Last night, I lied down to sleep, exhausted from a long, wet day. I heard the edges of my Tyvek groundcloth rustling near my head and assumed that the wind must have been particularly strong. It was a cold night and I slept on and off. I woke up at 1:20, and my Tyvek was still rustling. At 4am, I sensed an animal near the edge of my tent. I told it to go away, but it remained, so I batted the sides of my tent. It kept coming back! I shined my headlight and batted the tent again. Then, I felt something on my upper arm! My brain immediately perceived that if the animal was outside my tent, there was no way I could feel it on my arm! The animal must be INSIDE my tent!! I jumped up and turned around. I saw a creature bounce up against the head of my tent!! What was that? A frog?! A mouse?! I let out a shriek and shined my light in that direction. A mouse was frantically trying to climb up the netting! A mouse had been rustling beside my head all night long! I unzipped the tent as fast as I could and raced outside (realizing, thanks to my yoga, that the poor mouse was just as frightened as I was and wanted to be released as much as I wanted it gone!) I peed and then looked up at the sky. I noticed a brilliant field of stars for the first time on my hike! But I had more pressing matters to attend to than looking at the stars! I had to get the mouse out of my tent! I pulled back the Tyvek and saw nothing. I contemplated staying outside my tent until the sun came up, but it was much, much too cold for that. I decided to go back in the tent and turn my sleeping bag around so that the mouse wouldn’t be near my head. It was REALLY cold. I rested my head on my backpack so it would be lifted from the ground and tried to rest. Then I heard a rustle! My body jumped. It’s still in here! Several times this happened… My body was exhausted and desperately needed sleep, but it was being pumped full of adrenaline. I wished daylight would come soon! The wind was now really kicking in. Finally, at 6, light appeared! I got up, ate a quick snack, and got my stuff together. Then, I heard a noise on the train tracks. It was 6:35. It seemed extremely early for a tourist train to be coming through! I saw a headlight and then a tiny, single car came along. It was followed by another, and then another. A whole parade of them! Some waved to me. I broke down my tent and packed up, heading past the other camper who was standing outside his tent. I said hi, but he said nothing back! How strange! (This was the person that the group of guys had mentioned to me. He seemed to present a weird vibe to them, as well).
I was bundled up in all of my layers- hat, fleece hood, and gloves.
I crossed the Animus River and came to a lovely creek, but my hands were too cold to fill up my water, and I didn’t want to carry the extra weight up the 5 mile climb ahead of me. I got warm quickly as I ascended, and had to stop and strip off layers a couple of times.
A couple of miles into the hike, I ran into a husband and wife team who were running the trails. The woman wanted to chat with me. She said that what I was doing was a very honorable thing! She asked me if I had had any incidents and I told her about the one I had last night. “At least it wasn’t a bear,” she said. (If it were a bear, it certainly wouldn’t have been INSIDE my tent!)
I continued to climb, feeling like I was going kind of slow. At one point, I saw a canine stealthily sneaking across the trail, with its eyes fixed on something. I was surprised it didn’t take notice of me with my loud, labored breathing. As I got closer, it looked around and as it saw me, darted off and sprang into the forest. I wasn’t able to get a picture. I think it was a fox, or perhaps a lynx.
I passed Molas Lake and continued on. I was so close to the highway, but was never reaching it! The trail wound about. I saw people looking out over an overlook and hoped to reach them quickly to see if I could catch a ride into town, but I had a long series of switchbacks to climb, which took me further away from them. Finally, I came out onto the highway (well below the overlook). I was exhausted! I stuck out my thumb to the passing cars, but no one stopped. I had to trudge uphill to the overlook, where tourists were stopping. It was my best chance to get a ride into Silverton (six miles away). No one paid any attention to me there, either. They were only interested in taking in the view, using the restroom, and getting back into their cars. I saw an elderly couple head to their car and asked if they were going to Silverton. “Yes,” they replied.
“Would you mind giving me a ride?” I asked.
The husband looked at his wife and said, “Up to you.” She looked at me uncomfortably.
“It’s okay. I can ask someone else.” I said.
“I don’t feel comfortable,” she responded. Sigh…
A promising young, athletic couple came into the lot. The man was looking through his giant camera while the woman used the restroom. I checked out their car and saw that the backseats were out. Bummer.
Then I went over to an Asian couple taking photographs with a tripod. “Are you by any chance going to Silverton?” I asked.
“Would it be possible to take me?”. They said yes! Hurray! I went to get my pack while they made room in the back. They were a nice couple- Frank and Lisa. They were on vacation and were very relaxed and at ease (opposite to the elderly couple!). They even offered me water. We talked about the trail and the extremely dry year.
They dropped me off at the Brown Bear Cafe, as breakfast was the first thing on my mind! I thanked them several times and walked across the street. I took off my pack to leave outside. A woman was sitting on the bench and started chatting with me. She was really impressed with me taking the time to do this “especially at your age”. She believes that spending this time in nature will make me a better person. She asked what made me do this, which I always think is a great question, and she volunteered to watch my pack while I had my breakfast.
I ordered an omelette with cheese, mushrooms, peppers, ham, and toast. I went out to see if the lady wanted to leave, but she was fine, so I said I was going back to order my second breakfast. Finally, I had my trail appetite! I ordered 2 blueberry pancakes and doused them with syrup and butter. I had coffee, as well as water. I felt very dehydrated from not drinking much on the hike this morning. The woman’s man friend came in to give me my pack back, as she was ready to leave. I checked my e-mail and caught up on facebook. I learned the very sad news that my friend Amanda and her boyfriend were separating after having a baby five months ago, and I felt so sad for her.
I then made my way over to the Prospector Motel, where the man in the office was on the phone. He told the person at the other end that there was a “young lady” waiting. He had one room left for $57. Perfect! The room wasn’t ready yet, but he said he would put my pack in my room for me. He was very nice.
I made my way to the post office, picked up my resupply box, sorted through my things, and sent a small box home. From the post office, I saw a street with an “Arcade” sign and immediately knew that this was where the gun show that Chad had mentioned took place. I laughed out loud.
On my way back, I passed by the couple who refused to give me a ride. I gave them a big smile!
Once back in my room, I showered, put my dirty clothes in my sleeping bag liner, and then headed the several blocks in town to the RV park where I could do my laundry.
The man in charge was thankful that I was doing my laundry there! I called Charlie back, wrote Amanda a message, and flipped through some magazines. Two workers came in to do some laundry. The coins had gotten stuck in the dryer I was using and one of the women helped me out.
I listened to my ipod on my way back to my room. When I reached my door, the owner saw me and asked me if I did my laundry. “Done!” I proudly said.
He nodded. “Go and get some rest now!” he said.
I thanked him. I tried to nap, but it was difficult again! I was hungry. I got up at 3:45 and walked back into town to find some dinner. I got to Steller’s Pizzeria at 4pm. There was only one other party in the restaurant, but the service was extremely slow. I ordered a cup of tomato bisque soup, a small salad, and a San Juan Supreme 8 inch pizza. Before I even had a chance to eat the pizza, the waitress kept asking me if I wanted it boxed! (Give me a chance, lady…!). I decided to order a Stella Artois to have with my pizza. The owner introduced himself to me. “What’s your name? You look familiar. Are you from Durango?” He asked if I would be coming back for dinner tomorrow or was I headed back to the trail. I finished my pizza and was too full for dessert. I chatted with the waitress and with a couple who were celebrating their 12th anniversary. We heard gunshots while we were talking. The gun show!
I went in search for another candy bar to add to my food bag, but the store had a sign saying “be back in five”, so I went across the street to get a piece of fudge. The girl gave it to me for free because she said it was so tiny!
I went back to the store to get my candy bar. The cashier told me about the free brass band concert that evening and the railroad exhibit. The gun show was having a slow start, as the audience was not yet big enough. I decided to walk down to the train station. I called Chad and left him a message, telling him that I just wanted to let him know the gun show was about to begin in Silverton! The depot was closed, but I saw the array of put-put cars lined up on the tracks.
I called Laura and left her a message, then listened to some Michael Jackson on my way back! Fun! Chad called back. He had just finished a 9 hour bike race and was going to eat some Mexican food. He implored me to go walk around the Grand Imperial Hotel and see if the hairs stood up on my arms. I didn’t feel comfortable walking into a place I wasn’t staying at, but he insisted. “Go in like you own the place.” I did and the hairs kind of did stand up on my arm.
I went back to my room to plan the next (and final!) section a bit, and then headed out again to check out the concert. All of the seats were long taken by the time I arrived, so I stood in the back. The band was composed of volunteers from all over the country who paid their own way to come out here and perform for a few days. They played Carmen, the theme from Superman, a Wellington- style piece, and a foxtrot, among many others. The conductor was very articulate. I managed to get a seat when some others left. I began to feel very sleepy, though. My eyelids were starting to close, so I left at the intermission and headed back to my room. Amanda had written me back and informed me of two other break-ups from yoga people that I love. It was almost too much sadness for me to bear.
As I was getting ready for bed, a huge moth flew into the bathroom! I was unable to get it out, so it stayed in there all night! At 9:43, Chad called back, wondering if I had checked out the Imperial. He told me about his experiences with spirits. Later, he talked about how strong he felt, despite the bad things that were currently happening to him, and how riding his bike helped release some of these emotions. It reminded me of how I was feeling in Lake City. I asked him if he was ever going to to tell me what happened to him. “Uh… I don’t know…Only if it feels right…” he responded. (Men…!)
He called me buddy and told me to call him again.
Throughout my sleep, I was bothered by the term “buddy”… and had a conversation with him about it in a dream. I had to get up to go to the bathroom three times during the night and hoped the gigantic moth with its huge hairy body would not fly onto me! So scary!