6.8 miles + (a lot more…)
(Bad day 😦 )
I got up around 6, ate some granola in bed, packed up, and hit the trail at 7:07. Soon after, I heard some noise in the forest. I looked over to see the guy who had passed by last evening! So he didn’t make it to Breckenridge on day 6 after all! He waved and I continued on. My competitive instincts (which have been greatly reduced by my yoga practice) suddenly kicked in! I wasn’t going to let him catch me! I wanted to be the winner! 🙂
The power line that I was looking for last night turned out to be a long way away! I was glad I stopped where I did. I felt like I was moving very slowly. The sun started burning down again, so I put on sunscreen. I decided to wear my bandana instead of my visor because I was only hiking 6.8 miles. The route went up and down, and at one fork, I was very confused as to which way to go. I followed my instincts, and luckily chose correctly!
Later on, I saw a grey, tattered bandana on the ground, and nearby, a dead squirrel! That was an eerie site!
At last, I started descending the switchbacks overlooking a resort town.
As I made my way to the bottom, I saw a family fishing in the lake, walked around the lake to cross a bridge, then a road, and then another bridge. I thought I only had a 0.4 mile walk to the trailhead. I was wrong. I still needed to cross Highway 9- a major, very busy highway! I made it across, but was confused about where to go next. I almost started up the wrong trail and then realized the CT continued on the pavement, crossing a bridge. The guidebook said the end of the segment and trailhead was 1/2 mile after Highway 9, and the bus stop was supposedly a couple hundred yards away. I came to a trailhead much sooner than 1/2 mile and was confused again. I asked some people who were about to start a hike if they knew what this trailhead was called. They weren’t very nice and didn’t know the name of the trailhead. They just mumbled something about Pike’s Peak. I told them I needed to get the Summit Stage bus into Breckenridge. They pointed me in the direction I had just come from, but I thought it was further ahead. So, I kept walking- and walking- and walking, looking for another trailhead. There was no second trailhead- only runners and bikers on a path!
The sun continued to beat down on me. I was walking much further than the 6.8 miles I was supposed to have. I was demoralized, hot, and drained of energy. I finally asked a girl who was running where the next bus stop was. She said it was a mile away- in front of the high school. A mile! My guidebook was wrong! I had no choice but to keep going. I stopped in at a design center to ask where the high school was. When they found out what I was doing, the woman put her hands in prayer and bowed to me (!). Both the man and woman were in awe that I was doing this alone. She wanted to mountain bike the trail in the near future. At a garden center, I asked for directions again. Finally, I found the high school and fortunately didn’t have to wait too long at the stop. But the bus driver was so mean to me (three times)! He was extremely rude when I asked him which stop I should get off. At least there was a nice older couple who seemed interested in what I was doing.
After arriving at Breckenridge Station I used the restroom (I was very dehydrated!) and then asked the gondola entrance man where N.French St. was. It was far away! Finally, I found the hostel. No one seemed to be there. I went in and ended up startling the lady. She asked if I had a reservation. Not having had to make reservations at most of the places on the AT, I didn’t expect to do it out here, either. But this was a different situation. All summer long, mountain bikers and tourists were occupying hostels, as well as hikers. Only because of a cancellation that day, was I allowed to stay in one of the bunk beds. She asked if I had a package sent there and I said I did. However, they didn’t have it! They asked if I had sent it by US mail, telling me their residence wasn’t allowed to have US mail delivered there because it was a historical site. The post office most likely sent my box back home! There was only a small chance that they held it. I walked all the way to the post office, waited in the long line, told them my situation, and was immediately told (without checking) that my box was sent home. The lady then pulled out a town map, showing me where the grocery store was so I could buy new supplies there. I was so upset! I was dirty, exhausted, and now I didn’t have any of my food, supplies (including contacts and sunscreen), and most importantly my guidebook pages for the next section! On each side of the box, I had written “Hold for Hiker, ETA 7/28” and they just sent it back? Tears welled up in my eyes. The lady behind the counter told me this would make me stronger. As if I hadn’t already been through enough to make me strong…!
I walked back to the hostel, texted my “friend” to let him know the bad news and e-mailed Erik. My “friend” actually asked if he could fetch the box and Fed-ex it to me. Really? He would do that? I didn’t know anyone else in my life who would be willing to do that for me! (and this from the person who had ripped into me a week ago? Confusing…) I called my landlord and left him a message, asking him if the package had arrived back home.
I finally took a shower and headed off in search of a meal. I ended up going to a small, popular pizza and pasta place. I felt a bit lonely (it always feels lonely to be eating in a restaurant alone, while traveling, and everyone else has companions). I ordered a green salad and a glass of water to start. The waiter asked me if I wanted bread. “Is it free? Then, yes.” I ended up eating almost the entire basket! I wanted a slice or two of pizza, but they didn’t sell slices, so I ordered a chicken parmesan sandwich. While I waited, I kept eying the leftovers on other people’s tables, but refrained from asking if I could have them…I checked my e-mail and my landlord’s son had written back, telling me that they had my package and that he could ship it overnight! I could relax!
A party of three came in and sat down at the table to the right of me. The guy next to me kept looking at my sandwich and finally commented on how big it was and that I was making good progress! I responded, “I just hiked 105 miles!” The woman’s eyes grew wide and she started asking me questions. It was nice to have people to talk to. She said that I was the most fascinating person she had ever met because of what I was doing. She told me about their trips to Alaska and said that I would love it there. They each had a glass of wine, and after going back and forth on whether I should have one, too, I finally decided to order one. After hearing about my ordeal with my package, they were glad that I got myself some wine, too. While we ate, there was a tremendous hailstorm! Within minutes, the cars all had snow on their windshields, and a gushing river was racing down the sides of the street! I was so thankful that I was inside eating at this time!
Another hiking couple had also come into eat and were attracting the attention of their table neighbors. Finally, I saw some people like me! They were hiking the Continental Divide Trail (but only for 6 weeks). And they had the strength and discipline to come into town, eat as much as they could, resupply, and get back on the trail in the same day! That is never something I like to do.
The woman next to me continued to ask me questions. Her husband was embarrassed and thought she was bothering me, but I loved it! They got up and said goodbye. A few minutes later, the waitress came by to tell me that they paid for my meal! Incredible! I felt like this helped with the extra resupplies I now had to pay for.
I headed for the grocery store at the opposite end of town and checked my e-mail along the way. David had written again to tell me that my resupply box had actually not yet been returned (the box they had was the things I had sent back from Fairplay). I decided to turn around and walk all the way back to the post office to see if they would check General Delivery. (The post office was in the other direction…) They checked and it was not there. So, it was in transit back to my apartment.
I again headed all the way to the opposite end of town. The grocery store was expensive! I paid $30 for some power bars, a few candy bars, a couple pieces of fruit, sunscreen, and a cheap contact lens holder. I still had to figure out how to get copies of the guidebook pages that I needed. As I headed back to the hostel, it started storming again! Rain, thunder, and lightning! The hostel didn’t have a copy of the Colorado Trail guidebook. The woman called the Alpine Store to see if they had it, but they had sold their last copy that afternoon! How was it that I was hiking the Colorado Trail and could not find a copy of the guidebook in Colorado? In a town that was 3 1/2 miles away from the trail?
The Olympic Opening Ceremonies were on that night and I wanted to watch them. I expected them to start at 8pm, but they were starting at 6:30! I quickly headed back into town to find some dinner. The organic place that the hostel owners recommended was only open for lunch, so I continued on. It started raining again and I was having trouble finding a place. They were either too fancy, or too dumpy. I was getting cold and wet. I stopped in at an outfitter to see if they had the guidebook. They did not and recommended I try the bookstore. I went to the bookstore and saw that they were closed from July 27-31 and about to go out of business. Great! I was now very cold. I poked my head inside a tavern and they said I could sit at the bar. I ordered coffee and a giant bacon cheeseburger. I needed food and warmth. Luckily, it was happy hour, so it only cost me $11.37!
I returned to the hostel and, all night long, made phone calls, wrote e-mails, and sent texts (which cost me money) to people back home to see if someone could find my guidebook and copy the pages I needed. All I wanted to do was relax and watch the Opening Ceremonies, but I was not able to see them at all. My guidebook was not in my desk drawer at work, so it must have been in my apartment. My landlord had to search my messy apartment for it (I told him it was probably in one of 2 places), and once he found it, had to drive to his workplace and scan the needed pages. He e-mailed them to me, but because the files were too large, I got nothing! All night long, I worked on this problem and didn’t get into my bunk until after 11pm. A traveling couple came into the room after midnight, making sounds throughout the night. The man was snoring, kept scratching himself, tossed and turned, and people would get up to go to the bathroom. Although my sleep was very broken and disturbed, I slept harder than I had all week in the moments that I did sleep.
Today was a very tough day!