Date- August 30, 2019
Location- Steamboat Springs
Elevation- 6,745 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 15.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,377.8 miles
Weather/Temp- windy, cloudy, rainy, 60s, 70s
Injuries- Sore feet
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- mule deer, ptarmigan
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 6
I was well awake (but procrastinating) this morning, until I felt a few raindrops hit my head. When that happened, I scrambled to put my things away.
After a mile of flat hiking, I was digging into a steep climb up to nearly 12,000 feet. It was at the top of that climb when I began to get a migraine that didn’t go away. I used to be really sensitive to high elevation a few years ago, but it never bothers me anymore… unless I’m dehydrated. If I’m dehydrated, then high elevations play havoc on my brain. I didn’t drink enough yesterday, although I tried. And I didn’t drink enough today, and wouldn’t be able to – try as I might.
It didn’t rain again after that light sprinkle, but remained very chilly and windy all morning. A good chunk of the trail for the first 7 miles or so was greatly exposed – affording gorgeous views of the valleys below, as well as the distant mountain ranges.
Despite the beauty surrounding me, I was having a really hard day. My head was hurting, my feet were hurting, I was ravenously hungry, my legs were heavy, and I was tired. My mind, body, and spirit were not with the program today.
Despite the relative ease of the terrain, I had to keep stopping to rest, eat, or drink. I didn’t feel miserable or helpless – just extremely uncomfortable and unmotivated (moving along at less than 3mph).
I would make the 23 miles Jetpack wanted to reach before setting up for an early day into town tomorrow; but I was going to use every bit of daylight to get there. At about 11 miles into the day, I came across 4 middle aged day hikers – two men and two women. I don’t know why, but after talking to them for a couple minutes, they offered me a ride into town. Their vehicle was parked at a place on trail called Buffalo Pass (about 4 miles ahead of me). They were getting ready to head back in about half an hour. I told them I appreciated the offer and might be waiting there for them when they got back. Then we parted ways.
Initially, in my head, I had already declined their offer. I needed to hike the full day. But, the more I thought about it… the more I thought the universe was talking to me. A free ride had presented itself to me at a time when I undoubtedly needed one. I started to assess things further: I wasn’t feeling well, my feet hurt, I was having a rough day, and my new shoes were sitting at the post office in Steamboat; this was the post office that would close at noon tomorrow and not reopen until Tuesday (due to Labor Day). Without the ride, I was basically gambling on getting into town tomorrow before noon to get my shoes. If I didn’t make that deadline, I’d have to wait three more days – with added expenses and loss of trail time. So now I could continue to gamble OR take advantage of this “sure thing” opportunity that presented itself. Choosing the latter would allow me to get my shoes possibly today, but definitely tomorrow. The Universe hath spoken! I decided to accept the ride.
A few years back a person once told me, “You should let nice people do nice things.” I’ve always been inclined to decline most offers of kindness. I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt awkward accepting help or free things from strangers, unless I was in absolute dire need. Who knows, I guess it’s because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone – even when they’re offering. I don’t know. I’m trying to get better at accepting the kindness of others, knowing it does help increase the positive polarity on their end (which is far from a bad thing). If anything, it benefits everyone when you let nice people do nice things. I need to remember and practice that more often.
When I got to Buffalo Pass, there were a lot of other people around. There were hikers, hunters, bikers, fisherman, horseback riders, you name it. While waiting for those day hikers to arrive, I talked to several other day hikers and hunters. Low and behold, this middle aged couple named Greg and Kim asked me if I wanted a ride down to Steamboat. Well, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so I accepted.
Greg and Kim were from Denver, and came up to Steamboat about 4 times per year. They drove me 13 miles (down very rough dirt road) into Steamboat. I was dropped off at the post office thirty minutes before it closed. Salvation… thy name is new shoes! I was once again walking on a cloud – the pain in my feet all but vanished. It was unreal how much those other shoes had been hurting me.
Room to Share
While at the post office, I ran into another male hiker named “Twigsy.” He was a 44 year old from Maryland; this was his Triple Crown hike. I remembered he was hiking with Smiles and Toast, so I knew they would be in town as well. I told him I would probably be getting a room (despite the ridiculous holiday weekend prices), and would get in touch with Smiles to see if they wanted to go in on it. He said everything had been too expensive, even to split, and was planning to get back to the trail.
In the end, I ended up getting a room at the Rabbit Ears Motel for an excruciating $200 per night. It stings to pay that much. So I texted Smiles and told her that I had a really nice – really big room, with two queen beds. I let her know that if she and the other two hikers needed a place to stay, they could come in on it for only 20 bucks apiece. That was the rate of a hostel, so they jumped on it. Everyone was happy! They had a place to stay and shower (for a reasonable cost), and I got to take a little bit of the sting off the crazy price I paid.
Happy Little Thru-Hiker Family
To be fair, the three of them offered to pay more, but I declined. I told them $20 and I was sticking with it. As an extra gesture of kindness, Smiles offered to give me a therapeutic foot massage. She is a professional masseuse in “real life” and knew how bad I’d been hurting after the Basin. I’d gone slow enough and taken enough days off that she passed me while I was in Rawlins. I accepted, telling her she really didn’t have to… but also really wanting it all the same. In the end, she spent almost an hour and a half working on my feet. I’m being 110% honest when I say it was the greatest foot massage of my life! It was very painful at times, but a therapeutic pain.
So here we are – a happy little thru-hiker family (if just for an evening) in Steamboat. They’re going back to trail in the morning. I’m going to await the arrival of Jetpack, while I take care of chores. I will most likely take tomorrow off.
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com