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Day 93: 10/25/17 New day: Ridgway State Park to Montrose,CO

Miles: 21 Steps: 41,058 Vertical gain: Strava Knows Liquid consumed: 160 oz. Wildlife: Dogs, llamas (maybe Alpacas, not sure of the difference), goats, horses, whole bunch of deer when I left my campsite, birds, cattle Faith in Humanity: watched a Taco Bell employee work really hard to seep the floors, clean tables, take out the garbage and really be on top of it! Well, another day has passed! I got pretty cold the last couple of nights even though it’s not really THAT cold out, dropping to a bit below freezing, high 20s or so. In some ways I’m glad this happened, so I can attack the issue head on when I get to Aspen in less than a week(!). Here’s what I’ve learned backpacking: -It sucks being cold, especially at night in your tent! - If you cheap out on gear you’ll regret it. This certainly isn’t true for everything but for a lot of backpacking brand and quality matter a lot! -A warm Blake is a happy Blake, so why not Strategy for warmth: 1) new down jacket: very puffy with big hood. Mom bought for me as early Xmas present with my pro deal discounts. Thanks Mom! Patagonia Fitz Roy Park. As one reviewer called it: “the Ferrari of Puffys” 2) Down booties: keep my feet nice and toasty! I have Western Mountaineering standard booties. 3) Vapor Barrier Liners (VBL): since ill be spending A LOT of time in my sleeping bag, this non breathable layer will be worn to prevent my sweat from getting into my jackets or sleeping bag. Over time this sweat makes the down wet and this less warm. VBLs help solve that. 4) Sleeping Pad: going double pad style: I may try to find a lighter under-pad, then an inflatable (so scared of popping it!) Neoair X Lite 5) Better gloves: RBH Designs makes some amazing VBL mittens. I didn’t think I’d need them until next winter, but I’m Adding them to my setup now. 6) balaclava, insulated: adding this one to sleep in and maybe hike in, though I avoid hiking in it too much as I look like a bank robber or something. Using OR Gorilla Mask I believe it’s called 7) New Sleeping Bag! Expensive! Western Mountaineering Kodiak GWS 0 degree! This is quite a step up from the bag I have and is quite roomy to accommodate all of my other layers of needed.

Honestly this is a bit overkill given everything else I have, BUT, I’m confident this will work for next winter too, so that’s exciting! Western Mountaineering makes incredibly high quality products and has been focusing only on down sleeping bags and some garments for over 30 years. I truly respect them and really wish other companies focused on such a high level of quality. Sure, they’re expensive but they truly are a notch above almost every other competitor. Haha, my not so often used trail name of Deluxe certainly applies to my opulent, somewhat excessive style. But: attack it on all sides. If I know that no matter what I can set up my tent and be super warm, Its totally worth it. Many people try to push the limit backpacking to go as light as possible. That’s good, but to me, I like to reduce stress as much as possible. Being scared of a cold front and having to change my route to bail off trail just isn’t appealing to me. I’d rather just carry a few extra pounds and know that I’m good! Ok, so I left the State Park and hot the highway. What started off as large shoulders quickly disappeared to no shoulders with high traffic and a 60mph speed limit. Not ideal but thankfully after a few miles the shoulder came back, then there was a dirt frontage road for quite a few miles which was really nice! Hard road today for using the restroom! I found a spot once to pee and was Helly to find it! Eventually I got into town: Montrose, CO. This is really the first town I’d seen quite a few homeless people in. It made me think that I look like them in some ways due to my huge pack and walking on a busy highway as I was. Interesting I suppose... I ate at Taco Bell which was cheap and tasty (I know this probably makes some people cringe, but $/calorie is what I go for most of the time). Cheapest option available: yup, sign me up! I know lots disagree with this, but in my opinion so many people are overly picky and critical about food. In my mind, those of us who can afford to go to restaurants and pay someone else to make us food are extremely lucky! Might not feel like it, but paying to be served a meal is not something everyone in the world is guaranteed at all. Think about that next time you complain about when the medium rare steak comes out medium. It’s not that big a deal! Rant over. Hit up the grocery store next, then made my way to the Montrose KOA. On the way, however, there were some super cheap hotels! Campsites were like $30 so I thought if o could spend less than $20 more I’d go for it. Haven’t done laundry in over a week either. I did feel a little guilty not going for that “cheapest option available” especially after my rant in the previous paragraph, but for $45 I found a hotel. Really was nice too, even had free breakfast that sounds like it’ll be pretty good! I planned a party for when I’m in Aspen. Sometimes I’m not the best party planner when it comes to myself, but why not meet up with a bunch of people for a couple drinks and food and fun? Met some cool people at the laundromat which was nice! One gentleman had lived in Aspen and was really cool to talk to for quite a while. There was also a nice woman in there. Thanks for being such cool people!

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