Six cups of coffee, a slice of blueberry, and a handwritten map to the Toaster House– Pie Town’s other half. Nita raised five kids in this house, on wood stoves and a lot of love, and she’d take in CDT hikers as they ambled by. The kids are grown and gone, but the hikers still pass, as do the cyclists, and they are all welcome. Nita now lives on some acres out of town, but the house in town is an organism of travellers, sharing their energy and stories. “It’s the one with the toasters hanging above the gate…”. There are no more than 15 houses in town.
The Great Divide and the CDT both arrive via a nondescript washboarded road from the north. Motorists arrive via Hwy or “Pie-way” 60, from the east or west, cresting the Continental Divide– the big hill– at 8000 ft. A tri-color sign draws attention away from the vista, plainly exclaiming “Stop”. This is the Pie-o-neer Cafe, serving warm pie and directions to a warm bed for the night. This, is Pie Town.
I was lucky to meet three CDT hikers on the last leg(s) of their trek; the CDT is a feat compared to the leisure of Great Divide riding. They eat, insatiably, everything in sight, which isn’t a problem six days out of the week they spend in the woods. And on the seventh day…
We were invited to attend a gathering of friends, after-hours at the Pie-o-neer: feasting on live music and hors d’ouevres, casserole (like pie, really), drinks, and fresh pies for dessert. Back at the Toaster House, Nita stocks the ice box with frozen pizza (pies) and small frozen fruit pies. The hikers were in food heaven. This is Pie Town.
The smoke and mirrors: Michael, the understated dishwasher by day, is an accomplished visual artist whose paintings are on display in the attached gallery, and in notable galleries worldwide. By night, he fingers the guitar, blending styles and making friends as wine bottles lay empty, and the musical ensemble gains members. The guy playing the upright bass made your sandwich. And the woman singing out front, Kathy, the pies.
Pie Town is unreal.
Note: In 2007, Nita was recognized by the ACA for her unending hospitality with the June Curry Trail Angel award. June Curry has been dishing out homemade cookies to cyclists along the TransAm Route since 1976.