Monday, January 24, 2022

Day 44: Goodbye, Cuba!

June 3: I took my time leaving town. I had put Shoo-Goo on my shoes to plug some holes forming in the sides, and I figured waiting as long as possible before I had to check out of my hotel room so the glue could cure was a good thing. So I didn't leave the hotel until just before 11:00am. Hopefully the patch job would hold! At least until I reached Chama where I had a new pair of shoes waiting for me.


After checking out of the motel, I walked over to the post office to mail my laptop ahead to Chama then, being lunch time, I dropped by McDonalds for a quick meal before leaving town.

On my way out of town, I ran into Dos Equis being dropped off who, as it turned out, started the trail the same day that I did but hiked much faster and arrived into Cuba two weeks earlier. The snow, however, was so bad, he went home for two weeks while it melted and just returned to the trail today. I had taken 7 zero days so far, though, so not including those, he had still had gotten a whole week ahead of me.

Anyhow, I joked that if he planned to keep hiking so fast, I'd never see him again. And, as it turned out, except for the first several miles out of Cuba, I never did.

While Dos Equis and I were exchanging greetings, two other thru-hikers arrived: Cramps and Outlaw. We made cursory greetings, but they walked very slowly heading out of town and Dos Equis and I left them in the proverbial dust. For now, at least. I had no doubt that they'd catch up and pass me at some point.

Evenstar texted me that she had left town about an hour before I did, so I knew she was somewhere ahead. Pez, of course, hadn't stopped in Cuba and now would have been a full day and a half ahead of both of us. I wondered if we'd ever see him again.

The trail followed some paved roads out of town for several miles, and precisely where the trail veered off the paved road onto a gravel one, a trail angel had set up at the junction handing out cold drinks. Awesome! Dos Equis and I stopped to chat for a bit, and Cramps and Outlaw soon caught up who also stopped to chat for a bit. The trail angel, who introduced herself as Solo, said that she was expecting me because Evenstar told her that I'd be following behind at some point, but Evenstar didn't know about the other three so they were a pleasant surprise for her. Until the four of us arrived, Evenstar was the only other hiker she had seen all morning.

Outlaw, Dos Equis, Solo and my backpack. =)

The other three hikers eventually kept hiking, but I lingered a bit longer in no particular rush. Rumors of heavy snow in Colorado were still leaking back to us and I was in no rush to get into it. So I had another cold drink and chatted with Solo for another 10 or 15 minutes after everyone else already left.

But eventually I too had to leave and said goodbye and thanks for the trail magic, then made my way down the gravel road which soon connected with a real trail again. And the trail started heading into the mountains where the terrain was much more rugged. Definitely a lot of uphill!

It wasn't more than about an hour after leaving the trail angel that I caught up with Evenstar again, taking a break by a creek next to the trail. I stopped and we chatted for a few minutes, then when she got up to start hiking again, we continued onward. I moved considerably faster going uphill, but I knew she'd catch up again when I stopped for a break.

Evenstar climbs a steep slope!

A couple of hours later, a light sprinkle started along with thunder rolling through the mountains, but I was ready for a break anyhow so I set up my tarp in a very haphazard manner, over a log that I could sit on while taking a break. I hoped the storm would pass quickly. The weather forecast did call for a slight chance of rain, but it seemed possible that I might be able to wait it out.

When Evenstar arrived, she joined me under my tarp, where we sat around killing time for the better part of an hour waiting for the storm to pass. Then another hiker arrived: Splits. He too was a hiker new to the both of us, so we made introductions and invited him under my tarp as well. (I have a very large tarp and often joke that I could throw large parties under it during a storm.) He did stop, but chose to sit on a nearby log instead of under the haphazard setup I had with my tarp that was flapping in the breeze.

Within another 15 minutes or so, the sprinkle had finally stopped and the three of us continued onward hiking together the rest of the evening.

The meadows late in the day were just covered in these beautiful purple irises!

We finally stopped to set up camp late in the evening, just before sunset, near the San Gregorio Reservoir. Although the rain had stopped, it was poised to resume again at any time so I set up my tarp. Planning to camp under it all night this time, however, I did a decent job of setting it up unlike the haphazard job I had done before.

Shortly after setting up the tarp, it did start to sprinkle and I was happy to be dry and warm under it. I was a bit concerned when a strong wind started to pick up, but my tarp held steady and the wind didn't cause any trouble. What did cause trouble, however--somewhat indirectly--was the rain. I did a good job of setting up my tarp to keep the rain out, but worms started coming out of the ground in hoards as their homes became flooded from the rain and started invading my space! I flicked off about a dozen worms early in the night, but as darkness descended, it became harder and harder to see them. I had a headlamp which I occasionally turned on to check for more invading worms and flicked them off as necessary, but I worried what would happen when I actually fell asleep and was no longer monitoring for them. Would I wake up in the morning covered with worms? It was an unsettling thought as I drifted off to sleep....

Splits, Evenstar and I set up camp not far from the San Gregorio Reservoir.

The meadows full of irises were really the highlight of the day's hike!


Rita M said...

So DID you wake up covered in worms?!

Michael said...

> So DID you wake up covered in worms?!
Hopefully we'll read tomorrow's adventure and find out! I'm looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

Now we know the answer! See tomorrow's post.