Colorado Trail, Day 23: Simmering Down in Salida

Zero Days are some of the most anticipated days for any thru-hiker. They offer a chance to step off the trail, sleep in a real bed, eat some real food, get clean and take care of all the little chores that build up while spending a week in the woods. The only problem with town days is that they are always way too short. We never have time to do everything we want, and so it was in Salida.

We wake up on the early side at the Simple Hostel. With hardly anyone else staying in the hostel, it feels like we have this little home all to ourselves. We lay around in bed, catching up on emails and news of the outside world. By the time it gets to be 8:00, we both realize that we are suddenly Starvin’ Marvin. We get dressed as quickly as we possibly can and race to the closest restaurant we can find that serves breakfast. Shallots is perfect, and we share a wonderful polenta and egg skillet as well as a yogurt and fruit parfait that is as eye-catching as it is delicious.

With some food in our bellies, we are in a much better mood, and we feel ready to tackle the day’s chores. First stop is a trip to the post office to pick up our resupply box that we mailed to ourselves from Denver. We are also hoping that the new foldable keyboard that we ordered from Amazon for Alison will also be there. (The bottom row keys of her last one stopped working in Frisco.) On the way to the post office, we see a young male deer with antlers in velvet walking right down the middle of the street!

He wanders about, finally jumping over a fence and disappearing into someone’s backyard. When we look down the alley to see where he went, we see that there is a doe hanging out there, too. We’re guessing this is not the first time these deer have hoofed it in downtown Salida.

The clerk at the post office asks us for ID to pick up our general delivery packages. He looks at our last names and says he recognizes them both from the packages in the back. Matt says he likes feeling like a known quantity in small town Colorado, and, sure enough, the clerk finds both of our packages and brings them out to us. We love this miracle of the US postal service. It certainly makes the life of a thru-hiker a lot simpler!

Back at the hostel, we commandeer the breakfast table and lay out all of our food, adding in what we still have leftover from the last leg of the trail. We have a few extra things and a few things still to buy, so we make a list. Matt runs out to the Safeway at the other end of the downtown while I work on adding photos to our blogposts now that we have decent WiFi.

The hostel is quiet this morning. The few others who were staying here have already checked out, and nobody can check in until 4 pm, so it is a good spot to get some work done. IT Matt is the only one around, and he is busy getting his own work done.

He is from Chicago, but he spends a lot of his time in Colorado since he can work anywhere with an Internet connection. He is more of a runner than a hiker, and, in a few weeks, he will be back in Denver running the Pikes Peak Marathon. He comes out often to train here, and he just spent the last weekend volunteering for the High Country 100, a 100-mile race through the rugged San Juan Mountains. The racers have 48 hours to complete the course, but the winning times were in the 17-hour range. Can you imagine?

Before long, my Matt returns from buying groceries and fuel and getting his hair cut. We divide up all of the food in half between us and load it into our bear bags to be ready for tomorrrow. We also gather all of the extras we won’t be needing and decide that there is enough there to make mailing a small package home worthwhile.

With those tasks done, we head out again, this time for lunch. There is an excellent-sounding sandwich shop in town called Sweetie’s that we decide to check out, and it has so many different salads and sandwiches to choose from, it’s almost overwhelming. We grab a table outside and enjoy the fresh bread and leafy greens of our meal. It’s amazing how good the things we can’t get on the trail taste!

After lunch, we run back to the post office to mail our small box back home and then back to the hostel to take care of a few more chores. We are trying to arrange a pickup in Creede, our next resupply town, that is 10 miles off trail via a rough 4WD road. We also are hoping that we can find a trail angel here in Salida who might drive us back to Monarch Pass in the morning. The hostel has a list of people who are willing to help out hikers, and Matt starts calling them to see if anyone is available in the morning.

Our hope is that we can get back to the river this afternoon to go tubing down the river. It looks like so much fun, and we are bummed we missed our opportunity yesterday. Unfortunately, the weather is looking even worse today, and, when a nasty thunderstorm with hail, lightning and heavy winds hits, we resign ourselves to the idea that we will have to come back to Salida another time to do all that we want in this cute town.

In the late afternoon, lots of new hostel guests start arriving, including a few CT hikers that we have not met before. We chat with Bailey and Dave, each solo hikers, who just finished the Collegiate West, too, and are heading back out in the morning.

We finallly decide it’s time to hit the showers, and we get ready to go out for dinner around 7:30. We go to the very popular Amica’s Pizzeria and grab a seat at the bar after ordering a pizza and salad at the counter.

Before long, fellow hosteler IT Matt arrives and grabs a stool at the bar next to us, and we spend the rest of the evening chatting with him about travel and hiking. He has been on a mission to hike all the highest peaks in the 50 US states, and he has done all but six of them. In June, he went up to Alaska on a 3-week expedition to climb Denali. Unfortunately, the weather was terrible, and his team had to turn around after spending a week or so at base camp waiting for their shot.

IT Matt is a cool guy, and it is funny that, once again, we find ourselves meeting someone from our hometown that we seem to have a lot of shared interests with out here in Colorado. IT Matt joins us for a local IPA at Bensen’s Tavern before we go back to the hostel and call it an evening. Our ride will be coming for us at 7 tomorrow morning, and we want a good night’s sleep before we begin Leg 4 and the second half of the Colorado Trail.

Day 23 Stats

Starting Point: Salida
End Point: Salida
Mileage: Zero
Segment: Zero Day
Date OFF Trail: July 23, 2018

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