Walking up in a dense aspen forest, we were surprised that we were not visited by critters during the night or if we were they left no sign. We had the drumming of the nearby creek to wash over our minds and rock us to sleep.
We had a bit of a climb for the first part of the day. The trail switched back and forth through the aspens. Upon arriving to the top of the first part, Garbelly realized he had drop his sunglasses so sitting his pack down he picked up a running pace back down the mountain. 2,000 feet of climbing and fifteen minutes later he was back at the top, sunglasses in hand, and ready to hike on. We arrived at a crystal clear creek snaking through the tall grass of a meadow. We kept our eyes peeled for fishy shawdows, but saw no movement along the rocks and sand.
Following the valley we climbed up to a forest service road that we then followed before ending at another meadow on the opposite side of the ridge. The road ended and we were back on trail. In the mud, there were fresh bear tracks that disappeared into the grass. By the time we arrived, all we found was a quiet meadow.
We began a steep descent down the other side of the mountain where a spring bubbled up and followed us all the way down before joining with Deep Creek. The trail was well maintained and even went over scree fields hugging the sides of scree and stacked cliffs. As we got closer to the town of Creede, we passed a mountain bikers hitting the trail before dinner. He mentioned the success of the Nashville Predators and told us that he would be eating pizza later and would buy us a drink. He said "pizza" and that was all we needed to hear to kick it into fifth gear.
We quickly continued down the trail which eventually ended at a road. The road took us into Creede, an adorable old mining town tucked in between two unbelievable rocky cliffs. Walking through town, we were greeted by small fly shops, art shops, and old store fronts. Sitting down on a bench near two other hikers, we started searching for our best room option for the night. A man popped out of the door of the building we were sitting underneath, he greeted us and then turned to let the other two hikers into their room that they had reserved through AirBnB.
Afterwards, almost jokingly he asked us if we were looking for a place to stay. Timing is a funny and beautiful thing. He took us up to two rooms he had available and let us pick. It was the most perfect case of being in the right place at the right time. Jim and Anna, of the Aspen Inn and Finding Gems, were so welcoming to us and the room was perfect. The building maintained the old rustic charm with updated furniture, large windows, exposed brick, and beautiful hardwood floors. Prints of aspens covered one wall in our room reminding us of the night before among the aspen forest.
We grabbed pizza at the pizzeria, which was easily our favorite pizza on trail so far. We ordered a pizza with roasted beets, feta, caramelized onions, and arugula. Our salad was equally as tasty and even had blackberries and pear slices among the greens. On top of that, our mountain biker friend came over to talk to us and without knowing, payed for our drinks. The trail continued to provide us with incredible people and good fortune. After dinner, we could not get over how just simply content we were with the whole day.
As we passed by the window of Finding Gems, Jim waved us to swing inside. The shop, an ice cream parlor and gem shop had only opened two weeks prior. He was working on hanging signs and oraganizing his record collection while Anna worked on her jewelry. Jim showed us the rocks and gems he had collected, and he even gave us two pieces, a piece of petrified wood and an arrowhead carved from fluorite. We spent an hour there sharing stories and asking questions. The sun began to fade leaving a pink glow in the sky. The lights were dim except for the light over Anna's work table and the light illuminating the gem case.
Cheers to those moments where everything seems to be in its right place.
Garbelly & Critter