Seemingly everything in this gulch, if it isn’t named silver this or silver that, is named argentine something. That doesn’t refer to the South American country, which one could easily think considering the creek on the other side of Argentine Pass is named Peru. Argentine is Latin for silver. The element Ag in your chemistry class. So there you go. This is where silver was discovered in Colorado over 100 years ago.
We’re up early this morning for trailhead coffee but skip the regular oatmeal. We’re hoping to find something open in Silver Plume. We drop down from Pavilion Point along three miles of the most perfect, picturesque running trail imaginable. The sides are lined with golden yellow and burning orange Aspen. The trail is buried in fallen leaves. The dirt is soft and the grade smooth because 100 years earlier it provided footing for a silver mine train. After the mines closed, the train carried tourists to McClellan Mountain. So many of the trails today in Colorado were once the routes to work for miners.
This morning’s hike feels anti-climatic. This is our third official day on the trail but we’re coming down from the Continental Divide. Could be I find these Aspen trees so spectacular because I’ve been above treeline for the last two days. Yesterday’s scrambling across a knife edge continues to thrill my memories. I tell La Plata I want to complete that ridge with him when he returns.
The trail bottoms out in Silver Plume at exit 226. That suggests we have a five mile walk to Bakerville. That’s fine, it will be easy hiking at relatively low altitude. We enter the sleepy town looking for anything open. La Plata queries a garage mechanic for water while I encounter a hotel proprietor and engage her in a conversation. This pleasant lady owns the Windsor Hotel B&B and instructs me to turn right on Main Street in search of the best bakery ever. George and I recover La Plata from the garage and we walk down Main Street. We don’t find the bakery (maybe she said turn left) but discover the Silver Plume Tea Room instead. They are closed for a party but forgot to lock the door and we wander in. They graciously feed us thinking we might be gone before their brunch party begins. Their food is incredible. I have waffles with walnuts and drink copious amounts of flavorful coffee. We take turns resupplying our camelbaks with water from their restroom, and leave after having pie for desert.
We hike the service road to the Bakerville exit, leaving just three miles to our truck parked up a steep jeep road at the Gray’s Trailhead. La Plata and I leave our backpacks with George at the overflow parking lot to make a quick run up to our truck. We estimate we can manage a 2 mph pace if we don’t stop. That will get us there in 90 minutes. Instead, we get competitive and race up in 44 minutes. A 4 mph pace. A totally satisfying way to end our three days on the trail. Next, we pick up La Plata’s truck and quaff some beers and lunch at the Breckenridge Brewery. After, I drop George off at DIA and head home to finish the weekend with family.
Backpacking might not be the most logical weekend training regimen to prepare for the Denver Marathon. I sort of think it is. My legs are exhausted. I’ll know for sure in a few weeks.