6. Utah, Nevada, California & Colorado…May/June/July.2018

Day 38 6.27
My last day in California!  Sad to leave but Ive spent 26 glorious days in this beautiful state.  I woke early & went to Starbucks to publish the website.  I still wasnt giving up on my hunt for the ice cream bar, so after Starbucks I walked next door to the grocery store.  They only carried boxes of three, & while I knew I couldnt eat that many or keep them in my always-melting cooler, I bought the box.  I knew a lot of PCT thru hikers stop at this store, so once out on the sidewalk I started looking for scruffy, mosquito bitten, slightly dirty hikers but with big smiles.  I found a girl sitting out at one of the tables, sorting through some just-purchased groceries. I asked her if she liked & could eat ice cream, that I had some to share.  Yes!  She’d be happy to eat one.  I asked if she was hiking with anyone, & she said yes.  So, I gave her two ice cream bars & we visited briefly (didn’t want that ice cream to melt) & I wished her good travels & ate my yum yum ice cream sandwich!  It was fun to share with someone so excited to eat the ice cream too!

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I was now leaving heading back to Lake Tahoe, but I would be exploring the north end that’s in Nevada.  I stopped at the Incline Village VC & asked about a hike & camping.  Good news about the hike, but not surprising, no camping.  I took off looking for the trailhead.  There were two they told me about, but the first one started in a restaurant parking lot.  The VC said I could park there if I bought something.  The alternative was out on the road, in a construction zone with dust & gravel flying…so I parked at the eatery, bought a sandwich then took off on the trail.  The views of the lake were wonderful…this is truly one of the prettiest lakes I’ve ever seen.  You could see right to the bottom of lake even though I was high up on a trail.  


There was also a rock called Monkey Rock to look at…I’m sure this isn’t a natural feature, but it definitely looks like a monkey.


My next hike was up an old forest road to a fire lookout.  I was confused because I thought the guy at the VC said it was an old fire tower.  I even asked if I could climb it & he said yes.  But, there was no fire tower…it was a spot that they used to use to look for fires…just a spot high up on the mountain…no tower.  Thinking, once again, that I’m a horrid listener, I thought it was just me.  But other hikers—ones either I asked or they asked me—wondered where the tower was.   The tower was missing but views were there—big, bold & beautiful!


While I was at the VC, I also asked about breweries…they told me about Alibi Ale Works & even gave me a coupon for a beer…I’m not a coupon girl & this was the first brew coupon I’ve ever received.  The parking lot was full & they’d just opened, but I managed to find a spot & order a beer.  And pay for it…then after I drank part of it realized I’d forgotten to even use the coupon!  Then, some nice trip magic happened…I feel like it happened both to me & the guy I gave the coupon to.  His name was Eric & he sat by me at the bar once he got his drink.  He was a local, but not native.  We started chatting & I can’t remember how, but started talking about his & his wife’s thru hike on the AT 20 years ago.  For once, I kept my mouth shut & just so enjoyed listening to him reminisce.  Every once in awhile, he’d say, “wow, I haven’t thought about that since my hike”.  It was so interesting.  He finally needed to go, but thanked me for listening to his memories.  He walked away with a big smile on his face & as I finished my beer, I was smiling too.  The people you meet along the way are make traveling even more special.

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I drove through Carson City, then kept heading east to try & find BLM land for the night.  The sky was so beautiful as night fell.

Day 39 6.28
A friend had recommended going to see Virginia City & my campsite was about 10 miles away, so I left early in the morning to see this old time mining town.  I love pioneer history, but somehow all the mining stuff never piques my interest.  

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I’m not sorry I went, it’s always good to explore new places, but here’s the text I sent Danny about Virginia City:

"Ok done in Virginia City...shops all closed but no big deal. I don’t need Western wear, big knives, old antiques, or to tour the mines, go to the museums, or watch the daily gunfight.  Although I did consider staying & getting my old western picture taken as a saloon girl for you for your birthday (you know back then they all had poochy tummies & big hips but they also had big boobs so I didn’t think I could pull it off).  The Saloons all look like they serve the same quality of beer as they did the 1890’s.    The only thing I required was a bathroom to be open.  I couldn’t find one so as I strolled by a BBQ restaurant I asked the guy outside grilling where the public bathrooms were. He said the only one was at the VC but they didn’t open till 9... it was 830.  He never hesitated but offered the restaurants bathroom.  Yay!  I would have considered the 1890’s way of just peeing in the street, but next to the restaurant was the Sherrif’s office... a real one not a fake one.  Thank you to the kind BBQ guy!  It’s cute but think I’m done.   Driving the 8 miles up here by all the mining destruction just made me mad at our stupid selfish nature-murdering  government. Headed back down the highway then east on 50 to Silver Springs then north on some highway to I-80  PS:  maybe I should recommend to the VC to add outhouses". 

Then I left town taking highway 50 but just until it would make the closest connection to I-80.  So, I’ll admit, I’ve been scared by a highway….a state highway.  My cool, but brave friends Tom & Kelly (fearless duo) thought I could do it, but I don’t think Danny was that thrilled either at the thought of me taking my 17 year old 4Runner on the “Loneliest Road in America”.  I’ve gone round & round about this part of my trip since I left Kansas; but today the answer was “no”, so I went on the “Most Boring Road in America”…no wait, that’s I-70 from Kansas to Colorado….ok the “2nd Most Boring Road in America” & blew through the state of Nevada as fast as I could.

Then I was in Utah.  The road side looks like the Great Salt Lake without any waterkind of strange. 

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 I buzzed through Salt Lake, then Provo.  I was trying to get to a dispersed campsite about 25 miles outside of Provo before dark.  As I turned out of the city & onto the curvy highway, I was really hoping not to run into any deer.  But, right before the sky turned dark, I made it off the road & found a sweet spot for the night, cooked dinner & was happy to tuck myself in bed for the night.  Id driven 600 miles today.  The pull to get to Colorado was super strongI could hardly wait to be back there!

Day 40 6.29
Another beautiful day.  I made coffee in camp before another long day of driving.

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About 110 miles later, I hit the town of Green River & I-70.  Driving east for a way, then turning off towards Sego Canyon.  There’s no sign on the highway for this tiny treasure, but my friend Talie had told me about it.  I drove the few miles off the highway & into the canyon to see some really awesome Petroglyphs & Pictographs.  They were super cool!





My heart always skips a beat when I pass the “Welcome to Beautiful Colorado” sign at the state border…yay!  I stopped in Grand Junction at REI (to try to buy a new headlamp…didn’t get one), a liquor store (bought a 6 pack of Dragons Milk but nothing special) then a quick trip into Palisade.  Palisade is a sweet little green oasis in the desert part of Colorado.  There are several wineries there, a lavender farm & some orchards.  I was headed to Graystone Winery.  They only make Port & I wanted to bring a bottle to camp with me…either to share with Jill or Danny (maybe I should have bought two bottles?)  I tasted three of the four choices, bought a bottle & headed south east….towards one of my favorite places on the planet.

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It was almost a desperate feeling to get there.  Partly because it was Friday & Friday before a big summer holiday, but I just wanted to be back in my lovely mountains!  Today’s total mileage was 350 but coming over Kebler Pass was wonderful…the aspens, the mountains, the views….YAY!  I’m back!

I didn’t even drive through town, but headed out to my camping spot…or what I’ve come to think of as mine.  Along Slate Road, by the river, with a mountain view that’s breathtaking.  My spot was full…no surprise there.  So, I drove out to the next valley road & was super lucky to get one off Washington Gulch road.  It’s a little slanted, but way more private than the one off Slate.  No drop dead views, but still pretty sweet.  It’s a spot for two campers & my neighbors were already there.  I set up my tent & my screen tent & made dinner (mostly all I’d had all day was a piece of cheese & 3 tasters of Port!)  The sunset lights up Mt. Crested Butte, which is the view from this new camping spot…what a perfect way to end the day in this special, special part of Colorado!

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Day 41 6.30
My neighbors have a dog& Im in love (dont tell my cat).  Last night he entertained me by chasing the chipmunks up the trees.  Hes so cute & Im soooooo glad hes got owners that love him.  If he was abandoned, Id be traveling with a dog! (Picture taken through my screen tent.)

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I met his owners this morning-Jerud & Ching, a nice couple traveling on the road full time & it will be nice to have them as neighbor’s for the next couple of weeks.  The dogs name is Tyki.  He’s just adorable & I love watching him play.

I drove out to the Walrod Gulch trail this morning…it usually has the earliest wild flowers.  But, it’s so dry here, they were already gone.  The trail climbs up, which always kicks my butt & makes me breath hard.  There’s also a cave you can see from the beginning of trail, then as you hike up high above it, you can look down into it.

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I was sad to see there’s no wildflowers, but I would soon learn, this will be the year with fewer wild flowers than most.

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After the hike, I decided to make a quick trip to Gunnison for a shower, gas & groceries.  It didn’t take long, then I was back in CB & headed downtown to my favorite bar…The Brick Oven Pizzeria.  On my way, Danny told me they were serving a super special hard to find beer, so I was even more excited!  I sat at their awesome outdoor bar, ordered my Dogfish Head World Wide Stout & the bartender said “Hi Vicki…when did you get back?”  Then just a few minutes later, my friend Rick sat down beside me & said “Welcome Back!”.  I love this town & it’s wonderful fun active people!!!!  We visited for about an hour catching up on all things Crested Butte.  I ordered dinner…which was so yummy & slowly finished my beer.  I love this town & I’m so happy happy happy to be back!

Back at camp, Jerud & Ching & I visited for awhile, then I cleaned out the 4Runner & moved one of the tents to a different place so I could park where the tent had been.  Then I tucked myself in the 4Runner under a full moon…no need to dream tonight of Crested Butte….I’m here!

Day 42 7.1
Today was the last day of Dannys vacation, so we visited for awhile this morning.  Im sore for some reason todaydont know if its because of accumulative hiking or why, but I was moving slow.  I drove into town & strolled through the Farmers Market.  I wanted to say hi to my friend Katea super awesome creative artist that lives here.  Shes illustrated a book, so I bought one to read for Claire & Emma.  We greeted each other with hugs & promises to get together soon for a glass of wine.  I went in & out of a couple of shops & just took in the changes in the townsome places close each year & are replaced by new ones.

Then I drove up Kebler Pass to do the hike to Copley Lake.  Its a steep hike, but not a long or hard one.  I saw my first Columbine of the season…love this flower!

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Then spent some time at the lake…it’s a beautiful little spot!

Then I hiked back down & drove out to camp & made a salad for dinner.  I read until dark, then tucked myself in for the night, staying up reading until late with my twinkly lights on…I’m so glad I added these this year.

Day 43 7.2
I was out of camp early this morning & heading into townEverything was out of juice (battery power)!  I bought some coffee & visited with the Barrista that works there.  She doesnt know me, just recognizes me from all the years Ive been coming out here, but still super nice & friendly.  I plugged in everything, glad the shop was pretty empty this morning, so I could pig all the outlets.  About the time I was ready to leave, I got a FT from Claire.  She always loves me to read to her, & I packed some kids books before I left home.  Today I got to read her the new book I bought with Kate’s illustrations & she loved it!  I miss her so much & Emma is growing so fast…I can’t wait to see them all later in August.

Then I drove out to another favorite place…Gothic Road.  Mind blowing views of the mountains!  I parked & packed up & in sandals, began to cross the river to hike the 401.  The river was deeper than ever coming up to mid-thigh at one point & had more of a current than normal.  Glad to be done with that, I changed my sandals for hikers & took off up the trail.  I hike this trail every year, usually more than once & always love it!  I probably write the same thing each year using words like…magnificent, gorgeous, amazing, awesome….you get to read those words over & over for so many hikes in CB.  So maybe this year, I just post the pics & cut the words...

The 9.5 mile hike was great but I was dirty practically up to my knees with dust. It’s so dry here, so instead of dreading the river crossing to get back to my car, I used it as a time to clean off…yikes it’s cold!

I headed back to the Brick for another WWS, dinner & ran into Rick again enjoying another wonderful conversation!  

On Monday nights, there’s a free concert in town…these are my favorites!  (There’s also one on Wednesday nights up on the mountain…very different crowd.)  Tonight it was as packed as I’ve ever seen it…a long time favorite of the town—Leftover Salmon—was playing tonight & everyone was excited!  I had taken 1/2 my dinner with me & found a seat in the bleachers.  I randomly sat down & ended up having a great conversation with one of the locals named Kent.  He was leaving on an epic rafting & hiking trip tomorrow with a friend & was telling me all about it….yikes it’s in Grizzly territory, but it sounded wonderful & big & hard & amazing! He introduced me to some of his friends also.  The band was really really good & so many people, of all ages, were up on their feet dancing.  I love this about these concerts…the people here just want to be joyful everyday; being active, & paying attention to the beauty of this special place.

Besides having more rainbows than any other place I’ve ever been, trip magic happens to me more here than anywhere.  

And, you know you’ve found your tribe, when most of the people are wearing Chacos, & the one’s that aren’t are dancing barefoot, with a Chaco tan!

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Day 44 7.3
I stayed in my bag being lazy this morning & finishing a book.  So, not only did my headlamp break on this trip, a couple of days ago, the zipper on my wallet broke.  Im a tad bit phobic about checking my credit card as I travel, so having the wallet flapping about everytime I eat out, grocery shop, buy gas or move it from my bag to my backpack was making me crazy.  I went into town & in & out of the few shops that even sell wallets, but couldnt find one that meets my super picky standards.  I decided to drive down into Gunnison & hit a couple of places there.  I went to my favorite called Treads & Threads, which is also a favorite of Jills.  And, I found a wallet that works!  YayI only had to go to one store.  The sky was looking iffy, so I decided to go next door to the Alpine brewery & get a Chili beer & small beet & goat cheese salad.  Topped off my gas tank then headed back to camp under cloudy skies.

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My neighbors had friends arrive & they invited me over to visit for a little while before nightfall.  They are all on the road full time which I could have asked a million questions about, but tried to restrain myself.  After about 45 minutes, my beer was finished & I said good night.

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