Friday, March 4, 2022

Day 62: The Creede Resupply

June 21: I planned to hike into the small town of Creede, resupply, and hike out. And, if I could pull it off, my hope was to reconnect again with the red-line CDT by the end of the day--which would mean about 20 miles of hiking. It was an ambitious schedule, so I set the alarm on my phone to wake me up--something I almost never do. 

But when it went off at 5:00am, it felt miserably cold outside and I went back to sleep for another half hour. Not off to a good start....

I eventually got myself up and moving by 6:30am, and once I was moving, I moved quickly and efficiently along the well-maintained, downhill trail.

The trail eventually ended at a trailhead a few miles from the actual town of Creede, then I had a road walk the rest of the way into town. The roads weren't particularly busy so early in the morning, but there was definitely traffic, and I definitely didn't like it. From the trailhead into town, however, it took me less than an hour.

Along the way, I passed the Rio Grande river, which kind of took me by surprise. It stretches all the way into Colorado?! I always thought of it as a Texas river. Or, I thought, maybe this is a totally separate river which happens to have the same name? (I later looked it up, and no, it's the same river. The headwaters for the Rio Grande are in the nearby mountains here.) 

I really liked Creede, but I think they're overplaying their hand by calling themselves the "last" great place.

At the edge of town, I stopped at the ball park to use the restrooms. The ball park is where thru-hikers can sleep if they need it, but I didn't want to camp in the ballpark. (It was advised to camp near the side, however, since sprinkles would go off during the night.) That's why I stopped yesterday before arriving in town, and why I planned to resupply and get out before dark.

Further into town, I tried turning on my phone but didn't get any service here. Noooo!!!!! That was awfully inconvenient. But not to fear, I had a backup plan which was to use the wi-fi at the visitor's center, but that generated a "port error" when I tried it. Noooo! Okay, now things were a bit problematic. How could I connect with the outside world when both my options weren't working? The folks at the visitor's center suggested that I reset my phone--which sounded like a terrible idea to me. There's a lot of valuable and useful information on that phone that a reset would likely delete--and I was not at all convinced it would even work. I felt sure the problem was with their wi-fi connection, not my phone! So I chose not to reset it.

I gave up on that for the time being and walked further into town where I found Skunkbear sitting on a bench and talking on the phone. Her phone, at least, seemed to work! I joined her on the other end of the bench and waited for her to finish her call, then explained my communication problem and asked if I could borrow her phone for a couple of quick calls to check-in with the outside world. She said "no problem," handed over her phone. There was some additional chatter between us. She told me that her and Savage had spent the night at the ballpark, and we both complained about the blowdowns right at the start of the Creede Cut-off.

Then she asked me to watch her pack while she went to find a bathroom to make use of. No problem! I started making phone calls. Skunkbear returned as I was talking with my mom. She grabbed her pack and said she'd be shopping at the grocery store across the street.

Then Savage found me on the bench and asked if I'd watch her pack while she went to look for a bathroom. No problem. I was getting good at the job. =)

Downtown Creede

I had finished my calls by the time Savage returned, then headed over to the grocery store where I searched the aisles for Skunkbear and returned her phone and did my own resupply run since I was there. I needed enough food to last me the next few days until I reached the next trail town.

After that was done, I headed to the post office where--as expected--my package had not arrived. To remind you, I had only mailed it two days earlier, yesterday was a Sunday, and the package wasn't expected to arrive until tomorrow. So I gave them the tracking number of the package and that I wanted it forwarded to Salida when it did finally arrive, and that matter was settled.

Before leaving town, I wanted to get a real lunch with real food that wasn't carried on my back. Skunkbear recommended Kips Grill which, she assured me, had a wi-fi signal as well. Her and Savage had eaten there the night before. Awesome! I had passed it on my way into town and knew exactly where it was, but when I walked back, it was closed. When I first got into town, I had noted that it was also closed, but it was still relatively early in the morning and I figured that maybe they didn't serve breakfast so hadn't opened for the day yet. After resupplying, forwarding packages and making calls, it was now after 11:00am. Surely they'd have opened for lunch by then! But that's when I noticed the sign that the restaurant was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Noooo!

So then I walked over to the Tommyknockers bar for lunch. They were open, and when I first entered, the place was deserted. I took a seat by the window next to an outlet and plugged in my phone and battery pack to charge and found a wi-fi connection to boot. Sweet!


I ordered the San Juanwich with potato salad and a Coke. Lunch was great, and I spent a bit of time checking messages and emails and other stuff that I had neglected to do while on Skunkbear's phone. In all, I was probably there somewhere between one and two hours, but I kind of lost track of time. I do know, however, that by the time I left, the restaurant was packed with people. Every table was full. It was a good time to go.

I paid the bill, then put on my heavy pack and started walking out of town....

I haven't really said much about Creede. It has an old west kind of vibe to the town, very touristy, very kitschy. It was really quite adorable in a forgettable sort of way, but it was the walk out of town that really blew my mind. First I passed a fire station that was built underground! Rather than build a structure for their fire station, the town blasted a tunnel into a mountainside and used that to store all their vehicles and gear. There was a sign out front describing the station. I kind of wanted to walk inside and check it out, but it didn't seem like tourists were meant to wander in at random so I just took photos of the outside which was probably the least interesting part of the station.

The town's fire station is located in this tunnel. That board on the right side explains how it was built, how it's laid out inside, and why it was a cheaper and better option than a stand-alone building.

Creede was a mining town back in the day. I don't think there are any mining operations in the immediate vicinity anymore--at least not any that are particularly large or noteworthy--but it's definitely cashing in on the old mines. There was a mine tour, for instance, which I would have loved to take but it didn't appear to be running at this time due to the pandemic.

But even then, there's plenty of interesting mining history to see on the way out of town, passing by old buildings and slag heaps through an incredibly scenic canyon with dramatic cliffs. I absolutely loved it!

The trail followed a steep, gravel road past the old mines, and I found myself sweating bullets under the brutal sun. Between the heat, the heavily-loaded pack and the steep uphill, it was actually a pretty exhausting climb out of town. And, according to my topo maps, I'd have to climb about 4,000 feet (1,219 m) before reconnecting with the red-line CDT.

Those first couple of miles out of town were the best by far. After that, the trail leveled out--although still climbing steadily--and the scenery became more mundane.

I loved all the old mining stuff to see on our way out of town!

Late the day, I finally reached the pass where the alternate reconnected with the main CDT. The junction was a memorable one for me because it also marked the Colorado Trail--a trail I had done in the past. I had walked past this very junction four years earlier. Now I'd be walking through terrain I had first-hand experience with. I knew the trail towns, and I knew the trail. I remembered certain campsites and water sources. It was nice to reach familiar ground.

I basked in the accomplishment. This had been my goal--to reconnect with the CDT. Now I just needed to find a place to camp. The junction itself wasn't particularly suitable--it was at a high, exposed location, and I had to follow the CDT another 1.5 miles before it went over a ridge and descended into a small, protected area surrounded with trees. I was in a great mood and actually felt like I could have kept hiking. I still had another solid hour of daylight left, and I was tempted to push onward. The only problem with continuing, however, was that I could see the next few miles of trail where it followed along very exposed slopes that weren't suitable for camping. I didn't know how much further the next decent campsite would be--it might be another two hour hike away, and I didn't want to be hiking in the dark. So I, somewhat reluctantly, set up camp while the camping was good. 

I was pretty impressed with my day's hike, though. I still managed to cover about 21.5 miles by 6:30pm--which included a three-hour stop in Creede! I was pretty impressed with myself. =)

Late in the evening, a few other thru-hikers passed me by. I didn't know them, but there was plenty of space and I said I was willing to share, but they decided to keep going so I ended up camping alone again. I was a little disappointed about that. I had hoped to have some company, and I was very curious to hear about the main CDT route that these people had undoubtedly taken. Skunkbear and Savage were the only two other thru-hikers who took the Creede Cut-off that I knew about, and that town was small enough that if there were other thru-hikers, we probably would have ran into each other at some point. So everyone else I saw back on the main CDT I assumed probably took the main CDT the whole route.

Speaking of Skunkbear and Savage, I was a little surprised not to have run into them again either. Skunkbear looked like she was about ready to leave town when I went off for lunch so I figured she was probably an hour ahead of me. Savage (I assumed) was still hiking with Skunkbear, although I didn't know that for certain. I figured as hard as I hiked to get back to the CDT today, I'd have caught up with them or at least seen them in the distance from an exposed ridge, but they had completely disappeared. (Later, I would find out that Skunkbear had checked out the historical museum and was still in town when I left. She was behind me the whole time after I left Creede!)

Anyhow... thus ended my 62th day on the trail.....

That's the road walk into Creede. (The civilization in the photo seems to be a suburb of Creede as far as I can tell. I'm not sure if it's actually considered a separate town or not.)

The official city limits of Creede are in that canyon up ahead.

I was a little disappointed when I learned that I had missed the Donkey Dash which occurred just 8 days earlier. =(

If you're wondering what a San Juanwich is, this is it. =) Minus the potato salad which I already ate.

The skate shack was closed when I passed by, which wasn't a big surprise since there was absolutely no ice to skate on on a hot day like today!

The hike out of town was spectacular! A real delight--especially since I had no idea it was so amazing. Definitely a nice surprise for me! =)

The main CDT is up there near the top of the ridge somewhere!

At this point, I officially reconnected with the main CDT--as well as my old friend, the Colorado Trail!

I'd find a place to camp near those dead trees in the distance. (A lot of the forests in Colorado, sadly, have been decimated by beetles.)

I absolutely loved these flowers! Definitely my favorites of the trail!


-ArtGekko said...

It looks like a pretty happening town for a population of ~250! Gorgeous view both coming and going!

Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

I'm pretty sure that 250 is the winter/year-round population of Creede. It is a great place to visit in the spring and fall. Miles of old mining roads and trails to explore in the hills outside of town and lots of shops and restaurants around.

Sharon Madson said...

Great post! Thanks, Ryan.