Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Steamboat Springs to Grand Lake Colorado: CDT 2013

Random acts of kindness, love, compassion.

It was a tough hitch out of Steamboat Springs. I had been standing along highway 40 for about an hour with no luck getting a ride. The sun was out, but dark clouds were beginning to gather. I was hoping to get a ride up to Rabbit Ear Pass before the next batch of bad weather came through. A man on a bicycle who saw me on the highway about 45 minutes earlier stopped to tell me that I would have better luck about a mile down the road. There was another road that intersected with the 40, and many of the cars were turning there. If I walked past the intersection, at least I would be trying to get a ride from those only traveling along the 40. I hiked to the spot the man on the bicycle described, it was right next to a golf course. I extended my thumb for another hour, but still no luck. I could feel frustration begin to gather. It's not in my control.

It's interesting the states of mind we can choose to exist in. It seems we can choose to live in hellish, or heavenly states. That we do have control over. I could feel a hellish state of mind begin to gather, just like the storm clouds gathering behind me. I began to resent the people driving their fancy sports cars and SUV's and not giving a moments notice of me standing along the road. I had to remind myself that it's not their fault. Suddenly, a fancy new Range Rover pulled over to the side of the road. A woman rolled down her window on the passenger side.

"We can't give you a ride because we are not going where you are going," she exclaimed, "but here's 20 bucks!"
I politely refused the money and tried my best to explain that I had enough cash, that I was hiking the CDT and trying to get a ride to the pass, etc, etc. The more I tried to explain, the more it didn't make any sense to me either.
The couple in the Range Rover drove off, but I felt deeply humbled. We can live in a heavenly existence.

Shortly after that encounter, it began to rain. I didn't want to stand along the highway and get soaked so I decided to walk over to the golf course and maybe get something to eat at the snack bar. I knew I stuck out like a sore thumb, but I used to golf many years ago. I mustered up my courage and walked into the lobby. I walked up to the bar and asked the bar tender for a coke, told him I was hitching out on the highway trying to get to Rabbit Ear Pass, and asked if he minded if I sat out on the porch and waited out the storm.
"Of course not," the bartender responded. "The coke's on the house." I felt grateful for the act of kindness.

About a half hour later, the storm subsided and I left the golf course and stood back on the highway. Moments later, the most amazing and vivid rainbow I have ever seen appeared across the road. Misty clouds passed through the colors making the rainbow shimmer. The cars passed one by one. At least I had this unbelievable display of color to enjoy. I thanked the Creator, and felt taken care of.

After about three hours in all, a giant, red, semi tractor trailer pulled over to the side of the road. I didn't think the big trucks pulled over for hitch hikers. This was going to be my first ride ever in a semi.
"Hand me your bag, I'll throw it into the cab. My name's Chuck and this is Lucky." Chuck motioned down to his little lap dog that was standing on the passenger side floor. Lucky resembled Toto from the Wizard of Oz.
"Don't worry, she's had all of her shots."
Chuck had a big black beard and long hair and once played in metal bands in and around Austin. We talked about music while the truck rumbled up and down the mountain. Lucky chewed on my hands the whole ride, as if they were her favorite chewy toy.
20 minutes later, we reached the pass where I would resume hiking the CDT.
"Thanks a lot for the ride," I said as I was leaving the truck.
"No problem dude, just pay it forward."
Pay it forward, pay it forward. Again I was humbled and thankful. I need to remember to pay it forward.

The CDT followed the 40 for several miles and then turned left onto another road, the 14. There were less cars on the 14. Maybe one every several minutes. It was still drizzling from time to time, dark clouds were forming here and there. The sun was beginning to set and it was getting cold. The CDT was going to follow the 14 for at least 7 more miles or so. As the sun went down, the sky put on an amazing display of color. Again, I gave thanks to the Creator. Even though it was tough walking, I felt taken care of. All of a sudden, another car stopped. A young guy sporting a blond goatee and a ball cap rolled down his window.
"Are you OK dude?"
"Yeah, doing great," I responded.
"All right, just checking," the guy replied.
I knew I needed to remember these acts of kindness, given to a complete stranger. Again, we can live in a heavenly existence.

I set up my shelter about 20 yards from the 14, next to an electric fence. This was going to be one of my more unique campsites. After cooking dinner, it began to rain again. I crawled into my warm sleeping bag, and listened as an occasional car sped by on the highway. I can't believe how loud cars can be! As I drifted off to sleep, I heard the distant bugling sound of a male elk, searching for mate on a nearby hillside. Pay it forward...

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