A very short day of hiking took me to Lake City, for resupply for the next stretch to Monarch Pass and Salida.
It was warmer overnight than it had been recently, and between that and the urgency of wanting to get to the trailhead earlier to try and hitch with the morning traffic going into Lake City (and also with Tiempo’s group, which had three women, which always makes getting a ride easier), I managed to leave camp just before 7 am.
It briefly rained overnight (which was quite loud on my tent’s roof), but that seemed to have been sufficient to clear most of the smoke from the air. The wildflowers in a meadow near where I camped seem to have appreciated it; there were a lot more blooming flowers than there were last night.
I continued following the dusty dirt road for about two miles to the trailhead, a parking lot with a few passable areas for camping (which Tiempo, Windchime, Almost, and Cream had taken advantage of), and a pit toilet. Jules and Soccer Mom were already on the side of the road, attempting to get a hitch into town, so far with no success.
Tiempo mentioned that he’d heard that the smoke that filled the sky yesterday came from a fire in Flagstaff, Arizona, which, now that I’m looking at a map, is a lot closer than I’d expected. (From Lake City, Flagstaff is 340 miles away.)
So as not to overcrowd, Tiempo, Windchime, Almost, Cream, and I waited on the other side of the road while Jules and Soccer Mom attempted to get a ride. After they’d failed for at least half an hour, Windchime crossed the street to try and help them. Eventually a truck stopped (actually, it passed, and then turned around and came back to ask where they were trying to get to). There were space for three people, so I went with Jules and Soccer Mom, allowing Tiempo’s group to stay together.
Half an hour later, we were in Lake City, and we got dropped off at the Lake City Cafe. The Cafe was unfortunately closed today (and Sunday and Monday, due to understaffing), so we went next door to the American Elk bar, which also served breakfast.
Jules was not planning on staying in town, rather he wanted to get back out to the trail. Soccer Mom and I were staying. After breakfast, my first stop was to the Raven’s Rest Hostel. There was some question as to whether or not it was open, but that was settled when I got there. I ran into its owner, Lucky, who confirmed that it had just reopened for the season yesterday!
I dropped my pack inside, and walked to the (closer) south end of town to the general store, which didn’t have much at all in the way of food; and then walked to the north end of town to the actual grocery store. I was able to get almost everything I needed. I took most of the store’s remaining Clif and Snickers bars, and had to settle for lesser macaroni and cheese than I usually get. I skipped on the tuna because all they had were flavored tuna, and double-sized packets that I didn’t want; instead, I got a couple of pouches of spam.
I returned to the Raven’s Rest to get a shower, which was much needed after all the dust I walked through yesterday.
Also at the hostel were Lux and Snoop, a couple who’d met on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2019. There was one other hiker here when I got in, but they’d left by the time I returned from the grocery store. With only three people here tonight, I’ve never stayed at a hostel with so few people. Since there are two bunk rooms, we all essentially have private rooms.
On Lucky’s recommendation, for dinner, I went to the Packer Saloon for a burger, then returned to Raven’s Rest to repack my food.
The rest of the evening was low-key, and I mostly relaxed.
Tomorrow, I begin the six or seven day hike to Monarch Pass and the next trail town, Salida.