The floor of the shelter took a while to warm up and even once I had was not a very comfortable sleep. I tossed and turned all night with every angle hurting my back or my hips. That said, it did rain off and on throughout the night, and all of my stuff, including my tent stayed as dry as it was to begin with.
Which is to say that when I finally got up at 6am, only my shoes and socks were damp, as they had been when I took them off.
Unfortunately, the world outside was not bright and sunny. I was cold and fogbound. Hoping the fog would lift or blow away once the sun rose, I got back in my bag, nibbled some Nutella, then laid around for another hour. When nothing changed, I braced myself to weather a cold, foggy morning and started getting ready. I started hiking around 8.
I only stopped once when I was feeling hungry to get out my Nalgene and drink the rest of my breakfast shake. I was within a mile of Monarch Pass when I started feeling hungry again and had no need to stop.
Along the way I passed a dozen or more hikers, mountain bikers, and dirtbikers going south. The last was a chubby white guy with a green loosely woven wool sweater hiking barefoot up the hill. When I complained that I could barely see the views through the fog, he said he was really enjoying the unusually cool morning (as he was hot-natured) and seeing the trail he’d walked barefoot so many times in a different light.
Anyway, I was at Monarch Crest Station by 11 and went in to order a proper brunch of a chili dog with cheese and jalapeño, a cold Coke, and a bag of Takis. As soon as I was done, I walked out and across the parking lot to accost a man pulling hard-boiled eggs out of a cooler on the boat he was hauling about a ride down to the Butterfly House. I think his name was Andy? Anyway, the key to getting rides out of Monarch Pass is asking any dude who looks like he is driving home from a bachelor party fishing trip (because he is).
He dropped me across the street from the Butterfly House and I walked up the driveway. I briefly saw Shane outside, but he didn’t recognize me. Understandable–he gets a lot of visitors. But the shower and washing machine were ready and waiting for me.
Once my clothes were in the wash and I was showered and shirtless in a slightly too small loaner pair of swim trunks, I went out to socialize a bit with the only other person present, another CDTer called Rattler. He had just come back from a few zeroes in Denver, which was useful since that was where I was headed. He said he went via a bus that left Salida at 7:30 in the morning. My plan had been to spend the night at the Butterfly House, hitch to Salida in the morning, and then catch a bus to Denver in the afternoon. But the only bus to Denver was that one at 7:30, so I needed to change plans if I didn’t want to lose an entire day.
As such, as soon as my clothes were dry and packed up, I left Rattler with his friend Base (who had just arrived) and walked down to the highway to stick out my thumb for Salida.
It was another painless hitch. I couldn’t have been out there more than ten minutes before a truck pulled over. This time the driver was Taylus, a father building a house east of Salida. He was coming back from Montrose with the skeleton of a spiral staircase in his bed. We drove through a storm on the way into town that I could have been waiting in if I hadn’t gotten a quick ride, but we came out the other side of it by the time we reached Salida. He dropped me by the highway on the south end of town, and I walked a couple of miles to the main street under S mountain, watching the strangely designed houses get ever cleaner and better maintained as I got closer.
Simple Lodge and Hostel had a NO VACANCY light on, so I booked a bed at the Salida Inn and Hostel online and walked 11 blocks northwest. But it was 3pm when I arrived, the cleaners were still inside, and they didn’t do any check-ins until 4. There were a couple of other hikers there waiting, but their friends arrived in a minivan to pick them up for a few hours entertainment. I had no friends in town, so I stashed my pack, rain cover on, under the wheelchair ramp to the back door of the hostel. I knew it would surely rain later, but it wouldn’t get through the deck and the Packa to drench anything.
I walked back into town to go to Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub, which multiple people told me had the best pizza in town. While I sat at the bar with my entire medium pizza and a few different beers, another storm rolled in, and this one fully intended to stick around. The report had the rain continuing until 9pm. Since my raincoat was protecting my own pack and there were no umbrellas in lost and found, I would have to walk back to the hostel in it. Luckily, the jacket I did have was somewhat resistant to light rain and I did have my wide brimmed hat.
I got to the hostel with the growler of beer I had acquired as a potential present at about 5 and checked in to the bunk room. There were already half a dozen people there, and I had to grab some ear plugs eventually to focus on spite of their chatting. They left after a while. Later, I got on a call with a friend who caught me up on our seasonal shows. The bunk room window was wide open, so I tucked into bed against the cold.
We knocked off around 9 for quiet hours, and I got ready for bed proper. But the chatty women came back and had a loud conversation just on the other side of the wall. I had set an alarm to get up early, so I couldn’t use ear plugs. I just poked around the internet until a quarter to ten when they finally decided to knock it off and head to bed, except they kept whispering to each other even after they were in the bunk room.
Not that I slept very soundly even after everyone was in bed. I took another hour to fall asleep and woke up every hour or two ago night long. No idea why, probably something to do with not wanting to accidentally sleep through my alarm. That wouldn’t end up being a problem.
Anyway, several zero days follow, so you’ll be getting some cartoons instead of posts in the coming days. Don’t worry; you’ll like them.
Trail miles: 6.7