Our first day in Creede started with ice cream and ended with ice cream, which is the recipe for a good day. We headed down for the day from our room at the Aspen Inn. We noticed Jim and Chase, a boy working in town for the summer, sitting at the counter of Finding Gems. We wandered inside where we were welcomed by the question if it was time for ice cream. It was. Chase served us two large waffle cones, one with coffee flavored ice cream the other almond amaretto.
We had brought our packs down, but Jim told us they had blocked the room off for us for either a late check out or for another night. After we were finished our ice cream we took our packs back up to the room to store them for the day, which turned into staying for another night. How could we not?! There was so much left of Creede for us to see and so much snow left on trail.
Chase gave us a ride down to MJ's, a local diner, for a small lunch. We then hiked up a trail right in town that took us up and over to the spires which frame the town of Creede. Hiking without the weight and constraints of our packs, we felt so free. Free?! We are walking across the country wth our everything we need on our backs. Our homes are in our packs. What is more free than that?! Our packs ground us in each of our steps. We feel as if each toe roots us deep into the earth. Without our packs, we might as well float away from the trail. As we reached the top of the climb overlooking the town a group of hikers, two couples, were hiking down.
"Where are y'all from?" one of women asked.
Our "Nashville!" was followed by an excited and familiar "Memphis!" We chatted with them for a bit before we all started to head down the trail on the other side. They stopped for lunch and shared with us a PB&J and some water. As we joined back up the with the road after going down a descend on top of talis, we continued our conversations all the way back into town, specifically till we arrived at the Mining Museum.
There we all parted ways some to go through the museum tour, others to go back into town to get the car, and us to feed the chipmunks that live in the walls of the museum. A quarter got us both a handful of sunflower seeds and down we sat on the concrete waiting for our furry friends to come out for some snacks. Sure enough they started to come out of hiding as soon as they heard the nozzle of the candy, turned seed, machine click. They would run right up to our hands and started stuffing their cheeks full of seeds. The smaller ones were generally more shy and skiddish while the larger ones where more brave and bold.
After an hour or so we decided we should probably go do something a little more productive so we headed to Main Street to check out the gear shops and resupply on food. We wandered into a fly shop, Rio Grande Anglers, where we spoke with some locals and learned some interesting information. As we hiked in the day before we tried to fish a beautiful stream that was full of mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies and was overall very fishy. However, no fish was caught or even seen, which we thought to be very strange. The gentlemen at the shop inform us that that stream happened to be one of the best for Brook Trout. Unfortunately and fortunately, two years ago Colorado Fish and Wildlife poisoned the stream in order to rehabilitate the native Cutthroats back in. No wonder there was no fish.
We wandered across the street and into another shop, San Juan Sports, where we quickly became overwhelmed by smell of new gear and sight of a shop similar to our very own Cumberland Transit. As we were poking about the store, two familiar hikers walked in, Charlie and Hannah! We caught up with them for awhile in the middle of the store before relocating to the Kentucky Belle Market to resupply and continue our sharing of stories of the trail past. Our goal was to leave in the morning and head out with them. That night we packed our packs up and fell asleep one last time among the mural of aspens.
The morning came far too quickly, but we welcomed the sun as it began to spill into our room at the Aspen Inn. Our intentions were set on getting back on trail today especially since Charlie and Hannah were close by and we looked forward to hiking with them. We finished packing our bags and once again stripped the sheets off of the bed and collected the trash. Our hummus and cheese had disappeared overnight so we ran down to the Kentucky Belle Market to pick some more up for our lunches. Today was Creede's 125th Birthday, so the town would be celebrating all day with burrow races, shoot-outs, pie eating contests, and so much more. We were not planning on staying due to the inevitable money spending that comes with staying in town. As we walked back up Main Street, our attention was directed towards a handsome Australian Shepard and his owner in workout clothes. We stopped to pet the dog named Bear and started talking with the owner. She asked us if we were staying for Creede's big day, and when we stated that we had to get back to trail to save money and make miles, without hesitation, she offered up her guest room for the night if we stayed. We already knew our answer, but we decided to run an errand before admitting to our decision.
We scurried up the road to the Mining Museum, and we pulled out all of the quarters we had left. Seventy-five cents led to an hour with our fuzzy chipmunk friends. Bud, a tour guide for the museum, even came out and sat with us. He told us about a young woman he helped the day before when she had driven her Jeep near an ledge and on top of a boulder. When she begged to pay him or buy him dinner for helping her out, he responded by saying, "That is Creede for you. Don't pay me, pay it forward."
After the seeds were gone and we were out of quarters, we decided to take the thirty minute audio tour through the museum. We were guided to eighteen different stations each one representing a different task, tool, or position within an old mine. The whole process of extracting and collecting the ore was broken down into laymen's terms. It was only then that we felt ready to stay for the day.
We hurried back to Main Street and met up with the woman who offered us a place to stay. Her name was Johamy and now she was dressed in a long skirt, dressy top, and a cowboy hat. She was setting up her face painting booth outside of the Creede Repertory Theatre. Excited that we had come back and had decided to stay, she showed us to her house so that we could put down our packs. Johamy was the perfect host, not to mention beautiful, intelligent, strong, and charismatic. As we walked back towards town, she invited us to see the matinee showing of She Loves Me at the repertory theater. Our answer was an absolute yes! We had heard so many amazing comments about Creede's theatre and even found out it was one of the best in the country. We had some time to kill before the show, so we headed over to Finding Gems, right across the street, and sat with Anna for a little bit. She mentioned a series of books exploring the spiritually of Russian culture before the Moors invaded. Curious about her Russian-Jewish background, we asked her questions and in turn mentioned pieces of our own ethnicities and families. When she hurried back to the ice cream shop, we wandered down the road to pick up some ingredients Johamy needed for a couscous dish she was going to make for a potluck that evening. Everyone was crowding around for the start of the burrow race, a ten mile race where each participant has to bring a burrow along the course with them. Dressed in the traditional pack equipped with a gold pan and shovel, the burrows were heehawing and already showing off their stubbornness as their racers tried to line up at the start line. A shotgun sounded and the runners and their burrows were off, except one that decided to head in the opposite direction. As the woman racer righted her burrow, they were off in the right direction.
Now it was about time for us to head up to the theatre. We headed inside to claim our tickets. The inside of the theatre was as beautiful as the outside. Small and perfectly quaint. We headed to our seats close to the front. The play was set in the 1930's in a European perfume shop. The pianist walked out taking a seat at his bench and began playing an upbeat song. The house lights dimmed and actors began showing up on stage for their popening song. She Loves Me is based on a play by Miklos Laszlo, and this musical inspired the movie You've Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. A romantic comedy, She Loves Me follows the love of two feuding co-workers while exploring other forms of love and loss. The cast and their lines had us laughing out loud. The songs even got stuck in Garbelly's head. We were so impressed by the set choreography as they changed from store front to perfume store to restaurant with ease. We even ran into Dave, our ride from Pagosa Springs to Wolf Creek Pass, among the audience.
After the show, we met back up with Johamy and joined her at a potluck. Everyone there played a part in the theatre community. We spoke with a couple of the actors from the performance as well as watched an intense game take place. The game was played like four-square but with soccer rules. Before we knew it fifteen people were involved in the game rotating turns on the outer edge of the court. We learned so much about Creede's theatre community and repertory program, and we discovered through conversations with members and employees how big of a part the theatre plays in the town and county. As we learned about the upcoming shows, we could not help but start thinking of logistics to come back. After the potluck we started heading back to Johamy's house when we ran into our friends we had made on our hike. After a quick meeting and then several serendipitous run-ins thereafter, it is amazing how much a group of strangers can become so meaningful to you. The short conversations and encounters became some of our most inspirational ones yet. As if we had known them forever or even dare we say, as if they were family. It's truly spectacular, and hopefully, our family back home can rest their minds knowing how well taken care of we are out here. Continuing with that idea, that evening we spent time with Johamy on her back porch with Bear. We found her role with the theatre's educational program fascinating and learning about how much the program has grown in such a short time is amazing! We really enjoyed getting to know Johamy and simply spending time with her. Looking back on the morning, it was perfect timing, maybe even fate, to have run into her as we left the grocery store. Whatever it was, we had made the right decision in staying one more day in Creede.
Cheers to Creede and Happy 125th Birthday!
Garbebe and Crittah