Rockland, IL and Madison, WI

Day 44     6/12/17     23 miles

Today was rather productive, especially considering we didn’t get out of town until quarter past ten. I had been lugging around my snowshoes for about 300 miles now and they had become a total nuisance. There was only about half a day when I actually used them and even that was overkill so I finally got a chance to mail them home today. This was no easy feat however, some old grouch at the post office was trying to make matters difficult. The woman at the counter was really nice but there was a particular crabby lady in the back that kept barking out orders at us from the other room. It took 3 trips to the PO, one pretty solid dumpster dive by me for some cardboard and a little bit of crafty ingenuity by Queen B to get our snowshoes packaged up and sent home. We celebrated our successful post office mission with ice cream sandwiches and then walked out of the town of Creede. This is a really cool old mining town and the Main Street leads right out of town through a giant canyon where the mine is. After leaving town the road ascends steeply through the mine and eventually picks up a trail that brought us back to the CDT after 10 miles. We walked quickly up this road and about halfway up saw a great big bull moose just chilling in the grass watching us. Once we got back onto the official route it was familiar territory. The CDT coincides with the Colorado Trail for the next few hundred miles and Queen B and I both hiked the CT last August. For the next 4 miles we were up around 12,000 feet contouring around huge bowls and postholing in deep snow. QB said this is her favorite place in the world, personally though I’m not too crazy about post holing through the snow for miles, no matter how spectacular the views are. Once we got up and over San Luis Pass we dropped down through a valley for about 10 miles before finding a place to camp in La Garita CG. I loved the CT and it’s fun to remember my time here last year and to see the trail going the opposite direction. In the valley this evening I saw a beaver, another great big moose, a white tailed deer and about a dozen elk. Walking out of Creede the old mineQB’s favorite place in the worldA great big moose

Day 45     6/13     27 miles

Crush City today! For real, we really knocked it out of the park. Today was a primo day for banging out some serious miles. The original plan was to push for a huge day, do the same thing tomorrow then hopefully get to Monarch Pass early enough on Thursday with enough time to hitchhike a couple hundred miles north to Denver. My friends Boone and Katie are getting married in Illinois this weekend and Queen B and I would like to be in attendance. We were destroying miles all morning and had close to 20 by the time we stopped for lunch. Shortly afterwards we ran into a southbounding Colorado Trail hiker who gave us a report of pretty lousy trail conditions ahead. I have no idea how accurate this report was and if we gave it hell I’m sure we could have still got to Monarch Pass by Thursday but chose to let fate have its say. There was a road crossing about 6 miles ahead and we decided to put our thumbs out for exactly one hour. If we didn’t get picked up in an hour we’d carry on hiking. As luck would have it, 45 minutes into the hour, the 8th car that passed us scooped us up. Chad was driving a huge pickup towing an even bigger trailer full of scrap metal. As a former scrap metal collector myself, I knew this was a good omen. He fed us a still warm McDonald’s double cheeseburger and drove us 40 miles to Sawatch, CO. We were quickly in and out of a gas station for drinks, and seconds later got picked up by a car heading our way. Mary was driving a full size suburban Chevrolet dragging a pop-up trailer and packed with 3 kids, 2 dogs and a few bikes. I was shocked when she stopped for us but it was a great hitch. The whole family was really nice and Mary drove us 3 hours to Colorado Springs where they were meeting her daughter who’s in the army there and camping for the weekend. On request Speed drove down to CO Springs to grab us, then he and his wife Theresa put us up in their home in Denver. Things really work out nicely sometimes. I just ate a ton of pizza and I’m about to crash out after an awesome long day of walking and traveling. Coachetopa creek crossing, arguably the coldest water of all time. My legs were numb to my thighs for 20 minutes. Miles to go before I sleep

Day 46     6/14     0 miles

Today I took my first official zero of the CDT. In thru hiking terminology a ‘zero’ is simply a day with no trail miles hiked.  So nice to just relax for the day. Theresa cooked us breakfast and then I straight chilled this morning, even took a mid morning nap, a total rarity for me. Over the last few weeks I developed a gigantic tear in the seat of my shorts, I mean these things were threadbare and see-through and even the packing tape we got in Creede couldn’t stop the damage. A better hiker would have just sewed them with dental floss but I had planned on replacing them while in town.  Theresa, a seamstress, offered to fix them and had my shorts good as new in minutes. Early this afternoon, Big Cheese (who became so svelte hiking the PCT in ’15 that he now goes by just ‘Cheese’) came by and the 5 of us went out to lunch then explored the Berkeley neighborhood of Denver where Speed and T live. QB and I ran a couple of errands this afternoon and then this evening Cheese had a little impromptu cookout at his place in Arvada just north of Denver. Speed, T and some other hiking friends and Colorado Natives BK and Nomad showed up, it was great. All day everything  was so last minute and unplanned and all these people came out of the woodwork to help us out; driving us around, putting us up in their homes, feeding us, or just hanging out. So nice to get trail magic from friends. Speed was supposed to get back on trail today(he’s hiking a section of the CDT in southern Wyoming) but put it off until tomorrow just to help us out. Cheese lives on a little working farm complete with goats and chickens and the like. Plenty of room to camp so this is where I’m spending the night. At first I couldn’t tell if this was some kind of sidewalk art or a scaffolding collapse. Note the ‘Bad Neighbor’ sign next door. Slow car or fast house? The last time I saw Cheese grilling, he and Shadowhawk were flipping burgers in Warner Springs, CA for about 100 hungry hikers. Bullit the Goat eating grass

Day 47     6/15    0 miles

Yesterday Queen B and I booked our flights to Chicago for early this afternoon. The last thing I needed the first then this morning was an email from Spirit airlines saying that my flight was delayed 6 hours(this really wasn’t that big of a deal especially since we were able to use our time wisely). So I just walked a butt load of miles, strangers picked up two dirty smelly hikers and drove us for hours on end, friends carted us around, fed us and housed us but a major U.S. airline (albeit a budget airline), that we spent real money on, was the only entity we couldn’t count on. I believe in people and fate, airlines and huge companies on the other hand are just the worst. No big deal, we made the most of our day in Denver. Cheese had the day off so he was able to hang out and brought us all over town to take care of chores and eat food. We went to Tom’s Diner downtown and I demolished a delicious Denver Omelette(I think everywhere else it’s just called a Western Omelette, at least in New England). While exploring the city we shopped for brand new used clothes to wear to Boone and Katie’s wedding. I can’t be getting out on the dance floor this weekend in my dirty running shorts, feathered trucker hat, and filthy ill-fitting Hawaiian shirt. Cheese then drove us up to Boulder to a gear repair  shop where I got the zipper on my tent replaced. Boulder Mountain Repair is the real deal; short money and super quick, in and out in 20 minutes. Before dropping us off at the airport we stopped for Vietnamese food. One of my 2017 New Year’s resolutions was to master chopsticks and I hadn’t picked up a pair in 6 weeks. It’s like riding a bike though and I had no problem devouring a huge bowl of Pho Tai. Right now I’m sitting on the plane that was delayed an additional hour and a half waiting to take off. Should be getting to O’Hare around 11:30 central time then still have about a 90 mile drive to Rockford, IL ahead of us. Hoping to crash out for a little bit on the plane. Oddly enough last night at Cheese’s cookout I met 2 of his roommates, one grew up in Rockford and the other went to Appalachian State in Boone, NC. My buddy Boone’s hometown and another city where he spent a lot of time and where his trail name is derived from. The truth is stranger than fiction, I’ve been saying that for years. The thing is though, that kind of stuff barely surprises me anymore, my life is a series of eerie coincidences or at least I think it is (I’ve also been saying that for years).Colorado state capitalit wouldn’t have been cool to put it back on the rack after trying it on over these gross clothes

Day 48     6/16     0 miles

We got into Chicago after midnight and still had to rent a car and drive 90 miles to Rockford. I hadn’t driven a car in 6 weeks, I was exhausted, in a place I’d never been, in a car I wasn’t familiar with, and driving through cloudburst rainstorms and navigating other obstacles like orange construction barrels and having to throw coins in real tollbooths like the olden days. I felt like I woke up in this really weird dream and had to perform ridiculous tasks. No problem though, we got to Boone’s house and caught up with him for awhile before finally crashing out for the night around 3am. After sleeping in for a few extra hours; Boone, QB, and I went to breakfast at Eggceltional or Eggsclusive Cafe or some other egg pun restaurant. I can’t remember the exact name but both thumbs up. Come to find out they call it a Denver omelette in Illinois too, but they should call it a Rockford omelette. QB and I both devoured our 5 egg omelette, plus stacks of pancakes. These were gigantic meals and we major beatings on them, I could tell the waitress was impressed. Queen B and I spent the afternoon having fun exploring the city of Rockford. It’s got a reputation for being a rather gritty place but from what I saw of the city I think Rockford’s got a lot going for it. We went to an art museum at the Discovery Center, walked along the riverfront and downtown and checked out the Rockford Farmer’s Market. This evening we went to the wedding rehearsal at the Barn and then to dinner with the Bride, Groom, and family and friends at Costa’s in Byron, IL. The wedding venue was really nice, dinner was great and it was a lot of fun meeting the people in Katie and Boone’s life. Boone and QB crushing breakfastthe Discovery Center in Rockford, ILthe Riverwalk Rockford, ILthe wedding venue

Day 49     6/17     0 miles

This morning Queen B and I took a little field trip to the Wisconsin state capitol, Madison. What a delightful little city this is! Madison is a clean, safe college town that was chock full of tourists, sidewalk performances, and another farmer’s market(2 midwestern FM’s in a row if you’re keeping track). In the center of the city is the beautiful capitol building. We checked that out and went up to the observation deck, enjoying 360 degree views of Madison and the 2 lakes the city is built between. We walked along pedestrian only State street which is closed to traffic on the weekends, over to both lakes, down to the University of Wisconsin and then out to lunch for noodles and sushi. Katie told us that Madison is the foodie capital of the Midwest(Boone disagreed). Either way the Japanese food today did not disappoint. Madison is about an hour and a half from Rockford so we headed back early enough that we’d have enough time to get all gussied up for the wedding. We got to the venue with time to spare and the impending rain held off for a beautiful outdoor ceremony. I’ve had many different roles at weddings and this time I was asked to step in and be the videographer. I was up for the task and everything but there’s a small chance there may have been some technical difficulties with the production. The reception in the barn afterwards was perfect; I met lots of their family and friends, there were 2 rather awesome toasts by Brian and Amanda(the BM and MOH speeches are usually my favorite part of any wedding and they both rose to the challenge), live country music, and serve yourself style BBQ which I prefer because of my fierce appetite. Most importantly it was easy to see that everyone in the room was genuinely happy for Boone or ‘Eric’ and Katie. These two have themselves a legit love story and it was obvious how excited they both were to be marrying each other. Tonight was a great night and I’m so glad I was there for it. Congratulations Katie and Boone! Madison, WIa street performer me, Boone(with his eyes closed), Katie, QBBoone or ‘Eric’ and Katie, the newlyweds QB and Lydia the flower girl, cheesin real hardMe and QB, got our wedding gear at thrift stores and took a few bird baths to get rid of that hiker stank

Day 50     6/18    0 miles

Boone put us up at his house for 2 nights and let us use it as a base while we were in town but since the newlyweds were returning there after the wedding, we sprang for a hotel room last night. I’m sure he carried her over the threshold and everything but we got out of their hair for all those traditions. I’d have to go over my journal to make sure, but I think Boone’s house was the first place that I spent 2 nights in a row since I left Massachusetts in the end of April. The place was incredible. Boone built it himself and as a carpenter and a perfectionist; his house is a perfect example of the craft that he’s mastered. We stopped by this morning before leaving town to say goodbye and gather a few of our things before driving to the airport. Everything went really smoothly so far today and QB and I are currently up in the air flying back to Denver. No delays on Spirit Airlines end so as long as the pilot lands this thing where they’re supposed to, we should be back on trail in the next 24 hours. I knew getting to Rockford for this wedding was going to be a challenge but it would be well worth it and it was. It’s tough to get off trail for an extended period of time but we hadn’t taken any zeroes yet and hopefully my body will appreciate the rest I’ve given it. Check in next week for an update and feel free to follow me on insta @endlesspsummer for more pictures.


PS All My Love!!! a Northern Illinois sunset last night at the wedding

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