Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2013 (Denver to Colorado Springs)
Time: About 1:30
Wait: Well… a long freakin’ time.
I hitch out from Lincoln stop and bring my cardboard sign since I forgot my new and improved, better fluorescent orange sign in my school locker. I lost count of cars at Lincoln exit after about the 200th car, and it’s starting to rain good as the saturated blue cloud approaches from the distance. Nobody seems to care– half of them don’t even notice me. Still, one has to stay positive to accomplish anything in life, even getting a lift while hitching– but it would be non-genuine to claim that it’s easy to maintain this mentality at all times.
Finally, after two hours of waiting I grow tired of relying on other people and restless of standing in the same spot, so I decide to move. I just move forward and start hiking along the grass along the side of the highway, jumping over 20 barbwire fences, hopping over creeks and avoiding falling off of sheer cliffs. It feels good to move anyways– it’s the standing in one spot and facing the fact that many people simply do not care that can get at one’s spirits if you’re not careful. Movement is the solution to this problem.
I end up finding a creek I never knew existed beyond the rolling hills alongside the highway, just two miles or so south of Lincoln exit. I take off my shoes and socks and walk through the cold creek barefoot. Thousands of water bugs scatter as I move along the untraveled creek, outside the animals. The only recent tracks I find are of deer and raccoon mostly. Arms of branches reach out across the creek and grab at me, and I pry them away with my arms. I find a dead raccoon floating in the creek, which must had died recently– as recent as last night based on the condition of the body. Not a pleasant addition to the scenery– but natures not always kind to every living creature.
At one point, I manage to drop my cell phone into the cold creek and my old, beat-up cell phone meets its demise as the water channels into the circuitry and renders the plastic worthless. I’ll have to deal with this later.
An hour or so later, I reach a deep crevice where the land drops off sharp and water empties into the creek from city pipes– I put my shoes back on and eventually manage to get a running start and maintain my balance without falling backwards and make it to the top. At the top, there is another barbwire fence, which I jump, but not without managing to snag my shorts a bit.
I walk another two miles or so until I finally reach another exit and nature gives way to man-made structures of the likes of Wendy’s and Subway. I go inside Wendy’s and order a Frosty and two burgers, which I devour with my increased appetite after the unplanned hike.
I set out to hitch again at the new spot, and about 30 minutes later, a guy does pull over and gives me a lift a few exits south to Castle Rock. ” I once hiked to the top of Pike’s Peak and hitch hiked on the way down,” Brad tells me. ” My wife and I were in an argument at the time, so she ignored my calls and wouldn’t pick me up. This old lady stopped after about two minutes with my thumb out and said, ‘Are you crazy?’ I told her, ‘No.’ Then she says, ‘ Well hop in!”
I don’t learn much else about Brad in the five minutes I spend in his truck, but he of course seems like a genuine, real dude. He did pick up a hitchhiker after all.
He drops me off at an exit at the start of Castle Rock, which I quickly learn in a poor merge for hitching, so I continue walking along a paved trail to the next exit that I usually hitch out of, which I know is solid conditions. I end up having to cross over the highway bridge from underneath at one point to get back onto the trail, climbing over large jagged rocks as cars zip over my head at 70 plus miles per hour. Below the bridge, it sounds like a different world, like some eerie afterlife scenario out of the Twilight Zone. Zzzzzzrrrrrr… Zzzzzrrrrr. It sounds like I’m about to get run over as I crawl across the rocks, passed discarded beer cans from squatting hobos and an abandoned, slightly rusty bicycle.
By the time I finally make it to Castle Rock exit, it’s nearly dark and it takes about 45 minutes for a couple nice women to pull over and offer me a ride. The younger gal introduces herself as Cassy, and her mother sits in the driver’s seat. I learn that Cassie enjoys riding horses on their ranch, and she often does competitions for fun, mostly involving jumping over 3 to 5 feet structures while going up to 40 miles per hour on the horse. “It can be dangerous,” Cassie says, ” but it’s quite the adreneline rush.”
Her mother talks about how she enjoys painting, and often while she paints she will listen to the show ID on TV, about hitch hikers that have come up missing recently. ” They say the highest percentage of serial killers hideout in Oregon and Washington,” her mother says, ” my other daughter is in Oregon right now.” She takes her phone and shows me exactly where she is, somewhere in a thickly-forested state park.
They both turn out to be the nicest ladies on the planet, and drop me off right at my brother’s place. I hook them up with a free copy of my book Hitchiking Colorado: Thumbs Up Experiences Riding With Strangers.
Later, I find out that I left my camera in their vehicle also, so I’m hoping that they will contact me and return it. That said, photos soon to come…