9/11 – That morning we got all packed up, said goodbye to our little green cottage and met up with “Team Food Challenge” outside the post office. We spent the day catching up with RT, Kombucha, Hawkeye, Heaps and Joker and swapping stories of our adventures since Grand Lake. Apparently they’d been quite cold during the last section, which surprised us as the weather had been fairly temperate for us. It’s amazing the difference just a few days can make when it comes to the weather.
We were also aghast to discover that the rumors we’d heard about Joker getting off trail were true. Apparently Joker was running low on funds and even though he might have been able to finish the trail it would have been risky. Plus, his old job as a cook at a restaurant had opened up so it was an opportunity difficult to turn down. Still, we were sad and surprised to hear now Joker would now only be a CDT “Section Hiker”. Tomorrow he’d catch the Greyhound back north to Bellingham, Washington.
We joined in the evening goodbye festivities at the Circle R Motel before hitching back….. not to the trail unfortunately but just to the next town, Poncha Springs. Evening fell and still no one had picked us up so we were forced to stealth camp between a closed store and a 16 wheeler up on blocks. We restlessly “slept” to the barking of the entire town’s dogs, interspersed with a man yelling obscenities from his front porch. Thankfully none of the dogs ever pounced on us and we made it through the night. Oh the joys of being a vagabond!
The house we stayed at
9/9 – Thankfully we got a hitch with the FIRST car who drove by. And we rented a bedroom in an adorable little green house in the heart of downtown Salida. It was awesome to have our own space – especially since it was just a few blocks away from everything. Myke and Naomi were the only hikers in town so after getting settled went out with them to the Fritz for scrumptious tapas. The evening was divine. Partly because of the amazing spread we feasted that was more gourmet (pears & Gorgonzola, curried mussels) than the usual hiker town fare and partly because it was just the 4 of us. Even though I hadn’t showered in about a week and was wearing my grubbing hiking clothes, I felt elegant and refined. It was more like a double date in “real life” than the surreal trail-obsessed life we often lead during thru-hikes. Ok, so I’ll admit we still talked about the trail a lot, but we also broached other subjects, like the alluring nude-in-nature photos lining the wall of Fritz.
9/10 – ZERO DAY! Yay! Our first day of zero trail miles in ages and thanks to a compact downtown we didn’t put in many town miles either. We did our chores, buying food for the next section, using the internet and also had plenty of time for fun stuff. A friendly local named Ray treated us to a home-baked breakfast at the Downtown Bakery and told us of his adventures hitch-hiking across Europe and Asia. We chatted with Tia, who owned the house we were renting. She’s an artist and art therapist who is moving to India to live in a community there. And we explored many of the art galleries and little shops in Salida. I was especially taken by Fringe, which was chalk full of amazing fabric and gifts. The colours and patterns were magnificent, many with a vintage feel. I added “start sewing” to my To Do list when I get home.