September 6, 2013
Cochetopa Creek to Spring Creek Pass
After a rude awakening to my alarm this morning I packed up my belongings, said my "see you laters" to Bernie and Stacey, and headed on my way. The first 14 miles of the day followed the creek up the valley. Along the way I ran into a couple section hiking the CT, a man named David aka "the French guy", and a young woman named Bambi. I had brief conversations with them all before continuing on.
Once getting into the northern end of the San Juan mountains I came across two guys, probably in their 50's, doing a section of the Colorado Trail. Their names were Treesong and Dick (no trail name). Treesong makes custom guitars out of Denver, but you can find him online as well. His belief is that when you play a guitar made from a specific tree and type of wood, you feel the energy and song of the tree, which comes through the music played with the guitar. Not too far down the trail after a couple ups and downs I ran into an Eastbound CT hiker named Diode. He seemed like he might be an interesting character, as he hiked in Crocs, but I didn't talk to him all that long with my mission of getting to the pass before a thunderstorm could build and stop me from my goal.
I got a taste of what the San Juans will be like the next few days with ups and downs and a fair amount of exposed terrain, including hiking for 4 miles across Snow Mesa, just before dropping down to the pass. It was just in time too because a thunderstorm was behind me and had been gaining ground the last hour or so.
Once at the pass I looked to see if Optimist and Stopwatch were there before trying my luck at hitching a ride into Creede. As luck would have it, a car with Oregon plates pulled into the parking area about a half hour after after I arrived. Thinking it too much of a coincidence, I figured it must be the friends of Matt and Julie's who were picking them up. I approached the vehicle and as the window rolled down I asked, "are you here for the Urbanskis?" It turns out they were and invited me into the vehicle to stay dry while waiting for Matt and Julie. Lowell and Dottie Smith had no idea who I was, and I didn't really know who they were either, but with the Urbanski's in common we had a conversation until Matt and Julie arrived right at 6. Dottie even brought homemade cookies which she kindly offered and I gladly accepted.
I didn't really know how the evening would go from there, seeing as the Smith's weren't expecting a third person. I was prepared to spend the night at a motel, however, the hospitality of Lowell and Dottie was legendary and they invited me to stay the night. Dottie prepared a wonderful meal for us all and no one left the table unsatisfied. Quite a feat considering there were three hungry hikers to feed!
The Urbanski's had their own adventure getting to the pass at the predetermined time and managed to hike eighty-some miles in 35 hours with only 45 minutes of sleep last night. And I thought I had it rough!
Tomorrow it's sleeping in a bit, picking up new tips for my trekking poles at the PO, and getting a tour of the area ravaged by the fire that came through earlier this summer before heading back to the trail.