Day 3. Curiously in love with small town USA

What a day. I am so tired and yet, there is so much to tell. Thinking back, I see it as having four chapters. I’ll jump into each chapter and do my best to tell it from the inside out.

I look outside the lodges window in the early morning. Light shades of red, orange and yellow shimmer across the frozen lake, promising a beautiful day. I quickly pack my stuff, anxious to jump into whatever lays ahead. day. A little later I hike along the quiet snow covered Shadow Mountain Lake, feeling the cold fresh air filling my lungs and enjoying the silence. It is only a short while though, before the first snowmobiles roar past me left and right, wiping the fresh air away and filling it with fuel fumes instead. I give up and leave the trail, now hiking along highway 34. Getting annoyed with that pretty soon, I start hitchhiking and the second car, an old Subaru stops.

A very young and friendly face with warm and smiling eyes greets me from a car packed with snowboard and camping gear. Zach is happy to take me along, and I immediately like his calm and quiet way. I tell him that I’d like to discover Granby Damm the first dam of the Colorado River. He immediately offers to take me there and beyond. We both get out of the car and climb the guard-rail, to get a closer look into the crevice the dams brutal structure forms at the far end of the lake. We both wonder how the dam works and imagine what it would be like to snowboard down the sides of the canyon below it. Then we drive to the end of the beautiful dirt-road, where we sit on the roof of the car for lunch. We both quietly admire the landscape with the mountains towering higher here, reminding me of the Alps. For the first time I feel how much I miss them. Zach and I get along, that much is clear and I truly enjoy sharing this moment with him. We talk about relationships and he tells me about that girl he met recently… I am moved that he confides in me and I am beginning to feel like an older sister already. Zach has time to spare and when he offers to show me another favorite route of his, I happily take him up on it. We soon drive through an incredibly beautiful landscape. A huge gold-eagle soars above us, I can tell by his white feathers on the bottom of his wings. I can feel its grace and magnificence deep within me. It is strangely fitting to 18-year old Zach’s character. He tells me about his dreams of traveling with horses and confides in me by granting me a deep insight into his tough family history. I am so impressed by this guy, whose character is way wiser than his age would suggest, while he fortunately is still a boy who does “a lot of pretty stupid shit” as he himself puts it. Zach takes me back to the Colorado River and I am somehow sad, when we hug each other good-bye. I helplessly wish him all the best, saying something stupidly insufficient like how I know he will have a great path in front of him…

The third chapter is me soaking in the natural pools of Hot Sulphur Springs, where Zach has dropped me off. Bald eagles soar above, while I sit in the sizzling hot water, with my wet hear freezing to a crunchy mass in the cold air. I watch them dive for prey and try to ignore the fully tattooed and heavily bearded snowmobile-tourists who loudly compare their mightily horse-powered machines while sitting next to a sign that says “quiet zone”… When I leave the place a few hours later, I smell like rotten eggs from the Sulphur, but feel fairly relaxed.

In the evening I arrive in Kremmling, which I immediately brand as my favorite town. It has a friendly small town atmosphere. I don’t feel comfortable camping out here though, as it all seems to be privately owned land and I am ashamed to ask if I can pitch my tent on someone’s grounds. But the first person I talk to, recommends a little hotel, and I end up booking a cheap and clean room in the simple and cozy little Hotel Eastin. Maryann and Walt, my friendly hosts, tell me their story and invite me to continue working on the 3000 piece puzzle they have lied out in the lobby. When my hunger for chocolate becomes unbearable, I cross the street to the local liquor store. Owner Kim turns out to be the queen of Kremmling. She is so excited when she hears about my story, that she not only offers me a pack of M&M’s, but also wants to give me a ride in the morning.

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