Friday, June 8, 2018

Day 52-55- The Flop

Tuesday June 05-08, 2018
South Pass City(1747.3) to Highway 28(1750.1) 2.8 Miles
Total: 935.8 Miles

Not much has happened in the last few days. The flip flop is now complete. I am currently back in Pagosa Springs, CO. I’m staying in the same hotel and ate dinner at the same restaurant. It is a very surreal experience to have traveled so far only to end up back where I started. Tuesday morning Turtle and I woke up at 4:15 and hiked out of South Pass City at 5am. We had to get to the highway early enough to hitch into Lander by 8:55. We needed to catch a bus from Lander into Riverton, where we had a rental car reservation. We made it to the highway by 6:00. Even though it was a major thoroughfare, there wasn’t much traffic that early in the morning. After sitting on the side of the road for over an hour only 4 cars went by. We were definitely starting to get nervous. The fifth car to go by actually stopped. My heart immediately sank. It was a cop in a K-9 truck. My first thought was, “oh shit, is hitchhiking illegal in Wyoming?”  Luckily the officer did not hassle us. He just wanted to make sure we were ok. I guess hitchhiking is ok in Wyoming. Twenty minutes later the seventh car to go past stopped. The driver, Alex, was on his way home from Salt Lake City. He had been driving since 3am. He was a serious rock climber and was very familiar with having to hitch to get places. He also had a friend who had hiked the cdt. We chatted nonstop for the 35 mile drive. Once we got into Lander we stopped for coffee before Alex had to go to work. Thanks Alex!

Highway 28

Lander was a very cute town and a mecca for climbers. I wish we could have spent more time there, but we had a bus to catch. We grabbed a sandwich from Subway and waited at the bus stop. While we were waiting a nice couple stopped and asked if we needed a ride anywhere. We explained that we were waiting for the bus to Riverton, over 25 miles away. Even though they weren’t going that way they offered us a ride. How nice! We graciously declined, but they said if they came by in 20 minutes and we were still standing there they would take us. Lander seemed like a very hiker friendly town. Luckily, the bus showed up 10 minutes later. It was only $1 a piece and the time went by quickly. We were dropped off at the airport a little after 10. This is when the problems started. We were 1 day early for our rental car reservation. I wasn’t concerned because when I looked online Hertz showed that there were 7 cars available. Apparently Hertz doesn’t know how to count their inventory. The overworked checkin lady kindly explained that she was in fact overbooked and actually had negative four cars for the day. There was zero chance of us getting out today. In fact we weren’t even sure that our reservation for tomorrow would be honored. Once again they didn’t have enough cars for all of the reservations. We explained our situation and were told we would get a car, but she could not guarantee that it would be before 2pm. We had a 9 hour drive ahead of us and didn’t like the idea of such a late start. There was absolutely nothing we could do about it. There were no other rental car companies in the area, no Greyhounds either, and a plane would have cost us over a thousand dollars. The only thing we could do was spend the night in Riverton. The hotels were located close to five miles away and the bus had stopped running. There was no way I was walking offtrail, paved road miles. Twenty dollars and a cab ride later we made it to the hotel. We finally had a little luck and got an early checkin. We showered, did laundry, and walked around town looking for a place to buy beer. It was nice not having to worry about resupplying. We would take care of that on our way to Telluride. 

Extremely low railings out front of the motel. I’m not sure how that is up to code

We ordered pizza into the hotel and relaxed. I even got to see the new Han Solo Star Wars movie. The movie theater was only 1 block away. It was an unexpected relaxing day. The next morning, Wednesday June 06, we woke up at 6:30 and went in search of a coffee shop. We had to catch a 9:40 bus to the airport to make our 10:00 car rental reservation. We could only find a drive-thru coffee shop, but they had some picnic tables in the shade. We sat there for a few hours before walking over to the bus stop. We were there fifteen minutes early and after waiting almost 35 minutes for the bus to arrive I began to get nervous. We couldn’t afford to be late to the airport. I was scared that we would lose our car since there weren’t enough to go around. I called the bus company and was assured the bus was just running late and would be there any minute. I then called Hertz and was told that they had a car for us, but we needed to get there ASAP. We waited for another 15 minutes and the bus still wasn’t there. I decided to call the bus company again before spending another $20 for a cab. We were told that the bus had driven by our location shortly after I called the first time. I was very insistent that it in fact did not. After a brief conversation they lady on the phone announced that she would come and pick us up, but it was a one time thing. I explained that we were not locals and a one time thing was just fine by us. I called the car rental place and explained the situation, but was told she could not guarantee our car would still be waiting for us. It seemed to me at the time that we were racing the clock. Lori, the bus official, arrived about 15 minutes later and drove us to the airport. We were close to an hour late for our reservation. I tentatively walked up to the Hertz counter expecting the worst. Luck shined upon us and our car was still there and we didn’t have to wait. We were on the road heading south a little after 11. 

Our fancy driving machine

Including insurance, two drivers, and taxes the car cost us $135. I feel like that was a fair price. Turtle drove first and I was able to relax and do some trail research. We stopped in Rawlins for a bathroom break and to pick up some road snacks. We drove almost the exact route that we had just hiked. The drive took us 2.25 hours. To hike that distance was four long days. Things like this always put things in perspective. It was amazing how much more we saw of the landscape moving at 3 mph. 

We actually hiked on the highway at this exact spot on day 1 out of Rawlins

Car selfie featuring my awesome frames tan from my buff neck wrap 

The drive out of Wyoming was very routine. We had zero issues and the miles passed by quickly. After a few hours we followed the exact route that Mangas had driven us over a week earlier. I was hoping to get more done on my phone while Turtle drove, but I didn’t have cell service. Once we reached Rifle, CO Turtle and I switched places. I was more familiar with the roads in this area, so I didn’t mind driving. Mountain roads can be pretty intimidating if you are not used to driving them. It has been awhile since I’d been behind the wheel. To make matters worse I started of with 50 miles on the interstate. I haven’t driven on the interstate in over a year. It took me awhile to adjust to the car and high speeds of I-70. We stopped at a grocery store in Montrose to resupply. I don’t go to Montrose very often, but I go often enough to know the area. We finished our shopping pretty fast and got on the road again. While we were shopping the sun had set. I got the pleasure of driving the final miles to Telluride in the dark. It was probably a good thing that I was the one driving. Driving these mountain roads in the dark can be tricky, but I am pretty familiar with them. A big elk was wandering on the road just as I came around a corner. Luckily, I was driving slow so it wasn’t a concern. We waited patiently for him to mosey across the street. The rest of the drive went by quickly. We stopped by my hotel, The Peaks Resort and Spa, to pick up the key to Seth’s apartment. I spent close to an hour visiting with my friends and coworkers. Before heading back to Seth’s apartment, Turtle and I stopped by Poachers Pub for a quick bite to eat. After dinner we hung out at the apartment waiting for Seth to get home from work. This time around we went to bed at a more reasonable hour. Just kidding, we were up until 2am. 

Rueben sandwich from Poachers Pub

The alarm went off very early in the morning. I had to drop the rental off at the airport by 8:30. I left a little early so I could stop and get gas. Seth and Turtle picked me up at the airport and we went to town for breakfast. I have been in Telluride since Dec 2015 and have never made it to town for breakfast. It was really enjoyable and I hope to repeat the experience when I get back after the trail. We visited the local outfitter, Jagged Edge, to pick up a few items. I also needed to replace my Darn Tough hiking socks. Darn Tough has an amazing lifetime guarantee on their socks. Jagged Edge honored the warranty and gave me 2 new pairs of socks. Score! Even though I get new socks for free when on trail I still try to buy a pair or two per year from Darn Tough. I appreciate their amazing warranty, but I also like to give them my business. I got over 900 miles in on these socks. I think the 30 mile days finally was the nail in their coffin. 

The rest of the day went by quickly. Seth had to work, so Turtle and I hung out at the apartment. Turtle napped and I watched a movie on my phone. Just as my movie was done I heard a knock on the door. I was hesitant to answer, but did anyway. It was my friend Derek. He heard I was in town from Seth and dropped by to see me. I was touched by the thoughtfulness. We chatted for awhile and made plans to meet in town later that night. Turtle and I finally got motivated to leave the apartment. I think it was the hunger pains that finally got us moving. We went to the Telluride location of Taco del Gnar. This taco place is my favorite restaurant in town. I was glad that Turtle got to experience the Ridgeway and Telluride stores. Their food is beyond exceptional. After dinner we went to meet a few of my friends at a locals bar called O’Bannons, or OB’s. The plan was to have one drink and go home. Well if you are my friend and live in Telluride, you know that that almost never happens. Derek, Johnny, and Jess(close friends of mine) all showed up and we found ourselves hanging out until almost midnight. We were well behaved thru-hiker’s and had a lot of fun. We got back to Seth’s apartment shortly before he got home from work. Turtle went to sleep almost immediately and I stayed up way too late talking to Seth. 

The alarm went off really early again this morning.  Seth drove us up to the market to meet our ride to Pagosa Springs. I’m very pleased to announce that Mangas is rejoining us to hike for a few weeks! His wife Julie and dog Leo joined us for the ride to Pagosa. Julie and Leo will drive us to the trailhead in the morning before returning home. We got to see a little of the smoke from the 416 fire near Durango, CO. This fire is of particular concern to us. It is threatening part of the cdt. The fire has already burned over 7,000 acres and is only 10% contained. High winds and low relative humidity are not in our favor. 

Leo and I

Once we reached Pagosa, Mangas dropped Turtle and off of at our hotel. I had left a box of stuff that I didn’t need for the desert at the front desk. I went through my food resupply and decided what to keep and what to use for the next section. Then I went for a milkshake. Sorting food and making decisions makes me hungry. Mangas picked us up a little later and took us to the post office. I had several packages waiting for me there. I got a new pair of shoes. My first pair lasted over 900 miles. That is the longest any shoe has ever lasted me on trail. The Altra Lone Peak 3.5’s are fantastic. They didn’t tear in the usual spot all of my other trail shoes have. The only reason I replaced them was because the tread was completely worn down. 

New shoes(red) and old shoes(blue) 

I picked up an ice ax and microspikes at the P.O.  I really wish I had them the first time around in Colorado. I also got some waterproof socks, which would have been great for the first 11 miles of the flip. I got some warmer base layers, a beanie, a new pillow(my old one finally kicked the bucket). My pack is going to be ridiculously heavy, but at least I don’t have to carry a bear canister like I had to do on the pct. I also sent home a lot of little things to try and make room for the new items. Hopefully I can send home the ice ax in the next 100 miles. After the post office we went for a late lunch/early dinner. The Riff Raff Brewery was just as good as last time we were here. I had the same exact thing as last time, a bacon cheddar burger with bbq pulled pork and a jalapeƱo margarita. As of 8:30pm I am all packed up and ready to go. Let’s hope things go smoother this time around. 

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”
 –Lao Tzu



  1. Am amazed there was even bus service between Lander and Riverton. Some anxious moments there. And thank goodness for Lori getting you to the airport to get the rental car. Wishing you and Turtle well as you continue the journey. Nice to have Mangas along for a while.

  2. A lot of planning to do a flip/flop. Hope the fire doesn’t have you rerouting.
    Thanks to Alex, Lori, other couple for their kindness. Glad the policeman was just checking on you. The last of Teluride for a few months. Nice that Mangas can get back on trail for awhile. Thanks to Mrs. Mangas and Leo for the hitch, again. Happy trails. LU Oh, Informative blog!

  3. Lots of planning, some strokes of luck, a dash of persistence , flexibility, kindness given and received, friendships and a joyful heart! Just a few things I hear coming through in your wonderful blog post along with fun pics! Go Yoda!