New Mexico. Aliens and green chiles. What more can you ask for? (A big ol’ burrito to smother with said delicious chiles). These little spicy, tasty morsels are such a dietary staple in this state that you can deliciousfy your Big Mac or Whopper atop them. This place is special. As a white person, I’m as out of place as an ash tray in a 2019 Mercedes Benz… I love it.
But before we delve too deep into the “Land of Enchantment”; we just finished up a state. So let’s first give Colorado it’s well deserved recognition in this installment of…
Colorado State Roundup!
Best Hiking: All of it. There’s a reason every PataGucci wearing granola eater wants to move out here. It’s that beautiful.
Best Trail Town Bar: Urlls Tavern (How to pronounce the name: put your tongue on the roof of your mouth and say “Earle”) in Winter Park. Reason? The DJ was a… Shaman. Only in Colorado.
Best Trail Town:
1st Place – Salida
2nd Place – Creede (Can you take me HIGHER?!)
Stories on each below to justify these prestigious rankings.
Alright, before any other “songs” from Creed’s Greatest Hits gets stuck in my head, let’s move on to the main attraction…
⁃ Ever wondered if you’ve done a tiny one-bar town right? Here’s a good sign: When you’re walking to eat breakfast (at the same bar because it’s the ONLY place in town) and a local in a rusty pickup truck honks and yells “Heard y’all had a big time last night!” as they drive away. We have no idea who this “mystery” person is.
⁃ It starts hailing one day (my personal favorite type of precipitation) while we’re high on a ridge. The wind is driving like a bat out of hell and feels like it’s slamming the hail into us unnecessarily hard. My legs are exposed (because I’m the genius wearing shorts in a hail storm) and by the time it subsides they are bright red. Instinct informs me to poke them out of curiosity and I realize there is absolutely no feeling in them. Lesson learned: a hail storm is an alternative to whiskey if you need to get those legs good and inhibition-free for the wedding dance floor.
⁃ We venture into an empty bar one night. Before turning around to leave, we ask the bartender (after she finishes a phone call) if they are still open. She throws her arms in the air and responds with “Well that phone call was me getting fired so how about a round of shots on the house?!” We make friends with Rhonda quicker than a hiker running out of sight when nature calls. She lets us DJ, crank the music as loud as we want, and fire up the dance floor lights. After the dance party and helping her close up the bar, we hop in the back of her truck bed and head down the road to the only other bar in town… determined to find her a new bartending job.
⁃ One of the many ways we make every day competitive: Dry Feet Challenge. Each creek crossing transforms into an obstacle course… deciphering a sequence of rocks that allows you to reach the other side with dry feet. They call me “Kitty Cat” for my combination of grace and being utterly terrified of getting wet. Meow.
⁃ We are in Salida, Colorado for some down time. During said time, we somehow manage to crash 3 weddings and 1 funeral. Well… kind of. The funeral was for the bartender’s 30s and we were removed from the first two weddings within 30 minutes after they realized that we were the source of the unpleasant (that’s an understatement) smell.
⁃ Note to everyone at home in Alabama: Sleeping in 27 degree temps while your tent ices over when all of your friends at home are complaining about it “being too hot” (all I’m hearing there is “It’s perfect boat weather right now!”) on social media is EXCRUCIATING.
⁃ Upon arriving in Creede (Can you take me HIGHER?! Never gets old…) Colorado, we are informed that CDT hikers are allowed to camp on the local baseball field free of charge. We decide to grab some dinner before heading to our bum-life reality. As soon as we sit down at a table in the bar, they announce that it is trivia night. Better believe that we are sticking around for this. Since there is limited room, a few locals ask if they can sit at our table and join our team. Always say “Hell yeah!” to locals. They quickly find out what we are doing (due to questioning why we smell sooo bad) and one of the guys points to his buddy and says “You guys should totally stay with Goldie! He has a huge house and plenty of room!” Goldie looks back at his buddy with a “What the hell man?!” look. We diffuse the situation and pretend we are totally fine sleeping at the baseball field. However, we butter him up for a while, and the night ends something like this… Goldie is wearing my pack around the bar, joking that he was walking from Canada to Mexico, and all of us going back to his log cabin mansion up on a hill to drink some good whiskey and crash for the night.
⁃ I’ve seen a grand total of 3 bears on this entire trip. All 3 of those bears were on the same day. The exact same thing that happened on the Pacific Crest Trail. It just goes to show… things that can eat you come in threes.
⁃ Our reputation with locals strikes again… We are pretty deep into the wilderness on a 100 mile stretch between towns. Coming from the opposite direction, up rides two Native American hunters on horses touting bows. It was like a scene from a culturally inappropriate movie happening in real life… The younger one of the two immediately says “Weren’t you guys in the bar in Chama last week?” We fall out laughing and respond “Yeah! Were you?!” He cracks up and replies “Oh yeah! You guys were tearing it up!”
Goodness gracious, look at the time. We’re on the home stretch and I’ve got to get moving. We only have 534 miles left on this hootenanny of a walk. By the next time you hear from me, I’ll be crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on this thing. If you don’t hear from me, the aliens (or rattlesnakes) got me. Until then…
Do what you love,