Plan A stands!
Felix just talked on the phone to Barbara. He got her phone number from the local grocery store.
Barbara seems to run a private shuttle service and will drive us to Denver tomorrow. It will be a four hour ride and it is expensive, but it seems the only logic thing to do for the time being. Once in Denver, we plan to spend the night in a hostel and get a Greyhound up North to Steamboat Springs.
We meet Barbara at the Diner here in Saguache.
“Hi Barbara, nice to meet you”.
We try to load our packs and ourselves into her car, but we have to shuffle a lot of her stuff away from the seats and trunk first to make some room for us.
This car is a mess! Loaded with junk!
Off we drive, towards Denver.
Barbara turns out to be a terribly bad driver! For one thing, she keeps fiddling with her phone, she can’t drive in a straight line and constantly swerves, she is very edgy and changes her seating position all the time (to yoga style!). She gets out of her shoes and socks while driving and is constantly over the speed limit, and, for good measure, she drives up super close to the cars in front of us!
I glance at my watch. Oh dear, only 30 minutes have passed so far. We need to sit in this kamikaze vehicle for another 3.5 hours!!
I seriously already see ourselves in an ER somewhere, best case…
Halleluja! We arrive in Denver. To my surprise still alive and kicking! That was without any doubt the worst car ride in my entire life!
But, strangely enough, we indeed made it!
Ha! So we are in Denver now! Who would have thought we will end up in bloody Denver!!
We make excellent use of the city life: dinner at a bar and movie watching in a historic cinema. (We watch the new movie about Nureyev “The White Crow” which I enjoy greatly!)
(“Mum, you should definitely go and watch it once it will be in the cinemas in Basel!”)
Alright, let’s walk through the city to the Greyhound bus station.
The ride seems smooth, we even get a pee stop where everyone can leave the bus for 15 mins.
But the real work starts now that we arrive in Steamboat Springs: we have to hitch around some more steep snowy mountains and get to Highway 70.
We know there will be a 13 mile stretch of snow first, but from there it will be snowfree for about 9 days worth of hiking (aka we will hike the infamous Wyoming desert section, aka “The Great Divide Basin”.
But first things first, we have a complicated hitch in store (aka hitch via several different roads and towns), so we better make a sign, to show we are hikers and not homeless people.
First hitch goes smooth! A local guy with lots of fishing gear in his trunk pics us up. He is on his way home. After Felix tells him what we are doing, the guy spontaneously decides to drive us 20 miles further then where he lives, just to make our lives easier. He drops us off at a gasstation. Thanks man! That was super nice and generous of you!
Now we wait at the crossing for the next ride (which will hopefully get us into Wyoming).
A very young hippie guy walks towards us:
“Hi dudes, whatts’up? Do you pay some gas money? I would drive you over to Wyoming. I don’t really need to go there but I would drive you there, its about a one hour drive from here.”
“Sure man! Thanks!”
We get into his car and Felix whispers to me: “the adventure continues”….
The guy turns out to be good fun and super nice, and I swear, he is the “real life version” of Jessie Pinkman!
He tells us lots about his life. I love the way he talks, the slang he uses and I just constantly think Jessie is talking to us.
Oh man, he is so young and has gotten himself into quite some trouble already!
He drives us, as promised, up and over the border into Baggs, the first tiny town after the border.
We are in Wyoming!
“Thank you man! I will never forget this ride with you!”
I do meet people while hitchhiking I would otherwise never have the chance to meet! Thruhiking without hitchhiking would a) not be possible and b) not be the same!
Well, so far so good, we again stand at the road with our sign.
We get a short ride from two very silent men.
They drop us off in a super super tiny town called Savery. Population: 25
Yes, this can happen when hitchhiking!
“Now we really are stuck in the middle of nowhere”, Felix figures.
We stand at the road again.
We wait again.
5 cars per hour pass by, one of which is a FedEx van, one is a UPS van!
Since there seems to be a museum here, we might as well check it out, and see whether we can perhaps chat up somebody there who might give us a ride for the last somewhat 20 miles to our destination.
Museum is cute, but no luck with the chats, so we go back to the road and stick out our thumbs again.
An elderly local chats us up. Felix asks him:
“do you by any chance know somebody around here who would take us up to the pass? We pay cash!”
“Hmm, you guys pay cash? I can drive you up there, wait here, I get my car”.
And so it happens! Our final hitch we get from this super friendly 85 year old guy who has lived out here for all his life:
“you guys are absolutely crazy to want to hike from Bridger Pass! There is a shit-ton of snow up there still!”
Well anyway, he drives us up to Bridger Pass. 3’300 Meter.
Yup. There is a shit-ton of snow up here indeed.
But we know it’s just a lot of snow. No steep slopes, so it will be totally fine!
The hitchhiking took us all day, so we set up camp soon.
Yeay! Camping on the cold snow, in the wind, with my ultra light summer tent!
Freezing cold night.
Great early morning light!
Now let’s hike over this snowcowered mountain!
So far it’s awesome!
We sink in a lot though (aka post-holing) which makes the hiking super slow and exhausting.
We reach the top!
Holy hell its cold and windy up here! And fog seems to come in.
My shoes, socks and feet are deepfrozen! Imagine you hike a whole day with ice cubes in your boots…
We keep post-holing, hour after hour.
But don’t get me wrong! I do enjoy this anyway! It’s amazing and I am glad I can do this without fear! It’s something to remember forever!
I look back and see Felix sink into the snow BIG time.
“Heidi, I am completely stuck! I can’t move my foot and leg anymore!”
He tries to dig himself free with his ice axe. I first take a picture (!) and then help him to free his leg.
“I now got a tiny glimpse of how it must feel like to be stuck in an avalanche!”, he says. “The snow can get as hard as concrete”.
Well! Onwards we must go!
But we are finally getting ourselves into lower elevation. The snow gets patchy…
… and we eventually make it down, out of the snow, right into Spring!
(Image by Felix).
It’s GORGEOUS down here!! What a sweet treat! All these delicate little flowers all of a sudden!
We adore them loads and then go to sleep.
Brrr, it froze again last night.
We continue now towards Rawlins, which is desert territory in Wyoming.
There are clear signs of desert coming up.
Ha! This is the the land where cacti meet the snow!
It’s amazing here, we both enjoy a day of some “normal” hiking: no snow, no road-walking, a halfway obvious path (it’s still the CDT…), lots of blowdowns to climb over…
… and jaw-dropping scenery!
The open, very very huge landscape gets epic! It’s difficult to capture this vastness here with my smartphone camera, but I try:
Switzerland would fit in several times into this green huge basin!
And we see Antelopes! Lots and lots of them! They are all over the place and we love to watch them hopping around! Wow!
Unfortunately, they are too shy and too far away, so I can’t take a picture for you guys reading this.
For two days now we seem to be hiking in this enourmessly huge landscape.
Some of it we hike on trail…
… some of it off trail…
… and lots of it on dirt roads…
… and some of it on a Highway…
All the way toward desert land!
With the occasional short food-intake and quick rest break of course!
We take another of Felix’s famous shortcuts (aka “let’s try to go diagonal here”) and bump into the most amazing creatures!
(Image by Felix)
Now that is truly amazing!
(And I immediately think of Sandy:
“Sandy, you would have loved to stand here and look at these wild horses too!”)
“Oh CDT! You are harsh at times, but you have so much to offer!!”
We make it into Rawlins, hurl ourselves into the very first restaurant along the Highway and order a shit-ton of food!
Next step will be pure, raw desert and lots of road walking (and most probably thunderstorms…).
We look at the weather forecast.
“Yes, definitely thunderstorm in the next three days”.
Fuck, this will be no joke.
“The Basin” is entirely flat. We two hikers will mark the highest point out there…
(You know what that means, right?)
“Felix, I rather hang out here in town until the storms have passed”.
“Me too”, he says, “but the forecast changes all the time. It’s possible that we wait here and the storms will never come or be only small”.
We hum and haw.
I would stay and wait, Felix would go.
But I guess I am ready to face the fear.
“OK, he says, let’s stay, and hope we will have better weather in a couple of days.”
“Super! Let’s do that! My body can do with a break anyway!!”
So we will hang out here for three full days! Three days of sleeping in! Three days of coffee drinking in the morning, reading, blog writing (!), and just basically doing nothing else!
And then we will head out there into “The Basin”.
No matter what!