The Family is Born

As many through hikers use hostels to save a few bucks, I thought I’d try a night at the Simple Hostel in Salida while I took a day off. As I was a Hostel Virgin (sounds like a band I could have been in when I was 16), I thought I’d ease into it by getting a private room. It’s definitely a different experience.  A guy in the living room is playing the guitar, poorly;  so I head onto the porch and talk with a few hikers already there.  I’m the only guy with a beer in his hand. I’m also the only guy without a joint in his hand.  Eventually met White Pine who was thru hiking CT and was a day ahead of me.

The hostel was an interesting experience but moved out to Super 8 after getting a supply box I had mailed to myself at the Post Office. Also, I was meeting Dan the next morning to slack pack another section. I received a text from Golden and Wildflower saying they were in Salida, wondering where I was. Shared plan for Slack Pack and they were all for doing it.

It was clear for the the start of day 19 as we walked the Section backward, saving walking up a 9 mile hill.  About halfway, we passed White Pine, who was heading the other, more difficult way.  We stopped at Monarch Crest for lunch which may have been most beautiful spot so far.  After watching the clouds build,  we started down in a hurry but not fast enough. Rain and hail started when we were about halfway down from the crest. By the time we got back to Salida, it was clear again.  Dropping the ladies back at the Hostel, Dan and I tried Moonlight pizza, Wall bangers and eventually Amicas, which has some great lasagna (I get hungry).  It was there we met up with Golden and Wildflower for dinner.

Monarch Crest
Monarch Crest

On day 20 (who’d have guessed, clear weather) Dan dropped off Golden, Wildflower and me at the trailhead. We were looking at a 20 mile day to get to Baldy Lake to camp.

One issue for women hikers is guys that try to attach themselves to them or their group through the hike in the hopes romance might bloom in the woods. The situation is common enough on the Appalachian Trail that it has a name, Pink Blazing.  Not wanting to be seen as a Pink Blazer,  I told them to feel free to move on without me. (There’s no doubt they could both out-hike me if they wanted,) They wouldn’t hear of it. In fact, Golden began calling us a family.

By the time we (mainly me) struggled the full 20 miles to Baldy Lake to camp, there was somebody else already there, none other that White Pine. He had a fire going and we all gathered around it that evening. By morning, the Family Meeting on the day’s hiking plan now included four. The Family now had representatives from Georgia, Mississippi, Iowa and Ohio, all the big mountain states.

Baldy Lake
Baldy Lake