Thursday, September 19, 2013
Day 95 - This commercial break brought to you by The Fast & the Furious 7
Gangles was shivering most of last night, so we made an executive decision: we need to go to town to dry out. The weather might be nice, but we need a mental break before we begin the next 100mi stretch in the the rugged San Juans.
We decided to hike down to Monarch Pass, pick up our maildrop (Thanks, Mom!) and hitch to town. We hung around camp for a while, trying to dry out our things a bit. Gloves, socks, shoes, tent, poncho strewn about camp, to catch the first bit of sustained sunshine we've seen.
Still soaked, but less sopping, we climbed up to Ross Lake Reservoir. We saw some nasty looking clouds coming in. They were probably benign, but we're a little shell-shocked from seemingly fine-looking clouds. So, we bailed off the Divide, down to the road. We were close to Monarch Pass when we were stopped by a young man named Joaquin. He was wearing a hard hat, a yellow vest, and waving a STOP / SLOW sign on a long stick. He stepped right in front of us, and told us we couldn't pass. We were two miles from Monarch Pass, and he said no foot traffic was allowed through. Specifically, no hikers. He told us our options were to hike back the other way, or we had to take a ride up to the pass.
We didn't want to go back up to the Divide, since we were trying to avoid the weather. We had to take a ride. We had to break our continuous footpath, but no option. Joaquin had already spotted us, so no sneaking around. Plus, the road was closed to pedestrian traffic for the next month, i.e., no chance to come back and walk this section tomorrow either. We sat on the side of the road, waiting for the manager to come get us in her pick-up truck. Given how terrible the weather can be, I understood that there was a small window for road construction. Completely respectful of the road closure.
As we were chatting with Joaquin, turns out that we were not stopped for construction. Actually, the closure is due to long-term filming of The Fast & the Furious 7. Car chases, buses exploding with the spectacular mountains in the backdrop. It will make fantastic film. But terribly disappointing for the hike. I decided to be calm, and accept this as just another day on the trail. Just like being forced to skip some sections of the trail due to road closure, this movie is an immovable force.
About an hour later, we got a ride for the last two miles up to the Pass, and picked up our maildrop. Wanting to be good trail citizens, we bought a few things at the store to give them business. Then we hitched down to Salida with a nice guy named Greg. He's headed back home to Colorado Springs, and was very interested in the trail. Somewhat comically, Greg kept asking if we wanted to get dropped off at the McDonald's. Must be the place to go in Salida. Or we looked in desperate need of an Extra Value Meal.
He left us at the Super 8. He did mention we had inspired him to hike the trail, which is wonderful.
Though the 'VACANCY' sign was flashing, the Super 8 had no vacancies. We went next door, and they also had no rooms despite the 'VACANCY' sign. I called around to a few places, and they were all booked. One of the hotel owners gave me the scoop--it could be leaves turning bringing in the tourists. But she thought it was probably because of...The Fast & the Furious 7. Apparently, they had called last month, looking for 280 motel rooms. That darn movie keeps popping up in unexpected and inconvenient places. I suppose a movie about cars chasing other cars, probably has no room for a pair of slow-moving hikers.
So, here we are, unexpectedly in Salida for the night. Brought here, and almost chased away by a movie about cars.
Going to get hot meal, do laundry, and shower. San Juans, see you in the morning!
Mileage: 10mi from near Ross Lake Reservoir to Monarch Pass (-2mi from The Fast & the Furious 7. Sigh.)