Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rawlins, WY

Goodbye, CO! Hello, WY! The Mt. Zirkel Wilderness was awesome, I crossed the border, the Huston Park Wilderness was pretty lame, but then I saw a herd of ~300 elk, making it pretty dang cool. I started the big desert stretch and did a huge roadwalk. The road was part of the course in the Great Divide bike race, so I saw 7 of them go by, plus some very friendly motorists stopped to see what the heck I was doing (this road is really long and really empty through really empty terrain).

I'm feeling good. I got blisters on each pinky toe, so that kinda stinks, but I guess I feel OK. The terrain in CO was so rough I could rarely do more than 2 mph, but I was doing 4 on the road this morning into town, so it feels good to know that I still have it in me if the terrain isn't ridiculous. My pack feels a little too heavy, especially now that I have to haul lots of water again. Sometimes by 9:30 PM when I quit I'm stumbling around like a drunk and banging my feet on every rock, but I feel great every morning. I have started sleeping pretty well, not waking up every hour, but that means I sometimes don't get going until 7:30 or even 8, much later than I'd like. Seeing the bikers cruise by made me want to run, but I have to remind myself this hike is somewhere in the region of 5500-6100 miles long, so I've just got to do 28 miles a day, every day, slow and steady, and I'll make it.

Apparently there is a fabulous Thai restaurant with a AYCE lunch that is fabulous in town, that's where I'm headed now. Great Thai in Wyoming, whooda thunk it?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Steamboat Springs, CO

Sweet. I'm only one day behind schedule, and the mountains had to take a little break while I went from some range east of here over by Rocky Mountain National Park to the Rabbit Ears range over here, plus this is my last resupply in Colorado. 1256 miles done. I ran the last hour into Grand Lake a couple days ago in order to get to the PO before it closed to mail my ice axe home. Too bad everything else closed at 5 too, so the only socks I could find in town are cute little ones with moose on them. Speaking of moose, I saw my first two of the trail in the past few days. I saw three beavers on the bike trail to Frisco, as well as a guy fly fishing from the shoulder of I-70. Not a trailhead, not a pullout, not even a wide shoulder, there was just a dude fishing from I-70. I thought it was pretty awesome that he could've gone trolling if he got in his car and drove along in first gear. I continue to see lots of elk, but also saw a couple newborn dear that were still mottled and instead of running they just hunker down in a ball and shake with fear. I had a roadwalk on highways 14 and 40 today, along which I met an English/Dutch couple biking across the country. Marcus, we're soooo doing that summer '09.

Oh and you better believe your black wicking polyester REI MTS size small men's boxer briefs that I rang in the first day of summer yesterday by honoring the Appalachian Trail tradition of Hike Naked Day. Needless to say, it was totally awesome.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pics as promised

I have tried to put these photos into roughly reverse chronological order but they lack captions because I don't have any details at hand. Not anymore, says Garret. Hopefully once I get home and look at all of them in exact order I'll remember names and everything. That's always seemed to work out before.

Yep, it was pretty much like this for 250+ solid miles.

Me, on the crest somewhere in the SJ's.

Gunsight Pass in the SJ's.

Woo! Made it to Colorado.
The Toaster House in Pie Town. Formerly a hostel, now a porch to hang out on.

The road turns to gumbo and attaches to your shoes in 5 pound clumps.
Aspens, not birches Aaron :) I believe along the Black Range Crest Trail

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

Lone rattler of the trip (so far). West Fork, Gila River

Gila River

The Gila River, forded 150~ times

This should be obvious. The border. 8:00~ PM May 2.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Frisco, CO

I think I'm getting soft. 3 Showers in the last 7 days and I'm doing laundry once a week like a regular person (of course normal people don't wear the same shirt/shorts/underwear for the entire week, but I digress.) I'm actually at my friend Carolyn's house outside Boulder for the night, the fourth night I've slept in a bed in the last month and a half. I did a couple 12,000 foot passes on Wednesday to get to Twin Lakes, one of which was Hope Pass which plays a prominent role in the Leadville 100 and has something ridiculous like 2,500 feet of gain in two miles from either side. A 16-hour day yesterday, and two more similar passes today, and I got to Copper Mountain. I started a low route to Silverthorne so I could be near a road for Carolyn to pick me up for the night. Good thing too, because there was a traveling BBQ festival in Frisco, about halfway between Copper and Silver.

So things are going OK. I get crazy ideas about doing big 35+ days and making up time, but then the Colorado mountains think it proper to remind me that, just like the San Juans, they can kick my butt any time they please, so the trail climbs 1,000 feet in a mile and then gets routed on some spruce-covered north face that's covered in rotten waste-deep snow that I have to swim my way through, and every time I posthole the snow grabs the heel of my shoe and reminds me I've got a quarter-sized open blister. I get really mad, but I keep on trudging, and when it gets dark and I set up my tarp-tent wherever I happen to be, I usually realize that I did manage to do 25+ miles at 11,000 to 12,000 feet and I'm doing fine by my schedule. Or I walk right through a BBQ festival. Funnel Cakes!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Salida, CO

943 miles covered. Well, the San Juans are over, and I shipped the snowshoes back to Namie today. It might be too soon to say this, but the snow might be ending and the mosquitoes are beginning. The route has been contiguous with the Colorado Trail for the last while. I was all alone without any cover in 50 mph winds on top of 11,000 ft + Snow Mesa when I left Lake City, and I had to start a fire to thaw my shoes that I foolishly left outside the tent one night, but things have mellowed since then and I did some 30~ days again. I may be 3 days behind schedule, but I should be moving fast again. I took a low route yesterday with some road walking from Sargents, CO up to Monarch Pass and today I am taking my first zero day, I think since I visited NYC on the AT in 2002. Heel blisters are lame. The fabulous news is that my SD card survived my near drowning in Pole Creek, so my mom is now in possession of 317 photos. She's gonna send Marcus some of the cool ones and he'll post them on the blog. Sorry guys, but Spidey 3 started 5 minutes ago, so I've got to jet.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Lake City, CO

Garret called me June 6 at 6:38 AM to give me an update. The only open business was a bakery with no indoor waiting space, so I guess the phone booth was as warm as anything. He had spent the night stealth camping outside of town and was waiting for the post office to open.

First, mad props Namie Bacile for lending Garret some snowshoes and to Anya and Joe for putting him up in Pogosa Springs. Thanks guys.

Garret hiked almost all of high route of the San Juans which in his estimation are easily the baddest mountains in lower 48. He did take one shortcut because he was blown off a pass by a snowstorm. While shortcutting he almost drowned. He didn't give many details on this, just that he almost drowned. Oh, and his camera got soaked so there might be no pictures for the first 1/6th of his trip. But really--he almost drowned. He's okay now.

Lastly, he asked me to pronounce a pox on Lake City for overpriced touristy hotels where he could not find a room since they are all closed by 8 PM. He had a backup place to stay with an Applied Maths professor he had met on the trail, but it seems dude was expecting urgent communications since the fax machine was the only thing on the phone line all night long.

In short, he sounds good and is having a blast.