With all of the Colorado miles now finished, it was time today to flip back to Wyoming. When Top O' and I made our first trip there it took us a week. Admittedly, that included a zero-day in Pagosa Springs to figure out our complicated bus schedule. We also spent some restful days at the home of my PCT friends, Captain and Gilligan.
We didn't want to spend extended time off the trail like that again if we didn't have to. The problem was we were a little short-handed on options.
|Date||Wednesday, July 21, 2021|
|Weather||Clear; temperatures from the lower-50s to upper-70s|
Really, we had just one option, and it bordered on impossible. We needed to hitch a ride or rides from South Fork to where OldTimer's friend Mark lived. If we could get to that Denver suburb today, Mark was willing to drive us to Wyoming tomorrow. We had one shot at this because Mark was only available tomorrow.
His house was 245 miles away, and getting there wasn't on a typical commuter route. The chance of finding one ride to go all the way seemed unlikely, yet the alternative risked getting dropped off in some remote spot where we would sit for hours with no ride.
Top O' and I already knew how that felt. It happened to us after we got to Wyoming on Day 54. On that day, we only needed to hitch about 100 miles from Rawlins to Lander when we got stuck short of that.
Increasing the odds against us was the fact that we were three old and scraggly-looking guys. We didn't have any women with us, and let's be honest about that. It's easier to hitch a ride when there's at least one woman in the group. I know it sounds sexist, but that's how it works.
We checked out of our motel room with no idea what would happen next. We only knew we had to go about this strategically. We tried to carefully select a spot where we wanted to hitch. Getting a ride was going to be hard. It had to be done deliberately.
We walked away from a large intersection and toward a business area where drivers might already be slowing down. We then looked for where the highway shoulder widened a little extra and offered a clear view of us for on-coming traffic. At 7:20 a.m., the traffic wasn't heavy, but it seemed like it was about as heavy as it would get for this spot in rural Colorado.
After placing our packs on the ground to show we were hikers and not just transient bums, Top O' pulled out the marker board he used yesterday when we hitched to the trailhead. It didn't help us much yesterday, but we had a special touch to add today.
Top O' wrote "Denver $100" on the board. Then he held out the sign and we stuck out our thumbs.
And we waited.
And we waited.
No one stopped. We became hopeful a couple of times when we saw a driver eye us while stopping for gas across the highway, but that never resulted in someone picking us up. A couple of friendly people waved, but again, no ride.
After nearly two hours of standing there, Top O' began to get impatient and worried that our problem was because we were together. He figured if we split up, one of us was more likely to get a driver to stop and could then convince the driver to take all three of us. He decided to walk down the highway a distance.
At about that time, OT decided he should check the post office again. He had sent a pair of shoes there via general delivery, and they hadn't arrived yesterday as scheduled.
While OT was gone, Top O' called me and said he met a hiker and trail angel named Lorax. There was a chance Lorax would drive us all the way to Denver!
Finally, at least we had a possibility. Lorax said he needed to run an errand first, so it wasn't definite.
Soon after I talked to Top O', a driver stopped for me and offered to drive me as far as Alamosa. This seemed tempting because at least it was a certain ride, but it would only get us 50 miles up the road. After a moment of hesitation, I declined and thanked him for the offer.
I briefly worried I had lost our chance to at least get part of the way to Denver. That concern quickly ended when a driver pulled up a minute later and told me he was Lorax. After I climbed into his minivan, we continued up the highway to pick up Top O'. We then turned around to go back to the post office to pick up OT.
OT was unsuccessful in getting his shoes. They had been redirected for an unknown reason to Pennsylvania.
Though we were riding in a minivan, we were cramped for space. OT and I didn't have a real seat. The van was filled with camping gear and tools. Lorax completed the CDT a few years ago and now likes to drive to various spots along the trail to do trail magic and maintenance.
After a stop for gas in Fairplay and another stop for lunch at Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton, Lorax delivered us to Mark’s house.
I have no idea how we got so fortunate to make the full run to Denver in one ride. Of course, we paid for Lorax's gas and lunch and gave him some money for his time, but this was still an achievement bordering on miraculous.
I was so tired that soon after Mark showed me my room, I laid down on the bed and immediately fell asleep.
Mark, OT, and I went to dinner together, while Top O' met up with some friends who live in the area.
If today wasn't amazing enough, there was one more bit of good news. Mark said he could drop Top O' and me off at the trail at the very spot we started from when we began walking south to Colorado.
That means by late tomorrow morning, we will be hiking north again.
Otter (Tim Matheson): Now, we could fight 'em with conventional weapons. That could take years and cost millions of lives. Oh no. No, in this case, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part.
Bluto (John Belushi): And we're just the guys to do it.
Boon (Peter Riegert): Let's do it.
Bluto: Let's do it!