Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Day 85: Reunion with Evenstar!

July 14: My original plan for the day had been to keep hiking, but the weather forecast suggested rain and thunderstorms later so I figured why not take a day off? The next section of trail where I could hike between trailheads was just over 20 miles, so it's not like it was practical to do a half-day hike. Anyhow, it was my birthday today. I deserved a day off, right?

So the first thing Amanda and I did was drive back up to Grand Lake since Amanda hadn't been there yet. We found multitudes of letterboxes along the way, and drove through town along the CDT, even picking up a letterbox that was located on the CDT that I had walked by earlier completely oblivious to its presence.

When I woke up this morning, I thought there was a problem with my Garmin device. What is that?! I'd never seen it do that before! Then I realized that it's a cake. A birthday cake. Of course....

For lunch, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant named... Charlies? Charlie's Sports Bar and Grill, but it felt more like a Mexican restaurant. The name didn't seem fitting, but the food was fine. =)

Just outside of town, while looking for letterboxes--some of which had clearly burned to a crisp from the wildfires last year--we spotted three more moose around town. I was now up to 7 moose sightings in this area in the last two days! Seemed like Grand Lake had a moose problem!

Amanda and I stumbled onto three more moose around Grand Lake while looking for letterboxes. Amanda was pretty excited to see them as they were the first moose sightings for her on the trail. It's still exciting for me, but I had already seen 4 other moose just yesterday so it was less of a novelty for me.

I had still been keeping in touch with Evenstar and knew that she had just gotten off the trail. Her CDT adventures had come to an end. This had always been her plan from the very beginning, to get as far as she could before work commitments required her to get off the trail in mid-July. She made it just past Breckenridge, and her husband had driven out to pick her up. They had a few days to goof around on vacation before Evenstar would begin a NOLS course in Wyoming for a month or so.

Evenstar and her husband, Dave, were having some car problems, though, for which a new replacement part wouldn't be available until tomorrow. The mechanic they had seen said it was fine if they drove around the area, but not to travel very far. But since Amanda had a rental car, we could drive south back down to Dillon to meet up with them for dinner. I'd been hoping to meet somewhere about halfway between our locations or even let them drive up to Winter Park. I hate being in cars, after all, and the drive up to Grand Lake and back was more than enough vehicle time for me. But with their car trouble, they couldn't drive to meet up, so we would drive down.

It had been the first time I'd seen Evenstar since the day we left Chama so many weeks ago.

We had a great time catching up and sharing our war stories. Evenstar planned to return to the CDT next year to continue the hike, and I promised to "scout out the trail" and make sure it was in good shape for her. =)

Interestingly, however, Evenstar had gotten off the trail just before it was going over Grays Peak, the highest point on the CDT at 14,270 feet (4350 m) above sea level. It was rough terrain and the air was thin. I had actually missed that peak myself having taken the Silverthorne Alternate instead, but Evenstar decided to stay on the main red-line route and got off the trail just before reaching the high point.

"So," I said, "let me understand this right. When you come back next year, your first day back on the trail, you'll be heading up to the highest peak of the trail?"

"I've been thinking about that," Evenstar replied, "and I have a plan."

"I'm listening!" I was very curious where this would go.

"I'll start hiking next year at the Canadian border and go south and finish my hike by going over Grays Peak."

I thought about it for a bit, trying to think of any potential flaws in the plan, but nothing came to mind. "Yeah, I think that's pretty good plan," I told her, nodding agreeably.

After dinner, Amanda and I headed back to our Airbnb in Winter Park. Around the time we arrived, I got a text from Evenstar. The text arrived at precisely 8:10pm according to my phone, and Evenstar wrote: "I'd love to say that it was an uneventful ride back but Dave's car actually...kind of...umm...blew up? There was fire and fire trucks and police and far too much excitement for one night. Everyone's ok!"

I audibly gasped when I read I read this, and Amanda asked what happened.

"Evenstar's car.... blew up!" and I read her the text.

I texted back, asking if they took any photos or videos of the event, and she texted me a photo. In the photo, their car was parked in the middle of the road, a bit of smoke coming off of it, and two fire fighters looking under the hood which had been popped open. One of the fire fighters had a hose leading to the engine block, and the ground around the entire area was wet like it had rained, but I suspected was water from the hose flooding the ground. Well, and probably rain too. It had rained quite hard just an hour or two earlier. Behind it I could see two police cars parked at an angle, blocking road traffic.

I replied that if it was any consolation, our drive was uneventful. We even found a letterbox on the way back to Winter Park.

I guess the part they had been waiting for to fix their car wasn't necessary anymore, but that had to be the most dramatic finish I've ever heard of for someone finishing their hike!

And thus ended my zero day on the trail. Tomorrow, however, it was time to get some more trail miles in!

Evenstar and Dave had a little car trouble after dinner....


Mike said...

I'm surprised you didn't drive to Leadville to get the laptop. There are letterboxes down there too.
The next part of Evenstar's hike should start in a few weeks. I hope it goes well.

Evenstar said...

Sadly, I've had an injury since last August that is FINALLY showing signs of healing. I'm not in the kind of condition that is required for the CDT, so I'm going to work on some projects in the White Mountains (NH) and will work my way back up with my fitness so I can report for CDT duty in 2023!