September 23, Sunday
Last night was my first night sleeping in the Hiker Trailer, and I underestimated how many layers I’d need under me when sleeping. It’s getting quite cold at night here in Leadville, CO.
Eventually I’ll get a custom sized mattress, but I wanted to wait to order until I figured out the exact dimensions I wanted. So in the meantime, one of the things I bought at REI two days ago when I picked the trailer up was a good closed-cell sleeping pad – I’d been planning to buy one for backpacking anyway. I’ve been tent camping in cold weather before and am usually pretty good at staying warm, but I underestimated the chilling effect of air running underneath the teardrop. I was plenty warm on top, but cold on the bottom despite the pad and having a second sleeping bag overtop the pad. So I slept poorly, again.
For those keeping track, this is the third night in a row of bad sleep. Fortunately I had nothing important planned for today other than trailer organizing, which doesn’t get done.
Instead, Kelly, Bob, and I go take a hike along Turquoise Lake, where I camped for a while in the fall of 2016. It’s a chilly day, but the sun peaking through the clouds helps.
In the evening, we go out to the Silver Dollar Saloon in town to celebrate the sale of Cas, a historic building that looks much the same as it did 100 years ago – old uncomfortable booths included. Because it’s Sunday evening they aren’t selling food, but we have a drink there.
After that we go to Casa Sanchez 2, where I have a chicken chimichanga. It’s quite good and the portions are huge for the price.
Tonight, I go to bed prepared with loads of blankets underneath me and I sleep well, hurray!
It’s amazing how a good night’s sleep can change everything. Where I’d been pretty numb about the Hiker pickup and sale of Cas the past couple days, today I have the spare energy to actually feel something about this big change. And I feel pretty good!
And I make sure to write about how this went down here on the blog, because it seems quite common for people to make big changes in their life… and then get a bit anxious when they don’t immediately feel good about them.
Big changes take a lot of energy mentally and emotionally… and sometimes physically too. So it seems to me like it would be pretty normal to not have a big emotional reaction directly after a big change happens – you’re simply too worn out from bringing the change to life to have leftover energy to feel gratitude and happiness.
Gratitude and happiness come later. Or at least, this is certainly the case for me. This is much like how my first days of full-timing went too. I didn’t feel the immense swell of happiness at hitting the road my first night on the road, or even my first few nights. It happened after I arrived at Sioux Falls and set up my South Dakota residency, when I had a couple nights to chill and hike and just relax. That’s when I knew I’d made the right choice.
So the moral of the story is: Don’t fret if you hit the road, or buy a new RV, or start a new job, or any other big change, and don’t immediately feel satisfaction from it. Give yourself some time to recover from the exhaustion leading up to the change.
It’s a gray day today with on and off rain showers which makes organizing hard, but my general feelings of happiness are reflected in the weather when a rainbow comes out in the afternoon. I got a similar shot of a rainbow landing on Cas my first year boondocking, and this seems like a good sign of things to come!
October 1, Monday
If IO were a movie, the week between Sept. 24th and today, October 1st, would be a montage of organizing an buying supplies (primarily storage containers) for the squaredrop, hanging out with Bob and Kelly, taking a trip to Denver with Kelly to see a concert, and end with a view of the local forecast, which is calling for copious amounts of rain and snow from the remnants of a hurricane pushing north from Baja.
Bob left a couple days ago and Kelly and I decide to leave today, our camping area is pretty obviously in a low spot that gets boggy when wet, as evidenced by the deep ruts in the grass. Plus the color is pretty much done here in Leadville.
Our destination is somewhere Kelly has camped before, but is a totally new area for me! Silverton, CO.
It takes me longer than expected to get hitched up and ready to go. Well, not needing a weight distribution hitch, the actual hitching up is quite quick. It’s just that this is my first time moving the Hiker with everything in it, so it takes longer to make sure everything has a safe place to travel in. As I develop a system, the preparing-to-travel process will get quicker.
By the time I pull out of Leadville it’s well after noon. I go south on 24 and then 285 to Salida, then turn west on 50 to cross Monarch Pass at an elevation of 11,312 feet. A light drizzle is already falling up there and the road is wet, but not snowy like it’ll be this weekend. Bertha performs admirably, there is a noticeable difference in towing the Hiker vs. the Casita.
50 is a pretty drive. The cottonwood trees growing along the banks of the Gunnison River are turning yellow. Further on the canyon walls of Curecanti National Rec Area are sheer and stark, offering a different kind of beauty. But I can’t stop to enjoy them further, time is of the essence.
After a stop for gas in Montrose, I turn south on 550. The overcast skies are bringing sunset early. The jagged peaks in the distance are beautiful, but tell of a difficult road ahead. I approach the outskirts of Ouray right at dusk.
Things get interesting south of Ouray.
It seems like the road should end at the edge of town, but instead it takes a sharp right curve at the base of a cliff and ascends in a series of switchbacks. I’m now on what I later learn is called the Million Dollar Highway, but I can make out little of it. Vague looming shapes in the twilight tell of tall peaks and deep canyons, and Bertha’s headlights point out sharp drop offs without guardrails. It’s an exciting drive, although I wish I’d made it before dark.
By the time I make it to the top of the pass, true night has fallen. The heavy clouds have become fog and it’s drizzling, reducing both visibility and traction. It’s at this point that the drive stops being fun, and starts being a bit unnerving. Especially as I start back downhill. Downhill always worries me more than uphill.
But I make it down to route 7/585, where Kelly is already waiting at our boondocking spot. It’s literally right along a creek, although I can only hear it in the darkness. I do the absolute minimum setup before crawling inside the Hiker. The rest can wait until daybreak!
* * *
Spoiler alert: I do make it back along the stretch of 550 between Silverton and Ouray during the day and get pictures and videos. Those coming in a future post. 😉
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