreal backdrop of sound.
We entertained ourselves by telling scary stories, which helped the extra slowed down time of after dark road miles catch back up to reality. At 2 am we were 7 miles out from Steamboat and had reached what appeared to be an empty lot on the side of the road. Deeming our night hike a major success, we bedded down for the rest of the evening. It won’t take much more than two hours to trek into town tomorrow; a leisurely day.
I’m digging Colorado a lot so far. At a glance I can see there will be a lot of Aspens, the people are overly friendly, and the Subaru outback/forrester are the unofficial state vehicles. Toyota 4runner taking a close second.
We put a pretty good dent in Colorado for our first day; 45 miles. I think it might behoove us if we did something like this every time we get a stretch of good weather. It’ll help offset the smaller bad weather days, as well as the bad weather zero days which are sure to come…