Waking up this morning we did not feel the blanket of exhaustion we had felt the morning before, but instead we heard the trail calling to us to return. We packed our bags and left, shutting the door behind us. We walked through the groggy town of Alamosa to find ourselves outside of a Milagros Coffeehouse. Wandering inside with our huge packs and excessive snow gear for the city, we sat down at a table to enjoy coffee and a blueberry muffin. We were not going to stay long, but for some reason we did not feel in a hurry to leave.
Finally, we started making our way out of the chairs and hoisted our packs over our shoulders, when a very familiar women approached us. She began to ask us about hiking when a wave of realization crossed all of our faces. We had met her in the Trader Joe's in Santa Fe! Here we were another 80 miles away from trail running into her yet again. As we shared our adventures since first meeting her, she shared her own adventures with us, and her positive energy was as contagious as her smile. Needlesstosay, this serendipitous encounter started our day off on the most perfect foot. We exchanged our farewells, or "until next times" rather, and we headed down the street with a skip in our steps.
Walking through town, we reached the point where we needed to begin hitching back to trail. We stood on the side of the highway stuck our thumbs out and put on our best smiles. Nothing. Cars flew by, sometimes we would get as much as a wave back, other times nothing. We walked backwards down the shoulder continuing to stay in high spirits and good moods. Cars and trucks continued to pass by and nothing. Finally, we saw that wonderful turn signal switch on as a car pulled over to join us on the side of the road. A woman with deep brunette hair jumped out of the car and began clearing room for us in the passenger seat and in the back seat.
She was the epitome of beauty. As she spoke her voice embodied peace and serenity. Immediately, we felt safe and comforted, as if we had climbed into a car of a dear friend.
We do not often feel alone out here. However, life on the trail is far from familiar or consistent. Each day is different. Different people, different towns, different feelings. One day our shirts and socks are the most comfortable things in the world, other days we cannot stop fidgeting with them and we want to rip them to shreds. Our homes, our sense of selves, are our packs. They are with us all the time. Our family and friends are voices on the other end of the line. So when we can sit in a car with a stranger, and suddenly feel a rush of familiarity and groundedness, we knew we were in good company.
Her name was Holly, and our wait for a ride was well-worth it. She took us to Antonito, and along the way, we discussed everything from a brief look into spirituality, paddle-boarding, the potentials of our personal containers, and the idea of maintaining presence in our bodies through our time in nature. She had Critter at mentioning Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews, which is one of Critter's favorites books. Although the encounter was quick, riding in the car with Holly was incredibly meaningful and inspirational to both of us, She even gave us a sample of lip balm from her company, Luscious Organics, based out of Indiana. Arriving at a fork in the road, we were headed right towards Chama and she was headed left towards Santa Fe. We exchanged contact information and the thought of meeting up in the future to trade SUP lessons for skincare products, and off she went.
Thumbs out! It was time for hitch, round two. Like before, we threw out our thumbs. Nothing. And nothing. Nothing. Nada. Then, BOOM. A car pulls over to the side of the road. On the back window, we immediately noticed an Arizona Trail sticker. We sat down in the car, where we were greeted by a sharp-looking man who was in route back to Phoenix. He put his car in drive and hoped back onto the road. We embarked on yet another amazing hitch with a fascinating and friendly stranger. He took us back to trail, where we exchanged information and wished each other safe travels. We are absolutely humbled by the people we meet out here, by their generosity and interest in our adventure and willingness to share their own stories. Words cannot describe how much these interactions, although brief, mean to us and the story we are building as we hike.
We have arrived back to trail, with the easiest part of our day before us. All we had to do was walk. Following a dirt road, we were headed to Platoro. Instead of following snowy ridges towering over 12,000 feet, we now were following a beautifully green valley. The eyes of the aspens watched us as we triumphantly passed, and storm clouds billowed over the mountain peaks. We got to camp right in time for a downpour and thunderstorm to blow through, but warm and dry in our tent we processed our day and fell into a needed sleep.
Cheers to serendipity.
Garbelly & Critter