Long before daylight we all woke and performed our daily rituals of brewing up some hot water for coffee, consuming calories as best we could, and packing up. There was a collective sense of immediacy for breaking camp and getting on with our hike, we knew if we stayed disciplined and the trail didn’t throw us any curve balls we could end our day on Paisley and get a much-needed shower and warm bed for the night. We set off by headlamp down the road for a 1/2 mile and then turned into the woods.
It was cold this morning and we all walked in our layers hoping that hiking would warm us up. We stopped by a small stream to fill our water up for the day, our data indicated this would one of the few reliable sources for most of the day so we loaded up what we thought we would need. As we waited for our water to filter we all ate snacks and carried on. The trail was lovely this morning, a single track of soft ground through a forest. The Fremont National Recreation Trail has been a wonderful break from the previous cross-country travel through the desert, we joked that we were really enjoying our vacation from the ODT.
The trail climbed until we reached a series of ridges to follow along through the mountains, off in the distance we could see the Avery Peak fire tower. Before reaching that though we judged the time we were making and all agreed to push it as hard as we could to make it to Paisley and get. Shower and hopefully laundry. I had a cell signal so I called the hotel, the room was still available and after explaining our situation the owner agreed to leave us some extra soda and shampoo for showers and even said she would put out some dark colored towels and washcloths for us, I’m sure this was as much for our benefit as it was for her’s so we wouldn’t destroy the typical white linens of a hotel.
After passing Avery Peak Salty and I were a little ways ahead of Swept Away, as we walked my phone buzzed and I got a call from my good friend Lucky, who I had started the CDT with back in 2016. Lucky told me he was headed to Eastern Oregon on his way to California for a rockhounding trip, and he said, “I want to come trail magic you!” Well not wanting to be rude I informed Lucky of our plan and he then asked us for request…”Fresh fruit and Veggies please, oh and some laundry detergent”
We ended the call with Lucky, sent him the map of our route and Salty and I decided to leave Swept Away in the dark and give her a big surprise of Lucky arriving. We stopped a little way down the trail and enjoyed a nice lunch, the three of chatted about the hiking so far and our desires for taking a shower and laundry…If you have ever hiked for 500 miles and not done laundry than you know the stank of our clothes and the hard sandpaper like texture they have taken on. After eating we gave a quick time check, there on our packs and pushed on. The trail wind downhill as we descended towards the Chewocan River. We walked through stands of pines and aspen aglow in fall colors, there were even patches of Oak Trees and I easily could have been hiking in CO or NM. We finally reached the river and crossed the bridge at 5 pm. We all stopped for a quick fill of water and one last snack before we set off on our 8-mile paved road walk into town.
We joked and talked as the miles of pavement quickly passed by under our feet. We met a nice lady walking along the road and she asked, “Are you hiking the ODT?” It turned out she owns the Saloon in town, we said we were heading there to eat and she informed us it was closed today, man we just can’t catch a break when it comes to eating in town. Oh well, we all have plenty of food so we carried on.
The sun slipped behind the mountains and the sky began to put on its evening light show of colors right as we reached the far end of town. We walked along the road and right as the day turned to night a slick looking Audio pulled up to us, I leaned in my head and gave Lucky a big old hug, Swept Away caught up and looked at me like I was crazy. “Swept Away and Salty, meet my good friend Lucky from the CDT”. Swept Away was floored when we told her we had kept this secret to surprise her, and she was all smiles when Lucky informed us he had a cornucopia of food for us. We all headed to the hotel.
We entered a large room, large is an understatement. The room had 2 queen beds, a table and kitchenette, a large bathroom and a couch to relax on. We all dropped our gear and Lucky brought out the treats. Subway sandwiches, chips aplenty, fresh tomatoes from his garden and large salad form his garden too. He even had homage yogurt sauce with cucumbers and ciders and beers for all of us. It was the best trail magic we could ask for especially since the town was totally shut down when we arrived.
I drew the first shower, and I was thrilled to do so. I quickly stripped down and entered the hot shower. I stood there for a minute just savoring the warm water as it rushed over my body. Shampoo, conditioner, rinse and repeat. Then with all the scrubbing power, I could muster, I worked up a rich lather with the washcloth and started to remove the layers of grime that had accumulated on me over the past 3 1/2 weeks. 20 minutes later I exited the shower feeling like a new person. I slipped into my rain jacket and wind pants and walked into the room aglow with the feeling of a freshly cleaned body.
I gathered up all of our laundry and Lucky and I left for the laundry facility down the road, leaving the girls to shower and relax in peace and quiet.
Lucky and I hung out in the laundry facility with its ancient washers and dryers and started the labors process of laundry. I had to spend about 15 minutes pre-rising our socks to remove as much grit and dirt as I could before putting them in the washer. This little trick helps get hiking socks clean and soft if one skips this step the socks come out as hard as a board because the dirt becomes cement during the washing.
As the laundry spun around Lucky and I caught up on life post-CDT. Lucky is a vet who served as an Army Ranger in Iraq and also graduated from West Point. In 2016 I had the pleasure of hiking with him through NM when we all started the CDT. Luck was part of a program called the Warrior Expeditions which helps vets returning from war a way to walk off the war and regain a sense of peace and self. Lucky was one of the greatest guys I met that year and we have stayed friends ever since then. It was great drinking beers and catching up on life as we waited for the clothes to finish.
Once the laundry was done we headed back to the room. It was way past hiker midnight, but we all hung out a little while longer and enjoyed one more drink and dessert before turning in for the night, girls in one bed, boys in another. As we drifted off to sleep I smiled with the joy of having such great friends to hike with and have support from along the adventures that I take.