Day 51: June 13, 2019
Destination: US Hwy 225 five miles north of Villa Grove
Today’s Miles: 29.3
Start Location: CO114 - “Mosquitoville”(near Saguache)
Trip Miles: 839.2
I woke up early, ready to try to tackle the mosquito gauntlet into town. It was in the low 40s, but there were already a few stray mosquitos around. I packed up fast and walked on.
It didn’t take long for the mosquitos to wake up. They weren’t as bad as last evening, but I had a small cloud out with me for a breakfast run. I walked fast so that only the fittest of the fit could keep up. I was like the Richard Simmons for mosquitos. They all had their little spandex outfits on, flitting around, and I pushed them harder, encouraging them to do their buzzy best.
It was a chilly morning, so I had started walking with my rain jacket on, hood up. This helped keep the mosquitos away from my juicy neck. Some of the brighter pupils in my class tried to fly inside my hood. I crushed them like the little brown-nosing, teacher’s gnats that they were (insert evil laugh).
I finally had to stop to take off my jacket. I was sweating and gave in. I layered some deet on myself, and the magic of my exercise class was no more. My pupils left for redder pastures and I marched happily along towards Saguache.
When I got to town, the first thing I saw was a convenience store. I stopped in and got a cherry coke to scratch the soda itch. A short stroll from there took me downtown. It was a cute little town center, though some of the shops were closed. I was told that Saguache was one of the poorest counties in CO, but I guess as the county seat you kind of need a nice facade at least.
A little white peekapoo, or some kind of froofroo dog was on the sidewalk and immediately started barking at me. I knelt down and extended my hand out to her. She walked over, yipping, then stood in front of my thumb, yipping. Her owner called to her, “Molly, hush!” I said, “I guess Molly doesn’t like me.” The lady replied, “No, that pretty much means she likes you. She’s just really annoying.” I laughed, agreed with her, and moved on. Molly was still barking when I left. I like it when pet owners don’t completely idolize their pets if they can be annoying sometimes. It’s pretty funny, but also, you can love something without it being perfect, right? I’m sure there are people who find me annoying but still love me, right Gillian? :-) Even the adorably cute Lucy the cat can be an utter terror some mornings, running around screaming for us to wake up. Sorry Lucy, but sometimes ....
I went into the 4th Street Diner right downtown. It was a lovely, wide open cafe space. As soon as I set my bag down and walked towards the counter, a guy motioned to me and asked “are you a CDT hiker?” His name (trail name) was Cracker and he hiked the trail last year. He invited me to join him, so I did. He was a really nice guy and we chatted about the trail and current snow conditions. I had a breakfast burrito and some pie - delicious! I loved the small, home-towny feel of this place!
Blasphemy showed up and ordered some food. I continued to drink coffee and work on my strawberry rhubarb pie. When Blasphemy first walked in, a random lady asked him if he was from Saguache. When he said no, she explained that she asked because she had just seen a bear walking down the street and wanted to know if that was normal. What?! I guess we missed that excitement.
I headed out to hike north toward Villa Grove while Blasphemy went to the grocery. It’s interesting what kind of discoveries one makes when walking on road shoulders. Fortunately the shoulder heading out of Saguache was wide and there weren’t really any mosquitos! I listened to podcasts and walked. A broken phone here, a charging cord there, a capped syringe, some screws and bolts, a bungee cord, liquor bottles, a solar charging pad that was smashed, some underpants - oh the interesting sights one can see! The best was rather gruesome. In fact, it was so gross it was equal parts horrifying and intriguing. Walking on roads there is always a prolific wax museum of roadkill. I stumbled upon a true Madame Tussaud masterpiece. I think it might have been a small opossum, or something like that. Something had run over its head, and it was quite clear that it had caused one of its eyeballs to literally rocket out of its skull and land about two feet away. Trust me, I sat there and stared and then worked the geometry a bit to make sure that was what I was seeing. The eyeball and the “stuff” behind it looked at me encouragingly as if to say, “yep, you’re on the right track, that’s how it happened!” I moved on pretty quickly (after a short gasp) once I established what I was looking at! Fascinating, but totally gross! The back of my eyes ached a little as I walked away....
I walked and walked until, in the early evening, I arrived at the town of Villa Grove. Only an hour earlier, a guy had almost stopped in the highway amidst moving traffic to ask if I needed a ride! I feel bad even politely turning people down, but I am a man on a mission, and that mission involves walking.
Villa Grove is really just a few shops along the highway. I went into Villa Grove Trade, a small general store and cafe. They told me I could order anything off of their menu until 8 - sweet! I had a buffalo burger, fries, and a piece of pie. It was delicious! They were so nice and laid back, they had WiFi and let Blasphemy and I fill up on water before leaving (he showed up after a while). It was the perfect stop for a hiker or traveler passing through. I’m starting to feel like I am just hiking from cafe to cafe, meal to meal. Hungry Cat: Will Hike for Food.
We hiked on another 5 miles and found a place to stop on BLM (State) land. Colorado is convenient in that way - there are often dirt roads off of the highways that are state land open to camping. If we didn’t have this, we would have to do a lot of sneaking around on private property.
A storm passed nearby as the evening settled down. It left us with beautiful pink skies over the nearby mountains. The San Luis Valley may be a road walk, but it will reveal its charms from time to time if given the chance.