Friday, August 24, 2018 — CW Miles 253.0–261.7 (8.7 miles for the day)
When I wake this morning, the first thing I think about is the fact that there’s a town in our future today. Showers! And laundry! And real food! And indoors! I have deeply missed all of these front country essentials. The last week has been stretching, inspiring, and enjoyable, but also hard. I have never been so dirty in my life, and I find that it’s affecting me pretty deeply.
Isaac and I quickly pack up our things, anxious to get the day’s miles done with. Liam is already ready and he takes off up the mountain with us just behind him, and Dave just behind us. Mel is still sleeping, but she’s the fastest hiker in the group and can easily catch us.
We have two heart pounding miles to climb up to the Continental Divide.
And then 6ish glorious miles along the ridge that will fall into Monarch Pass. We’re so motivated to get to town that we do the climb in record time, and then ridge walk at an even faster pace.
Before we know it we can see the Monarch Pass store.
We start to devise our hitchhiking strategy, in which we need a stranger to willingly drive us 22 miles to Salida. But as we’re finishing the trail out, we run into a hiker going the opposite direction. He tells us that his wife just dropped him off and she’d be glad to drive us to Salida. So we hustle down the last stretch of trail, and sure enough Lauren willingly gives us, Liam, and Dave a lift. (At the last minute Mel opts to head the opposite direction to Gunnison to see friends.)
The 22 miles fly by and we’re soon in town. We all eat pizza together, our ravenous appetites overcoming any decent sense of self-control.
And then we check into the inn, where I take a shower, then a nap, and then a bath. You just can’t be too clean.
Later in the evening we go out for our second big meal of the day, and run into a different group of hikers. Including Matt—great to see him after all his help with my mom’s ordeal. He fixes Isaac some tea and we catch up on the last week of hiking.
Isaac says: I finally feel my trail legs underneath me today. It’ll be good to rest my feet and fill my belly with pizza and beer. I think we’re gonna make it to Durango just fine!