August 18th, 2019
Mm 1533.6 to HWY 40 mm 1552.4
Distance in miles: 18.8
I’m prepared for a very cold night but it doesn’t happen. It may even be warmer when I wake up than when I went to bed. The wind dies down overnight and there’s just a crisp breeze in the morning. The sky is clear and the sun comes out to do its job. The stormy weather of the day before has just vanished.
We make our way a mile and a half to a parking lot and campground near a lake, our planned destination the day before. The cold air is trapped in this spot and it costs money to camp, so I’m glad we pulled up short. I’m still able to use the toilet there, which makes me very happy.
The route continues along an atv track that is for once in pretty good shape. It weaves along the ridges and through forest with mostly soft, loamy tread. There are some mud puddles and a few rocky sections. Then the route becomes single track, which is also really nice. It’s clear that these trails get used a lot and presently we start seeing some mountain bikers.
Steamboat Springs is just down the hill and there are many access points to the mountains here. It’s a Sunday morning and suddenly we see tons of bikers, hikers, and runners out enjoying the perfect weather. I can’t blame them, I’m enjoying it too after yesterday. It’s great to see others on the trail…so many fit, adventurous people live in Colorado.
We pass many lakes, the last being Dumont Lake. A dike runs along the edge, creating a wide, flat path that is surrounded by all the wildflowers.It looks like someone dumped fruity pebbles all over. What an incredible sight. We walk through a campground and then along the road that is the old Rabbit Ears pass. There’s a memorial stone near the parking lot to the trailhead. I’ve never been to this spot before, that I can remember, and so it requires some picture-taking.We continue down the old pass road to where it intersects hwy 40. It’s time to hitch into town, but not just any town. Steamboat Springs was like a second home to me growing up. My aunt and 2 cousins lived there and my family used to visit at least once a year. Now my cousins live in Denver but my Aunt Peggy still lives nearby. I have been looking forward to visiting and seeing her new house in Phippsburg.
She is working until the end of the afternoon so we just stick out our thumbs for a ride into town. The first vehicle to pass stops and we kind of stand for bit, dumbfounded. That was easy. A lady is driving and I don’t get her details since I sit in the back of the van on her bed. She delivers us to Backdoor Burgers, a place downtown that does really good burgers. Our hunger pains are shortly satisfied and we can focus on other things.
Relentless has a friend from the AT that lives in town, No Shoes. She meets us and shows us to her house where we wait for my aunt. She picks us up and we go to the Natural Grocer to get stuff for dinner. The rest of the night is spent just relaxing and visiting with my aunt. Her new house is lovely and very quiet. There are even cows behind her backyard fence so it feels like I’m still on the CDT.
August 19th, 2019
Zero in Steamboat
Again, I’ll combine these two days to avoid writing too much about mundane stuff on a zero day. My aunt has to go back to work at 1pm, which works out perfect for us to get things done in town. She lets me borrow her car so that we can go grocery shopping and to the gear store for a new fuel canister. We also go to the visitor’s center to get free Point6 CDT socks that they are giving away to thru-hikers. The package comes with a day pass to the town hot springs and a card for a free beer at a Mountain Tap brewery. Thanks to all the sponsors for putting together this nice thru-hiker welcome package…you and Steamboat rock!
As luck would have it, the brewery is closed on Mondays and we have already made plans with No Shoes to go to the Strawberry Park hotsprings outside of town. Oh well. We get old-fashioned sodas at Lions Drugstore instead. The place has been around with its soda fountain for over 100 years. I went there as a kid and also sat on the plastic horse outside…Steamboat is so full of nostalgia for me.
The hotspings are also a fond memory and end up being a highlight of this trip, as well. We go just after dark and feel our way along the many pools that are built in staircase-fashion next to the river bed. It’s probably the most beautiful and unique hotsprings I have ever been to. It also still maintains its policy of suits-optional after dark. I remember visiting as a child and seeing some new things!
We don’t stay too late after 10 pm and crash for the night on No Shoes’s couches. Mine is actually really comfortable and I sleep great. What a fantastic zero in Steamboat!