Back on the Real Deal

Normal trail never looked so good!

Day 54: June 16, 2019

Destination: Colorado Trail East Collegiate Loop Mile 9.1

Today’s Miles: 19

Start Location: Salida

Trip Miles: 880.0

When I got up this morning, I made a pot of coffee at the hostel, chewed on some leftover peanut butter and tortillas, scarfed down a hiker box packet of fig newtons, and thought: “I’ll be back on trail today.”

I had 9.9 miles to walk from Poncha Springs to the Colorado Trail, which I would be following for 69.4 miles until I rejoined the CDT at Twin Lakes. But first, how to get back to Poncha Springs? I called my Dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day. It was good to be able to talk with my folks for little bit!

My transportation question answered itself. As I finished getting my bag ready, who walks into the hostel but Cracker. He asked if anyone wanted a ride to Monarch Pass. I told him I didn’t need to go that far, but would love a ride to Poncha Springs, 4.8 miles away. Just like that, I had a ride and we were off! It’s weird how stuff like that just works out on trail. It’s almost like the trail is saying, “You know, you kind of worry too much about stuff in general in normal life. Relax - things will unfold as they should.”

Cracker was with a hiker friend from Norway. Her name is “Gree,” but I have no idea how to spell it. She is really interesting and has a lot of trail experience. They hiked some of the CDT together last year, and she came back to the US to hike the Idaho Centennial Trail this summer. I said thank you and goodbye to both of them and started my walk out of Poncha Springs to the Colorado Trail trailhead.

The road walk wasn’t great. The shoulder kept getting narrower, so I had to be careful with oncoming traffic. The weather was nice though and I listened to some Stuff You Should Know podcasts. Not too far before the trailhead is the Monarch Spur RV Park. I stopped in for a snack and soda at their office. I had an ice cream sandwich, Three Musketeers bar, and a cherry Dr. Pepper. I realize this is super unhealthy, but they didn’t have any more substantial snacks. It was that or chips. I didn’t even realize Dr. Pepper had a cherry flavor. It was OK, but no cherry coke.

The trailhead was so unremarkable I walked 0.3 miles past it. I had to turn around, but once I got on he trail it was incredibly well maintained. I walked through green pine and aspen forests, and finally felt like I was hiking again. It was a really good feeling! I passed some folks with horses, and generally just enjoyed the sounds of the forest. I only walked 9 miles into the trail, but the weather was looking rainy and I was tired, so I decided to have an early day and stopped at 5.

This section of trail up to Twin Lakes is said to be completely snow free. I’m really looking forward to that! I needed an injection of “good trail” back into my hike, and I think this section will do just that. It has been thundering tonight but not really raining yet. It is supposed to rain off and on for the next few days. I’m hoping those showers are short and sweet.

Blasphemy didn’t hike out of Salida today, so I am once again on my own. At this point, CDT hikers are so scattered that I am not sure when I will see anyone again. If not before, the. Probably in Leadville, but maybe sooner. You just never know!

I’m grateful to be back on trail and off the roads for now! It’s great to know that I will wake up tomorrow and not hear cars!

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