I wake with town thoughts in mind: Twin Lakes is ahead, and with it, seeing both M and Special. Six and a bit miles, and then town food and showers and beer and ice cream in one of the more beautiful towns in Colorado I’ve ever been to.
Both Trevor and I are getting a slow start, but it feels nicer this way, and I know I can make six miles before my housemates pull in around late afternoon. I even take the opportunity to eat before lazily scooting out of camp.
There’s more of an up than we think there will be, and both of us are slow, brains already in town, unsuccessfully tugging our bodies along behind us as we leapfrog down the trail. Still, on all the stops, it’s nice to see water in these here hills, to loiter among the aspens on the way town.
I see the trail to Mt. Elbert veer off and am left with a beautifully tended trail winding down towards my destination. The weather threatens, but holds, and the sun is on again-off again in her love for me.
I run into Trevor right before we hit the side trail to Twin Lakes, and we both take the detour: a tiny track, less well-tended, with a tendency to slope disconcertingly downhill at certain intervals. Nevertheless, I scoot around, trail’s elevation wibble-wobbling, knowing I’m less than a mile from town.
And then it hits the jeep road, and I know I’ve made a terrible mistake.
The jeep road heads basically straight down, and the further down I go, the more my heart sinks. It’s going to take me hours, hours to get back up this thing, to head back so I’m 100% on-trail for my entire trek. Maybe I’ll find someone to drive me up the jeep road, but I’m doubtful. I’m swearing like a sailor by the time I hit the bottom, where Trevor’s waiting, asking which way we go – left, into town town town, where the barbecue of our dreams is waiting for us.
We stuff pulled pork, ribbon fries, and Dr. Pepper into our faces in front of the Shooting Star Gallery, while a swarm of hummingbirds dart to and fro from Suzie’s feeders. Their maneuvers are fearless, and their squeaks and trills as they swoop around are delightful. So is the chair I’m in, slanted perfectly, optimal comfort for someone who spends most of her time leaning forward to compensate for a too-heavy pack. And there’s internet, and caffeine inside for a dollar, and we glut ourselves on the luxuries of the frontcountry.
Special texts – he and M are early – and Trevor and I make our way down to the Twin Lakes Inn, where I introduce him to the two of them; he checks in while I sort through the grocery bag with the stuff I asked Special to bring, repackage some stuff, get rid of others from my pack. I still have too much damn food – I probably carried two days’ worth into Twin Lakes – but at least I’ll have to buy less at the General Store later.
I’m waiting on M to unlock the car so I can put everything back when I catch an informational sign on top of the bookshelf. Apparently, Twin Lakes formerly held the name Dayton, after the town of Dayton, Ohio. The town I grew up in/around. I spend a fair bit of time
yelling lamenting that the state has chased me all the way here, before Special shoos me upstairs for a shower, where I luxuriate for a full half-hour.
I figure I should buy what little food I need before the General Store closes, and so we head across the street, greeting the hikers outside on entering. I go in and carefully count out days of food, garnering enough for the seven-day stretch to Salida, but by the time I sit down outside to munch on my ice cream and talk shop with the hikers – Atticus and Crankster – I think I still have too much. I convince myself that I’m going to start eating more, that carrying all this won’t be for nothing, dammit. Atticus, who thinks he’s stopping here in Twin Lakes, gives me Trail Butter out of his resupply to try to squeeze more calories into me. I’m intrigued, and thankful, hoping it’ll work. Crankster, for her part, is excited to have people around – she had a friend with her through Frisco, and then basically didn’t see anyone until she got here. We sit on the patio and sort through the maps Special found in the hiker box and drink beer together – Trevor joins us, after a while – until the sun runs far and the wind starts to bite and the rain comes in. We arrange for dinner reservations for later, and I take a nap and am pleased about not feeling guilty about not making miles.
Dinner is a lot of talk about life, hiking, making miles – about the “average hiker” and how many miles they make and how many miles the present company makes, and I focus on my food. I’m comparatively slow, and while I’ve hiked 175 miles all I’m hearing is how I should be going harder better faster stronger. In my defense, this is my first 175 miles, and the fewest miles among the present company hovers around ten times that, but the lively conversation keeps me from turning too far inwards. Atticus stuns us all by picking up the check, telling us to pay it forward. He and Crankster wander back to their cabin, and Special and I head upstairs, to sleep in the cushiest bed, made more cozy by the company and the beer and the town. It almost feels like home.
Start: 169.2 • End: 175.2 • Day: 6 + 1 for the side trail to town
Notable Accomplisments: Made it to second resupply without dying • Ate food, so know I can eat food on trail • Managed to get most of the hiker stench off in the shower