Friday, February 11, 2022

Day 53: The Chama train! Communal dinners! And more!

June 12: Today would officially be a zero day for me, but that didn't mean I didn't have chores to do. After sleeping in appropriately late, I walked to the other side of town to the laundromat and settled in to do some laundry. Rumors had it that the owner of the motel would give people rides to the location--it was a solid one or two miles away, but I didn't mind the walk. I wasn't carrying a full pack or anything and it was a completely and totally flat route that involved no snow, no mud and no blowdowns. Easy peasy! I liked to stretch my legs a bit, but most thru-hikers aren't like me and would complain if they had to cross the street to reach a destination. The last thing they want to do on a zero day is walk more than an hour round trip to do laundry! Me...? I was game. *nodding* =) At least on a zero day when I had plenty of time and wasn't tired of walking already.

Laundry is always an important trail town task. *nodding*

So I walked over alone and started a load of laundry. Since the motel didn't have wi-fi, I brought my laptop with me so I could do some real work. First at the laundromat if they had wi-fi (which they did), then I planned to go out for lunch to a location that also had wi-fi. 

Halfway through the cycle, Evenstar and Wi-fi arrived to do their own laundry after snagging a ride to the laundromat, so then I set the laptop aside and chatted with them for a bit.

After my laundry finished, I headed back into the center of town to check out the steam-powered tourist train. It was the Cumbres and Toltec Train, a tourist trap and scenic railroad. The train ran up and over Cumbres Pass. I actually saw the smoke from the train powering up the pass as I hitched a ride down yesterday, and I wondered what its schedule was. There was a train stop directly at Cumbres Pass near where I got off and I thought it was a brilliant way to get back to the trail--ride the steam train!

I had hoped to ride this train back to the trail at Cumbres Pass on Monday, but alas, it didn't work out. =(

So I headed to the train station to look into tickets. I needed to know two things in particular: the schedule and the price. The woman manning the desk (womaning the desk?) told me the price--after accounting for the fact that thru-hikers got a special discount. Really?! Sweet! Awesome! I failed to note the price in my journal, but it turned out to be about $50 if I recall correctly for a one way ticket from Chama to Cumbres Pass. A bit more than I really wanted to pay, but definitely within my budget. And come on--it was a steam train! I wanna ride a steam-powered train! When would I get another chance? Sign me up!

I told the woman I'd like a ticket for Monday--two days from now. Tomorrow was Sunday and the post office wouldn't be open to mail my laptop ahead. And anyhow, rumors that the snow in Colorado was still bad had me in no rush to get out of town quickly. The hotel was cheap and I was comfortable. And Chama really was a cute little tourist town. Nope, sign me up for two zero days! "I'll leave on Monday," I told the woman.

Which is when the bad news hit--the train didn't run on Mondays. It was the only day of the week that it didn't run. *big sigh* I thought about maybe leaving tomorrow instead, but I really needed to get some work done on my laptop. Maybe I could leave on Tuesday instead? But taking 3 consecutive zero days seemed a little extravagant, so I left empty-handed. I still planned to leave town on Monday, but the idea to get back on the trail by riding a train was out. I'd have to hitchhike instead.

Then I headed over to the post office which was open for a few hours since it was a Saturday to pick up flat-rate boxes for packing my laptop in later.

I walked through the rest of Chama, doing a bit of window shopping and exploring before finally returning to the motel where I learned from Evenstar that a communal dinner was going to be prepared for the night. Evenstar had a fancy room that included a little kitchenette and it would definitely be cheaper to buy food at the grocery store and prepare it ourselves. And... it would be fun! =)

Evenstar planned to be the cook, and she planned enough food for it to feed Wi-fi, Goose, Skunkbear and myself. Skunkbear showed up in town today and this was the first time I met her. I didn't know it at the time, but I'd get to know Skunkbear a lot better over the next week or so--as will you if you continue reading my blog. ;o) 

The main thing I learned about her today was that she liked to draw cartoons and had a small notebook with trail-related cartoons that she made on the trail. I looked through it and was absolutely stunned at how good they were. "Wow!" I told her. "These are really good!" They were drawn with pens, but also colored in with watercolors or something and looked really professional.

She thanked me for the complement but seemed a bit shy about my gushing praise, as if she thought it was nothing special. It was only later that I learned her drawing wasn't just a hobby, but also her job. She was actually a professional cartoonist! When I learned that, I felt a little silly being so amazed at her artwork. It looked so professional because she was an actual professional! And she knew the whole time! Her cartoons have even been published in The New Yorker! Seriously... total professional!

That's my dinner on the table. I provided the dips in the background for the chips. That's Skunkbear on the other side of the table, who I didn't really know much about except that she could draw cartoons very well!

Anyway.... back to dinner. Dinner consisted of spaghetti, veggies, sausage and some chips and dip. I ran across the street to the grocery store to buy the dips to feel like I contributed something to the meal, but I didn't make anything. It was a great dinner, though.

As dinner was being prepared, it seemed like hikers were coming off the trail in droves. Several more arrived off the trail throughout the evening, but there wasn't enough food for all of them. They were on their own for the most part. The meal was prepared with the expectation of 5 people eating, not 10! I was a little surprised at the number of hikers showing up in town, in fact. Where did they all come from? Why hadn't I been seeing more people on the trail?

While eating dinner, Goose was telling us that he was thinking about hitchhiking ahead to Pagosa Springs in order to pick up his ice axe and micro spikes which he had had sent to him there. Rumor was that there was some bad snow between here and there and he was a little nervous about the idea of going into it unprepared. So he figured he'd hitch into the next town, pick up his gear, then hitch back and continue hiking. I told him I didn't think the extra gear was necessary--not yet, at least. Pez was still ahead of us on the trail and providing updates when he could get a signal, and it didn't sound too bad yet. Plus, lots of hikers had definitely made it through the next section without any winter gear at all. I said that I didn't think the effort of hitching into the next town to pick up a maildrop then hitching back was worth the effort.

Of course, I had had my micro spikes mailed to me here in Chama. I didn't have my ice axe mailed to me--I hoped to do without that completely--but the micro spikes were small and light enough (note that I said small and light enough--not that they were actually small or light!) that I felt they were worth the effort. If I didn't have them, however, I'd have still continued down the trail without them. So I guess I was being a bit hypocritical when I suggested he didn't need the winter gear even though I had some, but I would have totally suggested him taking it if he had shipped them to Chama. I just didn't think it was worth the effort to hitch into the next town simply to pick them up.

Anyhow... the dinner was a great success and a lot of fun!

After the party broke up, everyone returned to their respective rooms, but I grabbed my laptop and headed to the visitor center down the block and across the street which had a wi-fi connection available. The visitor center had long since closed for the day, but the wi-fi was always on so I planted myself on a bench outside and made myself comfortable, spending a few hours there catching up with some work before heading back to my room and calling it a night. The day was finally done!


Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

I am really looking forward to your blog about the trail conditions from Chama thru to the Creed area as that is the area of the CDT where NOBOs seem to traditionally have the most trouble with winter/snow conditions.

Michael said...

I agree Lou! It's like an impending doom that's been building up for weeks now.