Arriving at Monarch Pass, I made my way to my next trail town, Salida, for resupply.
Wanting to get into town earlier, rather than later, I left camp shortly after 7, to mostly cloudy skies and a cold, sometimes windy morning.
The trail itself was generally fairly easy to hke, and I made good time. From the shelter, the trail headed uphill for the first mile and a half, climbing above the tree line and giving views of the nearby mountains.
A couple of times, the trail came fairly close to snow, but either the snow did not cross the trail, or was easy to avoid, so today was the third day in a row where I didn’t have to touch snow.
After reaching the top of a ridge and bouncing along the side of a mountain for a while, the trail gradually began its decent towards Monarch Pass. A couple miles from the pass, the trail turned into a dirt road.
As I descended, I passed a trail maintainer who was heading up to work on another trail. At a junction with another road (that goes to the summit of Monarch Crest, where there are several communication towers and an observation platform) were two trucks from a trail maintenance crew and another maintainer.
A little while later, two mountain bikers passed, the first I’ve seen in Colorado. (From Simple’s comments in New Mexico, I expected to see a lot more. Maybe it was still a little early in the season.)
Given I was hiking to Monarch Pass, I vaguely assumed that there would be a plethora of monarch butterflies. (This assumes that the pass is named after the butterfly, which I don’t actually know for certain.) I think I saw one or two today, but nowhere near what I was expecting. (I saw more other types of butterflies, but even then not that many.) Probably it isn’t their migratory season yet. In any case, there was a significant lack of butterflies, and I was a bit disappointed.
I reached the pass around 9:30, and saw another hiker get picked up for a ride into town almost immediately; I took that to be a positive sign.
At the pass, a gondola lift was in operation, taking visitors up to and down from the observation platform at the to of Monarch Crest.
Also at the pass was a gift shop with food; I went in to get a second breakfast before trying to hitch down. Inside; they also had a small area “set aside” for hikers to drop their packs while in the store. I took advantage of a power outlet there to charge my phone and watch, which I only got charged to half full last night before my battery ran out of power. There were also a few other hikers here, but they’d either just come back froM town, or were only just passing through.
I got a breakfast burrito. While I was waiting, an older lady, winded, asked if she could sit down at the table. It turned out that she and her husband’s were also from Maryland. Now living in Colorado, they had just driven back from MD, and the elevation change had left her a little short of breath from quickly walking into the shop from their car.
After resting (and eating) in the shop for an hour, I went back outside to hitch a ride into town. It was surprisingly quick, not even five minutes before I got a ride, from Brian, who was moving some things (including a snowmobile) in preparation for going to Chile for two weeks for work.
Once we got to town, I booked a room at the Salida Hostel, and Brian dropped me off there. My room wasn’t ready yet, but I was able to take advantage of the common area. I sat down on the couch, relaxed for a while, and charged my phone.
After a few hours, I got hungry, so I took the advice of the bikers I met yesterday, and went to Mo Burrito. It was good advice, the food there was pretty good.
I also wanted to get a new pair of shoes, because both of mine have holes in them, probably due to all of the snow and ice in the San Juans. I checked out a few different outfitters, and none of them had my type of shoe. I did get a new fuel can, though.
Next, I stopped at Safeway to do my resupply for the next two sections: from Salida to Twin Lakes, and from Twin Lakes to Breckenridge. Because there isn’t much of anything in Twin Lakes besides the general store, I’m sending a box there.
On my way back to the hostel with my food, I passed by two deer munching on grass in front of someone’s house.
Hungry, I ordered pizza and beer from Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub. This was the first time I’ve ordered beer to be delivered, which was a bit of a novelty. The whole thing wound up being somewhat expensive, but I just didn’t feel like going out to a restaurant for dinner.
I’m a little on the fence about whether or not I want to zero in Salida tomorrow. One of my feet has been hurting the last couple of days, but I think it might just be that my boot is laced up too tightly. If I do zero, I’m probably going to move to the other (cheaper) hostel in town. But, I also feel like I’ve been going a bit slow lately, and I’d really rather make progress, rather than zero. Assuming I don’t zero here tomorrow, my next day off is most likely going to be in Breckenridge in another week or so. Either way, tomorrow morning, I need to repack my resupply, and mail off a box to Twin Lakes.