I was taking the light rail train home from downtown Denver on Wednesday when I met these two women with enormous back packs, and when I heard this one woman speak, I knew she was not from the United States. I thought about a few weeks ago when I had met a couple on the South Platte Trail that I walk almost every day, they were from England, and they asked me for directions of how to get to Waterton Canyon, the start of the Colorado Trail. I ended up giving that couple a ride to Waterton Canyon, saving them a 7 mile hike. So when I saw these two women with their massive back packs, I knew where they were going.
It was late in the afternoon, and storm clouds were moving in as they always do this time of year in Colorado. I struck up a conversation with the girls, and when they told me that their goal was to get to Chatfield State Park by evening, I asked if they would like a ride. They said “sure,” and we walked to my truck and loaded their gear in the back. I was wearing a suit and tie, so I guess I looked pretty respectable, but Hannah, the girl from Illinois, said that she had positive vibes about me, and was not worried about a stranger trying to help them out. Dieke (pronounced Deekee) was from Amsterdam, and she didn’t have any concerns at all about taking a ride in my truck.
As we drove to Chatfiled we talked about what brought them here, and it was a very interesting story. As with the couple I had met a few weeks ago, apparently people take the light rail to the Mineral Station and walk from there to the Colorado Trail. Deike had a really cool book that detailed all of the information that someone would need to know to hike the Colorado Trail, but it was not very good about showing how to get from the end of the light rail to the start of the trail at Wateron Canyon. Anyhow, I drove them to Chatfield State Park, and at the entrance there was a sign that said “Campground Full.” Hannah asked the attendant if there were any walk-in camp sites available, and the attendant said “No.”
I could sense the tone of dejection in Hannah and Deike, and I told them that I had a spare bedroom at my house five minutes away, and they were welcome to stay there for the night, and I would drive them to Waterton Canyon in the morning. They were very thankful for the offer, and we went to my house and got them settled into the guest room.
We walked over to a local restaurant and had dinner and some beers. Then we spent the evening getting to know each other, talking about stories and just general personality things. Dieke tried to teach my dog Buddy some Dutch words, and he actually seemed to respond to her. I think it was all about voice inflection, but it was funny to watch. She also tried to teach me a few words, but that is a hard language to understand I think.
We had a fun evening talking, drinking beers, and getting to know each other. Hannah is from a small town in Illinois, which I related to very much from my past. Deike had such a different perspective on the United States and our government; it is so different than where she is from, it was interesting to hear her perspective.
The next morning we got up early, at 6:00 AM, so I could drive them to the trail head and they could get on their way. As I helped them with their heavy packs and walked to the trailhead, I was a bit jealous that I would not be going on this 500 mile trek with them. Taking a trip like that takes a lot of courage, especially for two 24 year old women. And Dieke was so worried about mountain lions and lightening, but I tried to give advice about those things and make her feel better, at the same time telling her that mountain lions can smell peanut butter from up to a mile away, I was just giving her a hard time.
In a short amount of time, and through a totally random sequence of events, I made two new friends that day, and we seemed to bond quickly because of our mutual interests. Now I sit here at home wondering what they are doing now, wishing that I were with them. They promised to text me or call when they have phone service and let me know how things are going. Ironically I will be in Salida for a meeting with Colorado Parks & Wildlife at about the same time they should get there in two weeks. Our goal is to meet up then and reunite; I can’t wait to hear about their adventure!