Texas Hill Country
Plano, Texas, United States
Nov 26, 2019
I Brake for WarmShowers
After a day off in Salida, I was feeling strong, and the horrendous hill out of town didn't seem like much. My reward: a long, long day of headwind, and no trees.
I still made good time by some miracle, and when I arrived at the day's intended destination at 3:30, it was clear to me that I could press on to Breckenridge, only 20 miles farther, and stay in a hostel.
The last 20 miles was all one long up, one log down, the last pass I'll see that tops 11,000 feet; in fact, no pass after this tops 10,000 feet. Thin air shouldn't be a problem anymore.
I arrived in Breckenridge just before 6:00 PM and considered continuing to Silverthorne, less of a tourist trap, another 26 km away. The hostels would probably cost less, but I'd have less time to spend there. The clincher: I had a WarmShowers host only 21 km north of Silverthorne the next day. No way was I skipping that, and it made more sense to even out the days.
I paid $45 for a bunk. Yeouch! There are plenty of hotels that cost less. At least it came with breakfast. Ski towns, even in summer, way too expensive. I don't even want to think about how much a hotel room is in that town. Probably over $100. When you add in $100 for a lift ticket, $40 to rent skis, $500 for a plane ticket, and $40/day for a rental car, I'm surprised anyone ever goes skiing. And that's not even considering the fact that it's way too cold. Skiing is fun, but it's not worth $300 per day to do anything, especially if you have to be somewhere cold to do it.
While riding on the bike path between Breckenridge and Silverthorne, I was guided through the confusing parts by the locals, and more than once, was offered a place to stay for the night. I politely declined, now that I had a WarmShowers host, but I wish I'd ridden this path the night before!
After leaving the hostel at 10:00 AM, I arrived at 1:00 PM, by far my shortest day of riding, not counting my day off. I prefer short days to zeroes. No one was home, but there was a note on the door. I let myself in.
Five minutes later, Amy arrived. It was her brother's birthday, so she spent the majority of the afternoon baking while I showered and read a book. Later, her cousins arrived, then her dad, and finally, her brother. I went for a short hike/run with her cousins and got back just in time for beer, burgers, sausage, and cake. There weren't enough beds to go around, so I pitched my tent out back. Not that I minded in the slightest. What an awesome family to invite a guest to be part of the celebration! A lot of other people would use that as a reason to say no. And I wasn't even the only WarmShowers guest there! Jossi (spelling may be way off), from Israel, also got in on the fun, and even ate a sausage. I won't tell his rabbi.
I had yet another WarmShowers host in Steamboat Springs, two days away. I've contacted probably more than 30 people on WarmShowers and only received three yes-es. In the cases of Silverthorne and Steamboat Springs, I contacted about five people in each town, and had success with only one. Most haven't bothered to respond. There are more people than ever on WarmShowers, but I wonder if some of them have any intent to give back.
Climbing out of Silverthorne, it seemed like the hills kept getting shorter and steeper as the day went on, including a swearing-inducing climb away from the Colorado River, and then a series of pointless ups and downs afterwards. The constant headwind didn't help.
Late in the day, I was running low on water when the trail was crossed by a skin-deep stream. I had to ford it. Since I was at high elevation, this looked like a good place to get water. Incredibly enough, this would be the first time I'd use my filter.
A problem: my filter doesn't work with my bladder, the same bladder I bought specifically because I figured it would work with my filter. If you take a bottle that works with my filter, its lid fits on my bladder. Shouldn't that mean the thread pattern is close enough? I guess not...
Shortly thereafter, I met a couple of families up from Denver, camping out for the weekend. They invited me to sit down, and before I left, I had consumed a beer, a jalapeno margarita, and carne asado tacos. Holy crap! Such a surprise made this Texan happy. Good people, these are. And one of them was a fan of Todd Snider! I don't run into many of those.
Only 75 km to Steamboat Springs, almost all downhill. Easy day. Thankfully I was given some water from a couple doing a section of the Great Divide. I wound up in town around 1:30 PM, though my host didn't get off work until 6:00 PM. I spent most of the time plopped down on a park bench. I was told I could swim in the river, but I was also told it's about 9 C. Hell no.
Richard found me on the bike path and guided me to his house. His girlfriend was out of town for work, so it was just the two of us. A vegetarian, he whipped up some stir-fry with a ton of different veggies in it, along with tofu. I should've paid more attention, because it was great! I like cooking stir-fry myself, but I could learn a thing or two from this guy.
For the second time in three days, shower, laundry, a couple beers, and a satisfying meal. Both times, a short day, which I probably could've overshot a d gotten another day ahead of schedule. But when WarmShowers hosts are involved, it's worth it to slow down.
from Great Divide