CDT day 124: Lake City

September 5
Mileage: 10
2,403 miles hiked

I sleep warm at last, my body heat drying my quilt and the rain coming and going, coming and going but me safe inside my tarp. I wake just after six to a dusky sky and the moon hanging above ominous gatherings of clouds. Morning? Or some other astronomical event? Drinking icy water makes me shiver in my sleeping bag but I brew hot tea and fix that. Soon I’m up and hiking, wearing all my layers, crossing the open landscapes above twelve thousand feet in the cold, wind-blown drizzle. My shoes are wet from last night and then the ice-water from all the low shrubs falls on them until I’ve got brain-freeze of the feet and they ache so. fucking. bad. The kind of pain that makes you naseous. Just a little while longer, I think, before the morning sun chases away last nights’ ice storm and warms this drizzle three degrees, making all the difference in one’s feet. And in an hour it does, turning numb/painful feet to just cold/soggy feet. And then I forget that my feet ever hurt at all.

There is very little traffic at Spring Creek Pass- one car every ten minutes or so. Still, within half an hour I have a ride (hiking dress wins again) and another half hour later I am walking down the ramshackle streets of tiny Lake City, which is having an ATV festival for Labor Day weekend. The sun is still fighting with the rain. I’m starving. I find a busy restaurant/pub sort of place and step inside, squinting against the dim interior.

“Can I help you?” Says the hostess. She’s looking at me warily. I feel confused by this- I’m wearing my tights and puffy jacket against the cold, and I like to think this outfit makes me look sort of fancy. But I have my backpack on so I’m obviously a homeless junky who would never be able to afford to eat in an actual restaurant. The tables around the hostess are full of people eating, chattering, clanking silverware. I wait for the hostess to ask me how many in my party or to tell me where to sit. She doesn’t. The people at the table next to the door are staring at me.

“Um, can I eat here?” I say. I’ve had lots of foodservice jobs, I understand why all sorts of things in a restaurant might be different than one would like them to be, and reasons this is forgivable. But this lady is just being fucking rude.

“Sure!” She says brightly, as if everyone who walks in the door is forced to ask permission to eat in the restaurant before being seated. I sit at a table outside and order some of the most expensive and worst-tasting food I’ve had on the trail so far. Yay!

The Raven’s Rest Hostel, though, is a dream. Run by a local long-distance hiker named Lucky, the hostel is a square building behind Lucky’s house, and contains everything a hiker might want/need. Comfortable couches, a kitchen, three showers. Two bunk rooms with cozy bunks. Blankets. Pillows. Towels. Loaner clothes. Lots. And lots. And lots. of outlets.

I sit on the couch and don’t get up for a long while. I take a hot shower and am finally warm. I make gluten-free spaghetti and eat it with the two Colorado Trail hikers, Stealthy and Mule, who are also staying at the hostel. We sit outside and listen to the horrible cover bands at the ATV festival. The rain returns and we retreat indoors. I love indoors!!

Photos on instagram