Total Miles: 674.7
There’s an art to performing the perfect near-o. It takes just the right mix of near-zero miles (hence the name “near-o”), but also a healthy dose of town food and, potentially, transportation to or from the trail. Nail all three, stick the landing and you have yourself a textbook near-o. Limit the miles to less than five and you’ve got what our good friend Gazelle would lovingly call a “hard near-o”. Sometimes taking short mileage days very seriously is where it’s at. After all, when should food and relaxation not be taken seriously?
We decided to sleep in this morning and walk to the cafe a few doors down from the motel for coffee and breakfast. Part one of the textbook near-o? Check. With the next stretch running out of trees to hammock in only 8 miles from where we’d left it yesterday morning, we’d plan to hike only that far. Low mileage? Check. Now for that third part…
Taking up our now familiar position at the side of the road with thumbs in the air, we watched a steady string of cars pass us by before one pulled a u-turn to pick us up. Christie, a town commissioner in Lake City gave us what is without a doubt the most engrossing hitch we’ve had to date. Working in local government in such a small town in such a rural county, it was fascinating to hear the behind-the-scenes politics on issues such as the use of OHVs (off-highway vehicles) on the town roads, and the libertarian undercurrent surrounding issues such as the mandated use of face masks in all public places. When we finally arrived at the pass, it was almost sad to be over so enjoyable was the conversation. As we said our goodbyes expecting her to continue down the highway to her destination, she got in the car and turned right around to head all the way back to Lake City. She’d taken a 35-mile roundtrip for no reason other than to help see us back to the trail. Now that’s kindness.
Our return to the trail just so happened to coincide with the triumphant return of the Colorado weather we’d enjoyed until last week. With only one more town stop before we hit the Colorado-New Mexico border, it’s looking like a bright finish to a state that has delivered on some incredible trail miles.
Rising back up from the pass, the form of the San Juans came into view but not before we heard what sounded like, well, a radio station blasting rock and roll. As we all turned to look at each other and make sense of what we were hearing the radio station came into focus: not rock and roll, but the bleating of hundreds of sheep who appeared equally puzzled by what they saw coming down the trail toward them. Whose trail is this anyway?
Latitude/Longitude: 37.91053, -107.28766