Thursday, August 13th, 2020
The sun lit up the surrounding mountains in a blanket of orange. It was a beautiful morning! We filled up on water, then started the rocky climb up. We walked by several glacial lakes as we climbed over the divide. The “Rocky” theme song popped in my head as I made the final push to the top. I suppose you can add that to the soundtrack. It was ridge walking through boulders for a while. As we approached Monarch Pass, there were plaques next to the trail talking about how prehistoric hunting groups used the boulder walls to ambush big game herds.
The trail led us to Monarch Mountain Ski Resort. We passed funny signs labeling the different ski trails. They were given names like, High Anxiety, Dire Straits, Snowburn, and my personal favorite, Shagnasty. After one final steep climb to the top of the lift, it was all downhill and bumping along until we reached Highway 50. The highway marked mile 78.1 of the Collegiate West and it was nearly complete! Only 5.1 miles before we were back on the main trail!
We walked uphill to the Monarch Crest Souvenir Shop which was where we hoped to find a ride to Salida. Thumbing it wasn’t working, so we asked people around the parking lot. Still no go. We thumbed it by the parking lot exit and got picked up by a guy names Rocco. He had just dropped his daughters off to go mountain biking and was heading back to Salida. We hopped in the bed of his truck and he was nice enough to make a pit stop for Bang at the RV Park so he could pick up a box he had sent there. The snowy mountains were a sight to see during the ride into town.
He dropped us off by the McDonald’s. We made it there in time for breakfast which we carried out to the parking lot to inhale like animals. We went back inside to grab lunch too once we were done. It was nice to have hot food again! We had to kill some time before we could check in at the motel, so we tried to hitch downtown. We caught a ride with “Beer Store Chuck,” who owned a liquor store nearby. We explored some of the shops and spent some time people watching in the park before catching a ride back to the Circle R Motel. It was really nice to be back in Salida again!
8.2 miles (13.2 km)
Friday, August 14th 2020
Finally, a zero day! It was a good thing because both Frisbee and I were not feeling great. This sparked a little alarm with our new trail family. This was COVID times, so suspicions were high! My stomach was being quite unfriendly, but I felt fine otherwise. Frisbee was feeling pretty lousy in comparison. We weren’t sure if we got food poisoning from McDonald’s or sun poisoning from too much exposure. Frisbee’s lips were blistered and we were suspecting the latter.
Most of our time in town involved eating or hanging out with hikers in the park. The park was great for people watching! Some people were enjoying the day like we were, others were getting in the river with rafts and kayaks. I even saw a mule deer sprinting down the street behind us. An old trail friend from the Appalachian Trail, Tumbleweed, visited us at the park with his wife. It was great to see him again! We’ve stayed in touch with his sister, Moxie back at home, but haven’t seen him since he moved to Colorado. He drove the four of us to Walmart so we could get a decent resupply.
We’d meet up with Dr. Thunder and the Babysitters Club later. An intense game of UNO followed. Frisbee and I are boring, and don’t drink alcohol anymore, so we went to bed while the rest of them pounded White Claws and brews. We weren’t sure if we were going to manage to escape the vortex tomorrow, or if we’d end up staying for a second zero day. We shall see.
0 miles ( 0 km)
Jump Ahead to The Colorado Trail: Part 14
Jump Back to The Colorado Trail: Part 12
Start from the Beginning: The Colorado Trail: Part 1