TransAmerica Trail – Day 16

La Vita CO to Salida CO

The weatherman was wrong, it probably didn’t get below the 60’s last night so we had to toss off the sleeping bag. We slept in until nearly 7:30, showered and made breakfast from leftover tater tot nachos with an egg on top.

After breaking camp we headed north from La Vita on the highway for about 10 miles before turning off on the trail again. Immediately we began driving into the mountains. It’s hard to even describe the drive, it was twisting and turning as we climbed from 6000 to over 10,000 feet elevation. Much of the drive was through a layer of aspens in full autumn colors, they looked golden and shimmered in the sun. We stopped on one high pass next to an outcropping of rocks and sat our chairs on the edge of the shelf looking down on the valley way below. There were few individual things to pick out on the drive it was more and more of the same around every turn and it never got boring.

We stopped at a tall outcropping high up on the pass overlooking the valley below and had lunch along the edge. It would have been easy to sit here all day long.

We arrived in Salida in the mid-afternoon and set out to find a camping spot but didn’t have much luck, weekends are just too busy. Drove back into town, parked and just walked around. It was a wonderful artsy town that billed itself as the heart of the Rockies and looking around it was hard to argue. The Arkansas River ran through town with lots of white water rapids. Lots of galleries to walk in and out of.

At Soulcraft Brewing we found the excellent Colorado beer we had been looking for. The problem is that when you aren’t used to this altitude one or two beers go to your head really quick!

I left Soulcraft a bit woozy and went to another brewpub in town but just had water this time along with fish tacos and quite possibly the best french onion soup we’ve ever had. With full bellies we walked across the street to the park along the river. It was nearly dark but there were maybe a hundred people there, looked like some sort of party or reception. I sat at a picnic table and did a little work, you couldn’t ask for better atmosphere to work in.

After that we drove a couple miles out of town to Walmart and settled it for the night. The Jeep is set up for wild camping and we want to do that before the trip is over but Walmarts have real bathrooms all night long and that’s worth something!