CDT Day 82 — September 15
Rabbit Ears Pass to some ridge in the Rabbit Ears Range
Big Agnes Camp to Favorite Spot Camp
Miles hiked: 27.8
Total miles: 1471.5
Out of town, into the mountains. But not after some more highway walking and maybe the scariest experience of the trail so far. This was one of those “in between” days, yet it was really fun and easy on the mind. ¡Vamos!
Despite the best attempts of a 2am skateboarder to disturb us tired hikers by circling the block making loud skateboard sounds repeatedly, I slept alright. Surprisingly cold for being in town, but alright alright alright. We were packed and gone before sunrise. The perfect crime.
Roost and Crunch targeted McDonald’s for breakfast. Nothing for me and SpiceRack to eat there. We said our goodbyes after hopping off the free town bus, no idea where we’ll meet again. A visiting family member will keep them in town for a few more days. We walked to Colorado Bagel. We’ll see them again. For sure. Spice paid way too much for an avocado bagel, then we loaded into a car of fellow bagel-lovers for a fortuitous hitch back to Rabbit Ears Pass.
There was a different vibe and noticeable lack of hubbub without an ultramarathon in motion. The porta potties were still there though, so I made use of one before hiking out. 9:30am, back on the trail.
The trail went from paved road to dirt road to paved highway. We turned left and down onto the busy road, thankful for a wide shoulder. The sun quickly turned up the heat for our push across the wide valley of pasture and abandoned cabins. Spice gave some water and a Lära Bar to an intriguing individual walking in the opposite direction wearing one sock and no shoes.
We received the scare of a lifetime when a truck going our direction decided to pass a slower moving vehicle as it was even with us (if that makes any sense). Not expecting this one bit, Spice and I just about sh*t ourselves when the truck hurtled by, just a foot or two from Spice’s right shoulder. We generally move far off the road for oncoming traffic, but this came from behind with no warning, and left me a little shaky and juiced with adrenaline. “Aren’t you afraid of bears, or mountain lions, or snakes?” “Do you carry a gun?” These are common questions we hikers hear. No, I’m not really afraid of animals. Cars are by far the most dangerous things I encounter on the CDT. Cars and other humans with guns.
We finally turned off of the pavement onto a dirt road that we would follow for the rest of the day. It climbed gradually through meadows and some of the most spectacular groves of aspen I’ve ever seen. Massive trees with trunks too wide to wrap my arms around (go hug a tree. It’s worth it!). Green leaves quaked and whispered with the breeze. Podcasts pumped from Gronk who hung out on the top of my pack.
Hunters were everywhere, driving trucks, driving ATVs, camping here, camping there. I found it mighty disconcerting to have such a large contingent of dudes wearing camo wandering, stalking, waiting in the woods. With just hikers around, I know that I can take a piss in peace if the trail is empty within sight. Now? Who knows who’s out there looking? As dusk faded to night, Spice and I started hiding off of the road whenever a truck rolled by. Better to be unseen than risk any kind of interaction. We heard a gunshot or two.
By headlamp we found an awesome spot to camp off of the road and on a ridge overlooking something that will be visible tomorrow. It smells of huckleberries and is surrounded by friendly trees. A warm clear night, a welcoming campsite. Spice and I agree that this might be our favorite spot yet. Intangible. True.