I packed up and got out of the campground by 7am. The road the trail followed turned onto the old highway, a paved road slowly being eaten by trees, at Rabbit Ears Trailhead. Just down the road I could see the rock formation in question. I was told by a race volunteer the day before that the rocks were crumbling away rapidly and will not be much to look at in only a few years. You can see a picture of their current state below.
Moments after rugs picture was taken, a small black bear darted across the road, stopped briefly in the middle to glance at me, then ran off into the woods on the other side. That was my first bear sighted while hiking, and it happened way too fast to get a picture.
I passed a group of bow hunters just beyond the end of the pavement. One asked if I’d already caught them (the elk) and tied them up for them. A dirt road continued down from there to a random place on the new highway.
I walked south on this road for maybe half a mile with my thumb out trying to get to a sunny spot where I wouldn’t be freezing. Only a few minutes after I got there, a CUV pulled off ahead of me and a young woman jumped out to start repacking her things.
Ryn was headed from Denver to Salt Lake City taking CO 40 the whole way, the scenic route because she wasn’t in a hurry. The car was absolutely brimming with stuff. A lot of camping gear. Mattress and bedding. There was barely enough room for my pack atop it all.
She got me to town before 9 and dropped me at The Shack Cafe, where there was plenty of room at the bar. I got myself a traditional Eggs Benedict with hash browns and two slices of French toast on the side. I added entire pats of butter to each triangle of French toast just for the extra fat.
I spent a few minutes after breakfast looking around for a place to stay, but everything in town–hotels, campgrounds, BnBs, AirBnBs–that could be booked at a reasonable rate was full up. Typical Saturday night in Steamboat? Or something to do with the race? Anyway, eventually I got in touch with an angel family living outside of town and arranged a stay in their camper trailer, with a ride out to their house after 3:15 when Joe got off work.
Next stop was a walk to the post office to pick up my package before it closed. No problem. Next door was the Old Town Hot Springs. I paid $25 for a day pass and $5 to rent a towel. Then I stayed there until noon. I couldn’t fit my pack in a locker, so I put all my valuables inside one and left my pack on a counter. I spent most of an hour in the shower–there wasn’t much pressure but it’s not often I get to take a hot shower that isn’t on a timer these days–and then most of another hour sitting in the hot spring-fed pools outside.
When I returned to the locker room, I was disturbed to find the locker I distinctly remember leaving closed and locked standing wide open. It must have been staff with a key. I can’t prove that I had locked it, so I didn’t complain, and anyway, nothing was missing or moved. On the whole, my first onsen visit episode this season was a success, and I hope it won’t be the last.
I caught the free bus down to the Safeway next to do my resupply. $118 for a week’s worth of food, including that night’s dinner and the next morning’s breakfast. It took less than an hour to do the shopping, but as much time again to pack it all up in a way I could carry. I ended up with a small pack on my chest and a bag of potato chips in my hand as I walked away. The bus was just leaving as I left, so I figured I would need to walk back into town. Another bus wouldn’t be around for 20 more minutes, and I was short on time. After checking the bus schedule, I learned that the next bus was only 4 minutes away and the previous bus had just been running late. The next bus was a little late too, arriving 9 minutes later, but it still got me into town faster than I could’ve on foot.
My next stop was BAP, Inc., the Big Agnes Factory Outlet. I couldn’t get my tent repaired, as previously mentioned, but I could get a new stuff sack for it and some other necessities. It only took a few minutes.
Then I went to Mountain Tap Brewery to try a few local brews while waiting for Jeff to come through and give me a ride back. I also bought a beer for the Buddy Board. For the next six months, anyone who arrives at the brewery with a 30+ pound backpack can claim that beer.
Jeff picked me up just before 4 and took me out of town to the Ross homestead, a place of many vehicles, dogs, chickens, friends, family, and a great camper trailer. I got a load of laundry done and also got a chicken taco for dinner! And gave an improptu geography lesson to Indie, their youngest. I also talked with Joe about his hard day at work in the city busses and how the two fanciest busses had computer issues that had to be coordinated with the proprietary software vendors in California leading to some busses being late… mystery solved.
Then I retired to the trailer for the night to eat hot pockets, drink root beer, and watch YouTube until I passed out. It rained several times throughout the night but I was high and dry. I ended up taking the worst mattress with the depression under my butt because it was closest to a power outlet. Priorities. Anyway, big props to the Ross family for the magic.
Trail miles: 2.5