Day: 0 Miles
Trip: 263.7 Miles
I’m attending a fancy dinner party, hosted by a French man in a tuxedo. The mansion is full of snooty business types, dressed in black, sipping wine, and tilting their heads towards the ceiling when they laugh. I’m nervous, and out of place, dressed in my hiking clothes, wearing my backpack. How did I get here? Surely, I wasn’t invited. I want to leave, but I can’t. My stomach is an anchor, forcing me to stay. I’m famished, and every surface area in this mansion has a platter of food on it. cheeses, breads, crackers, vegetables, dips, and little toothpick-looking things that have strange looking appetizers stuck to their ends are strewn about, for as far as the eye can see. Nervously, I sample one tray of food, then another, and another. unable to stop eating, I become embarrassed and start putting things in my pockets. I’m on my way out the front door, when the French man wearing a tuxedo lifts his wine glass and taps it with a small pocket knife. Ding, ding, ding. How did he get my pocket knife? “I would like to make an announcement,” he says, in an exotic accent. The crowd is silent “A certain someone at our dinner party has taken it upon themselves to consume all of the h’orderves.” A communal sigh, a roar of disbelief erupts from the crowd. I’m a goner, done for. Frantically, like a starved dog, I start eating all of the food in my pockets. Everyone is watching, but it doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve lost control.
Food nightmares. I usually get them, when I long-distance hike. Burning between 6,000 and 8,000 calories a day, for long periods of time, has a way of turning your brain into a calorie-obsessed nuisance.
Sean, a local staying at the hostel, invites Mr. Oddity and I to join him for breakfast at The River’s Edge, a restaurant that he works for. As the title of the establishment implies, our dining experience takes place next to a massive, flowing body of water. “People come from all over to kayak here,” Sean tells us. ” A lot of folks get killed though. A couple more died last week,” he states, nonchalantly. I stop chewing, for a moment of silence. “That’s crazy,” I reply. “Yeah, we’re kinda just used to it happening, I guess.” Shoveling eggs Benedict and hash browns into my face, I try to comprehend a town of 5,000 people being used to tourists regularly smashing their skulls on rocks and drowning. The welcome sign, in the middle of Salida seems so ironic now.
Originally a railroad town, Salidas economy now revolves around recreational tourism, the main attractions being big mountains and a big river system. Monarch Ski Resort ropes in ski bums in the winter, while the Arkansas River attracts kayakers and white river rafters during summer months. Outdoor enthusiasts, including Mr. Oddity and myself, spend the cash that keeps this place running.