From Kremmling the only way to travel right by the Colorado River, is to take the train, whose tracks run right next to it though the Canyons from here to Glenwood Springs. My original plan had been to run the river from here with Zach and Anna from Kokopelli. But that won’t be possible, as the river is frozen in many places and ice-dammed in others. So I decide to take the train.
I get breakfast at Kremmling “Big Shooter” Cafe. I enter the cosy and cool little place and am greeted by two locals having coffee. The guy turns to me and says “so you are the one traveling the Colorado River, huh?”. News travel fast in this town… I smile. “Yep, that would be me.” It feels familiar, a bit like in the little Bavarian mountain town I grew up in.
I get a coffee and am excited to find that they use raw pasta as stirring sticks. What a great idea and what a cool alternative to the plastic I usually find.
Then I sit down at the table with the guy who introduces himself as Jeff. The mood in the cafe is chatty and very friendly. Everyone knows everyone in this town and Jeff now tells me all about it… Him and Kim, the liquor store owner whom I have dubbed the “queen of Kremmling”, are best buddies. After chatting for a while Jeff tells me why he thinks that the US need the border-wall to Mexico. To him, the wall is not about keeping the people out. “We have enough jobs here and we actually need the people to come in to work here.” He wants for the drugs to stay out. Drugs, particularly meth, are a big problem here, especially in the rural towns. In his opinion the wall can prevent drugs from coming in over the border, because it will make it much easier to check people coming in.
Queen Kim gives me a ride back to Granby, where I take the train. In the car she tells me about how she plans to get a tiny-house and travel around, now that her daughter is out of Highschool. She’s got such an abundance of positive energy, that I can totally see her do that and I hope she will.
The train ride along the Colorado River is marvelous. The frozen river meanders through the wide rocky landscape with the colors contrasting beautifully. I see lots of deer and a large herd of elk that is taking a break laying down on a frozen part of the river. The further west we go, the redder the rock gets. The snow on top of the red rocks is an unusual sight for me and looking out of the window, I wish it was possible to hike this section. But later on the train runs through a steep canyon and it becomes clear that I would have had to turn around pretty late on my way in. So instead I just continue enjoying the sights.
On my way I talk to Michelle. Married and divorced back in her early twenties, the local construction business owner now is a happy independent boss and self-confident hunter. She shows me pictures of herself with big guns, and invites me to come to the shooting range with her. She is sure I would love it… I am not so sure. Michelle tells me hunting-stories and how she woke up one winter-morning out there, which the tracks of a Mountain Lion all around her and the Elk she had shot the night before… She also tells me about how she would only shoot to have food for herself. One Moose means food for one year. Michelle says many hunters who come here from other states, like the mid-west or California just for trophy-hunting harm the animals and don’t kill them. It clearly makes her angry, and I understand that. What adds to the anger, is that according to her, the “out-of-state-hunters” are getting more hunting permits than the locals, because they have to pay more, so more money can be made. Generally, there are too many hunters now. Since they have to wear orange when they hunt, Michelle calls it “pumpkin patches”…
When I arrive in Glenwood Springs, I am excited to experience its historic atmosphere and I can imagine how it must have been back in the day, when Teddy Roosevelt, a big lover of the outdoors, came here a lot.
In the evening I go to soak in the pool of the local Hot Springs, another place rich in history. The Native American tribe of the Utes were the first known visitors to the mineral-rich hot springs that flowed along the banks of the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon. In 1888 the settlers built a resort there, which is now the world’s largest hot springs pool and obviously attracts tourists from near and far.
I go to bed feeling relaxed, but also confused somehow, as again I am sleeping in a hotel in town. I did not expect to be traveling like this, instead I expected more wilderness along the river. I calm myself down, try not to be so inpatient. I know this from earlier trips: I need to accept what is there, then I can actually really enjoy it.