Take a Trek

Day 5: Where Wind Was Born

Long Gulch to Kenosha Pass (Jefferson)
Day: 15 Miles
Trip: 71.6 Miles

Route 285, at Kenosha Pass, will be the first major highway that I’ve come to, thus far. Jefferson, a tiny town with a population of 16, is four miles away from this junction, and rumor has it that the lady at the local country store knows how to flip a mean veggie burger. I definitely have enough food to get me to Breckenridge, without doing a resupply, but the idea of fresh grease being shoved into my mouth taunts me all morning long.

Jefferson Bound

Jefferson Bound

In between my fried food fantasies, I sometimes stop to smell the flowers
But they always end up smelling like onion rings.

Smelling the Flowers

Smelling the Flowers

There’s a middle-aged couple playing with their dog, in the parking lot at Kenosha Pass, when I arrive. While chatting with them, I ask if they’re heading towards Jefferson. “Gee sorry, we’re not goin’ that way,” the woman politely explains. I thank them anyway, and make my way to the edge of the road. For fifteen minutes, I continue to make small talk with the couple and their dog, while pathetically waving my thumb in the air. Without warning, they get into their car, back out of the parking lot, and drive towards Jefferson. I’m so impressed by their display of prickness, that I feel the need to wave goodbye to them with my middle finger. “Bleep you, you bleepholes! ” I add for good measure. I’m laughing out loud about the whole ordeal, when I notice a man signaling me from a parked pickup truck. He must have enjoyed the show, because I just scored a ride to Grease Heaven.

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Grease Heaven

I’m a big fan of visiting remote trail towns. Outside of backpacking, it’s hard to imagine a scenario that would deliver me to a four-building town, inhabited by 16 people, that rests at an elevation of ten-thousand feet. These places are sometimes as unique and interesting as the trails that I walk. It’s also pretty sweet to see something besides trees and dirt every so often.

Rainbow over Jefferson

Rainbow over Jefferson

This rainbow is completely out of control.

Double the Fun

Double the Fun

There are three other thru-hikers here, at the Jefferson Market, Rough Rider, Road Warrior, and The Sorcerer. Despite the rough and tough tone of their trail names, these guys are quite friendly and fun to be around. The Sorcerer informs me that backpackers are welcome to camp behind the store, as long as they buy breakfast before they leave in the morning. “Yeah man, we’re in no hurry. We’re going to catch rides back to the trail in the morning.” I look outside, realize that it’s going to rain again, and feel my motivation to hitch back to the trail rush from me, like a helium balloon that has been set free by the hand of a small child.

I return to the counter with a six pack of Coors Light to share with my new trail mates. If we’re going to dirtbag it behind the general store for the night, we might as well have the proper accessories.

Dirtbaggin' it

Dirtbaggin’ it

For reasons that are beyond my scope of understanding, The Sorcerer is carrying a five-pound, four-person tent with him. “I’m not in any hurry,” he says. “So I just wanna be comfortable, while I’m traveling around.” Regardless of his reasoning, the giant, orange dome is a nice communal area for the four of us to drink beer, when the weather turns to complete shit.

And the weather always turns to complete shit.

The wind is blowing so hard, it’s difficult to hear ourselves talk above the sound of flapping nylon. Tent walls are reaching towards us, as quickly as they are retreating backwards. Rough Rider unzips the front vestibule, to make sure that all of the other shelters are still where we left them, and I notice that the rain is literally being blown sideways. The wind is whistling and howling, like a deranged beast that was just punched in the balls. “This is fucking insane!” I exclaim. “Yeah,” road Warrior, responds. “When I first got here, I commented on the wind to the woman working in the store. She said ‘honey, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This is the place where wind was born.'”

The sound of flapping nylon has been replaced with laughter.