Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Day 79: The Silverthorne Alternate

July 8: Today's breakfast at the hostel was hash browns and scrambled eggs, and I filled up with all I could eat. It was time to get back on the trail again, and I wanted to start with a full stomach!

After packing up the rest of my gear, I headed into town to catch the first of three buses back to the REI where I had left the trail. The first bus would take me from Breckenridge to Frisco, and I was a little annoyed to see it pulling out just as I was arriving. Arrgh! I missed the bus by mere seconds! I hadn't looked at a schedule before arriving. The buses ran every half hour so my plan had just been to show up and wait until whenever the next bus arrived, but it was immensely annoying to actually see the bus I wanted driving off without me!

Riding the bus! Exciting times!

So I waited a half hour for the next bus to arrive, which dropped me off in Frisco. Before jumping on the second bus, I stopped at Walmart to resupply for the upcoming section. Having visited the store a couple of days earlier, I already knew the layout of the store and the resupply went quickly and efficiently. Outside of the store, I repacked the food in my pack, then hoofed it back over to the bus stop where, once again, I saw my bus pulling off just as I was approaching. 

Not again! Noo! I may have spit out a curse or two. My timing seemed immensely poor today. Actually, it seemed like it was a continuation from my ride to Breckenridge two days earlier since the last bus I needed into Breckenridge had done the same thing. It was now three times in a row I happened to arrive just as the bus I wanted was pulling out, then had to wait the full half-hour for the next bus. The buses seemed cursed! Or maybe I was cursed.

The second bus, once I got on it, took me into Silverthorne, where I transferred to the Dillon bus and back toward the REI. This time, I only had to wait a couple of minutes. The curse had been lifted! I think the buses are timed to make connections between them fast and easy, and my downfall had been to stop and resupply so the timed connections weren't particularly useful for my purposes.

Looking at the maps, I was kind of kicking myself for having left the trail at the REI. To get back onto the "proper" trail, I needed to get to the other side of Interstate 70, but I only just realized today that to do so, I actually needed to walk back to Silverthorne to go through the underpass. If I had realized this earlier, I would have preferred walking to Silverthorne two days earlier. That would have saved me the effort of taking the bus from Dillon to Silverthorne then, and it would have saved me the effort of taking the bus from Silverthorne to Dillon today. I'd have been only two bus rides away from Breckenridge instead of 3. Much more efficient! But I didn't realize at the time I'd have to walk back into Silverthorne, *grumbling* But I was committed to keeping my footsteps connected, so I continued taking the buses all the way to Dillon to continue my hike, then just walking back to Silverthorne to hook up with the Silverthorne Alternate.

Crossing under I-70

Between all the buses and the resupply--and the waiting for the buses--it took me a few hours to get back on track and start actually walking. I walked the couple of miles back to Silverthorne next to a miserable, busy road clogged with traffic then finally reached an underpass that allowed me to cross to the north side of Interstate 70.

By this point, it was around lunchtime, so I decided to stop at the Wendys by the interchange for a quick lunch. The place was packed with customers, though, and I felt a little claustrophobic and disoriented there. 

Before leaving civilization, I pulled out my phone and tried giving the Leadville post office a call, but the line was busy. What the hell was wrong with this place?! Argh! Unable to do anything about my package sitting there, it would just have to continue collecting dust. For the time being, at least. I was a little annoyed that there was basically zero chance of it catching up to me in the next trail town now.

And after eating lunch, I was finally ready to head back into the woods for a little peace and quiet. I followed a few minor roads to the edge of town where I reached a trailhead and was once again back on a proper trail.

Looking back toward Silverthorne on my way out of town

From there, the trail rose a steep 3,000 feet to the high point for the day, and loaded with with my recent resupply and a full belly, it took a bit longer than I expected.

Early in the afternoon, menacing clouds blew in which squeezed a few drops of moisture out of the air, but not enough to make me pull out my umbrella for use. 

The alternate followed the route to Ptarmigan Peak, and I passed several day-hikers coming back from the peak. A couple of trail joggers also passed me going up the trail as well.

Just before reaching the peak, my route turned off onto what essentially was a cross-country route marked by little more than an occasional cairn. I often had trouble following the trail and losing it completely at times. It followed near the top of a ridge. Not at the top of the ridge, but generally near the top for several miles. The views were awesome and spectacular, and I rather enjoyed it except for the lack of a real trail. Once I turned off that main trail to Ptarmigan Peak, I saw nobody else for the rest of the day.

Nice views looking back toward Dillon Reservoir!

Once I reached Ptarmigan Pass, the trail descended steeply thousands of feet to the South Fork of the Williams River and my destination for the night. It was located at the bottom of a valley covered with trees and well-protected from the elements.

I had to ford the river to get across it, so I decided to cross it this evening rather than in the morning. Immediately upon crossing it, I would find a place to camp and take off my wet shoes so they would have all night to dry--a much better option than fording the creek in the morning and having completely soaking wet shoes to hike in! I had no doubt that there would be campsites available on both sides of the river. It was pretty much the only flat spot to camp between the highly exposed Ptarmigan Pass and the river, and everyone always liked to camp near water anyhow.

I forded the river and found a suitable campsite on the other side in mere seconds. It was 7:45pm--quite a bit later than I typically set up camp, but not a particularly big deal either.

I set up camp under the branches of a large tree which I hoped would help prevent condensation forming on my during the night since I did not plan to put up my tarp. The tree was located adjacent to a small meadow, though, allowing a lot of the fast-dwindling light into the camp and giving me a bit of a view of the surrounding mountains.

Still feeling relatively full from my massive breakfast and lunch, and the fact it was already so late in the evening, I decided to skip the hassle of cooking dinner and opted for a couple of light snacks instead.

My plan was to camp somewhere near the bottom of this valley, near that flat meadow hidden partly behind that tree on the left.

Shortly after sunset, I heard what was unmistakably a large animal lumbering through the brush. I looked up and saw a moose--a moose!--following the trail down toward the river to cross. I grabbed my camera and tried to take some photos and videos, but they turned out absolutely horrible. The sun had already set so darkness was quickly enveloping everything. It wasn't dark dark, not yet, at least, but the light had definitely faded significantly. My photos turned out to be little more than blurry smudges. It was immensely disappointing for me. =( The moose had probably walked no more than 50 feet from my campsite, and I could see it quite well with my own two eyes, but my camera was not up to the task.

"You couldn't have come through a half hour earlier?!" I shouted out at the ungainly beast.

He ignored me, however, and continued down the trail and across the river and was soon out of view again. I might not have gotten any decent photos out of his visit, but at least I could finally say that I saw a moose on the CDT! I wanted to text Pez and let him know, and maybe rub it in a bit. =) But I didn't get a cell phone signal down in this valley. It would have to wait until later....

And with that, another day ended.

It's a moose! I swear it is!

1 comment:

GG said...

It might be a tad expensive, but I wonder what would have happened if you had sent a certified letter to the Leadville PO Postmaster asking to have your parcel forwarded.