I woke up early but still got over eight hours of sleep. Someone had turned the fan off in the bunkroom so I was hot up in my top bunk. I wanted to lay there all morning but decided I’d be more comfortable in the living room, and could charge my electronics there too. The Wanderlust Hostel has a big, inviting living room with lots of comfy chairs.

Checkout wasn’t until 11 and I planned to sit on the couch pretty much until then. I’m having trouble uploading my blogs with the WordPress app so that took forever. I eventually got up to dress, pack, clean my water filter, etc. Right before 11, my external battery finished charging so I strapped on my pack and stepped out the door.

I’d been told hitching at the edge of town by the McDonald’s was the best place so I had a mile walk down there. Gunnison is surprisingly big, with lots of traffic lights, so hitching after all the downtown cacophony is definitely easiest. I figured I may as well have lunch at McDonald’s before leaving town, but it’s never as good as I think it will be anymore. (Yes, I know McDonald’s food is objectively terrible, but I have fond memories.)

It’s a 38-mile hitch on two roads back to the trailhead, which implies it might be harder than a more straightforward, short hitch, but I got a ride within a minute on Route 50 up to Route 114, and then the first car going by on 114 took me up to the trailhead. Easy. Both guys who picked me up said something to the effect of, “well, you’re not too scary looking,” when I opened their car doors. I thought it was funny because they both were bigger guys who some people might consider scary looking. But they were both really nice and we had great conversation the whole way.

I was back at the trailhead earlier than expected due to the ease of hitching. I had to keep my speed up to meet Animal for her section of hiking, and now I have to slow down to meet a couple of other people next Saturday. I knew Apple the trail angel would likely be at Lujan Creek Trailhead in a few miles and I hoped to kill some time there.

The sunburn on my calves is starting to peel and not look as bad so I thought just sunscreen would be okay for today. The left leg still looked a little violently red in the sun though so I put my fish legs back on. Maybe I’ll be able to stop wearing them after the next town.

I stopped and filled up water at Lujan Creek because it looked like I’d have a dry section coming up and probably would dry camp tonight. Apple was at the trailhead, after all, so I could have filled up there too.

A couple of sobos were also hanging out, waiting for a ride to town from Apple, so I hung out for a couple of hours chatting. I also got info on the water sources and town coming up, which was great. Eventually though, I did need to get moving uphill.

The trail was back on single track with loose rocks and fine dirt but there were mostly nice switchbacks to climb up, just a few steep sections on the ridge walk I did. I hiked slowly for a couple of hours before camping, helped out by the abundant raspberries along the trail. They slowed me down for sure.

I saw plenty of great campsites but kept going until I found one not surrounded by dead trees. I managed to only hike 6.4 miles today. I did get up over 11000′ today and am camped just below that.

I had Jenn’s dehydrated goulash for dinner, which was delicious, then figured out some logistics for a friend meeting me later.

All in all, a very relaxing day!