CDT Day 102: Mount Arps to Hwy 50 (Salida, CO)– Rollercoaster Railroad Camp to Simple Lodge and Hostel
Miles hiked: 10
Total miles: 1760.4
This wonderful section through the Collegiate Range had to end sometime. It happened a little bit sooner than expected due to limited Saturday post office hours, but I am grateful for my time in those mountains. And we got one more awesome pass out of it too before the inevitable town stop. Good section.
I was awake early, a little after 4am, when I realized that it was Saturday, which meant we needed to make it to the post office today unless we wanted to zero in Salida. And the PO closed at noon. Darn, gotta take the shortcut. I guess we were lucky that there was a shortcut to the highway at all, but I was bummed to miss the last short section of ridgewalking. But 18 trail miles to Monarch Pass was too far to hike in time. 9 miles to Hwy 50 a few miles short of Monarch, sounded possible. It was trading 9 mile of ridgewalking today for six mile of roadwalking tomorrow.
We were hiking by 7:30am down the old railroad grade. Some funny historical signs about the 1890 snowplow competition had me smiling despite the stinging cold. A big ridge blocked the sun to the east, so it was going to be painful for a while. My ears stung and I needed to blow into my fists to warm my fingers.
The trail turned onto a steep dirt road that brought me to an old mining relic where I found Rooster and Spice pondering the old machinery. I wondered whether or not the old outhouse was still useable. At the top of the climb, above the trees, we could see Crunchberry churning up switchbacks to the lone pass of the day. We circled Hancock Lake, then began the climb ourselves.
It only took three switchbacks up, and there was sun waiting for me on top. Views in both directions were pretty good, but it was still to cold to waste time looking at them. Just a couple miles left. All downhill. I found the others waiting in a sunny spot, somehow protected from the wind. We grooved from there, forest cruising, then rock hopping, then dirt road crunching.
Yellow aspen tried to distract us from the goal, but Spice and I made it to the highway before 11am and easily caught a ride into town. We were deposited at the hostel after a brief tour, then took some loaner bikes to the post office where our wayward bounce box waited. Spice got her new backpack and I got a new sleeping pad, so we shipped away our old ones and snagged some food and different layers from our box before sending it on to New Mexico(!).
We checked out the modest farmers market, then made it back to the hostel for chilling. I had a short visit at the library, then an extended stay in the park to get some interneting done. By the time I got back, Rooster and Crunchberry were there, and Spice was napping off some dehydration. But it’s okay, I can take care of myself. I resupplied at Safeway, then cooked up and ate most of a big pot of pasta for dinner. Spice finally did make it to dinner and helped herself to stoner’s portion of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, before finishing off the pasta for me. To bed in a warm room covered in hiking gear and garbage. Drink water, eat pasta.