Is it really almost three weeks I’ve been out here now?
I woke up before 6, before my 6:30 alarm, wishing I could have slept longer. I couldn’t, despite my immense grogginess. I figured coffee would help, but the breakfast room didn’t open until 6:30 and it was clearly going to be too much of a hassle to find a place to plug in the little single cup maker in my room. So I just looked at the internet until 6:45 and went back to the breakfast room…just in time for both carafes to run out of their first batch of the day. What luck. But there was juice, and I didn’t have to wait long for a fresh batch.
I had a banana and a yogurt, but I didn’t intend to subsist entirely on Continental breakfast. It was just enough to keep me going until I was ready to leave.
Which I didn’t do until after 10. I had a lot of blog work to do, and a tendency to get distracted while doing it. Anyway, I checked out in a ready-to-hike state and walked down to Chavolo’s Taqueria, the restaurant of many recommendations. They were still serving breakfast, and there were a lot of options. Basically any Mexican dish could have eggs added to it, or there were more traditional breakfast combinations. I went with the carne asada and eggs. It was quite filling.
I could have hurried to leave town at this point, but I had been advised to take it easy and not burn myself out. And the brewery next door would be opening its tasting room at noon. So I sat outside the restaurant for an extra hour after paying and then walked over there.
It was just a bar with the brewer herself pouring drafts and putting together light lunch snacks. And two vacationers came in right after me, full of noise. But we sampled together. I had a flight and the root beer. None of the brews were my favorite, but the honey-tinged root beer was very good.
A bit after 1 pm, I had her put together an Italian beef to go and walked out to the highway to get started. The first hitch took about 30 minutes. It was an old contractor named Jeff, and I waited for him to make a brief visit at the job site before he dropped me at the city limit sign on the east side of town where the highways diverged. A pretty good spot to hitch to the pass from.
The second hitch took another 30 minutes. This time it was a guy named Brendan in a small car with one cylinder not firing right. He was returning to Denver following a short fishing trip. He needed some hitchhiker karma, apparently, and that little car struggled mightily to get us over the pass. He left me at the top with a couple of beers.
Carrying the sandwich in a bag on my arm and my heavy pack full with water and resupply, I set out up the hill. It was a slow climb, but I was just getting started so I didn’t feel bad. A couple of hours in, I stopped to eat the sandwich. It was earlier than my usual supper but I hadn’t had lunch. It was the only shady area on a hillside overlooking the highway I had come up, and it did get a little chilly while I sat. I was disappointed the Italian beef wasn’t spicy at all, but I did enjoy eating all the starch out of the au jus.
The trail did become somewhat of a mess after that. It switched to the backside of the ridge with snow everywhere, and water and mud in the trail everywhere else. There weren’t too many blowdowns, but there were some. A lot of places the track was worn in deep and narrow so that I had to walk beside it rather than in it. It was generally slow going picking my path so that I didn’t fall. At one point, I slid in mud and did a full 360 to avoid falling over.
I went on like this until just before 9 before picking a spot in the grass that wasn’t quite as level as it looked to set up for the night. In the just under 6 hours of hiking I had gotten done, I hadn’t made it very far at all… I was still in view of the highway. But with the lack of sleep and the chest cough, I was worn out. Here’s hoping I get some good miles in in future days.
Trail miles: 5.6
Distance to Silverton: 78.6 miles