Monday, August 17th, 2020
It was a cold morning so were were moving pretty slow. Fortunately the first stretch was mellow terrain. I went ahead of Frisbee for a while and saw some cattle and wildlife. I saw a coyote sniffing around where the cattle were grazing. There were a lot of different birds, like hawks, Ruffed grouse and cackling Stellar’s jays. It was mostly cows though, which made finding good drinking water more challenging.
Our surroundings were mostly open fields, but there were a few short stretches where we were surrounded by short pines. We took a break for food and a guy I will name “Drone Dude” came up the Baldy Lake trail. He walked one mile round-trip to get water at the lake. I generally only walk extra mileage in an emergency or if there’s hot food at the other end. Neither of these situations applied, so I wasn’t moving. I’ll settle for cow poo water. Drone Dude told us how heavy his pack was and that he was carrying his drone with him for his hike. I bit my tongue when the thought of telling him that bringing a drone on a thru hike was 1) stupid, and 2) ditching it would lighten his load significantly.
We ran into the others and would get some cow poo water at Razor Creek before the climbs began. So much for our mellow morning. Frisbee and I were itching for a longer hiking day. I don’t think we’ve had a 30-miler this whole trip, so we weren’t stopping until we accomplished just that.
We ran into several familiar faces during the steep climbs. We saw Jafar cooking an omelette in the middle of the woods with Detective Baby Legs (one of the hipster hikers), hanging out watching him cook with fascination. It was quite interesting to see someone cook with a frying pan out here. The majority of hikers out here were looking to go as light as possible. Jafar was a whole different breed. He liked his creature comforts and I admired him for that. We also ran back into Chica and Sunsets, who we haven’t seen since Leadville. They were surprised that they saw us too. They figured we were well ahead of them. We told them how we got trapped in the Salida vortex.
We hoofed up some steep climbs. This would be the last big push until we reached the forest roads and crossed Highway 114. After crossing the highway, we took a break under the pines, trying to avoid the heat of the sun. Once we saw a storm approaching in the distance, we decided to continue onward. It began to rain while we were grabbing water from a creek. Jafar would pass us, but set up just ahead. That was where we had originally planned to camp before we committed to a 30-miler. We still had several miles to go.
The direction of the switchback strangely helped us dodge the two storms approaching us from both directions. We only got a sprinkle of rain, which was more refreshing than burdensome. We were approaching our last couple miles. But first, there was a super steep climb up which gave me Appalachian Trail (AT) flashbacks. My body was pre-conditioned for this. My experiences from the AT has made me feel more comfortable with steep ups versus the long, drudgery of switchbacks with wonky grades. In short, but fast spurts, I reached the top.
We passed through the gate and had nothing but fire roads ahead of us for the final stretch. We looked for anything that seemed reasonably flat, and found a spot just before witnessing an incredible sunset at mile 309.5. It was the first night in a long time where it was just the two of us.
30.9 miles (49.7 km)
Jump Ahead to The Colorado Trail: Part 17
Jump Back to The Colorado Trail: Part 15
Start from the Beginning: The Colorado Trail: Part 1