A Trio, Wet, Cold, Euphoria, Storms
Gunnison to Lake City
The rest of day 15
CT Day 15: Dry camping area mi 288.2 to dry camping spot at mi 312.2. Hiked 24 miles (elev: 9,640 ft)
After scooping up Red Stripe and taking a nice break in the car (out of the sun), the three of us (Bean, Red Stripe and I) hit the trail. It felt so inspiring to be out there with two other incredibly badass women who had thru hiked the Appalachian Trail already as well! It was a very hot and sunny day and we had a lot of easy terrain, so we stuck together and chatted the whole way. The trail was super hot and exposed. Bean and I had already hiked 14 miles, so we had another 10 ahead of us for the day.
We took a long break at the one and only water stop where we would fill up for the night and next morning as well. It was so hot at the water stop that we weren't in a huge hurry to get hiking again.
The miles flew by this day since we were all catching up with one another. It was a more social day which was nice because the terrain allowed for easy walking and talking.
Towards the end of the day we accidentally missed the trail and probably added an additional 0.6 miles to the day.
CT Day 16: Dry camping spot at mi 312.2. to Cochetopa Creek (mi 337.8). Hiked 25.6 miles (elev: 11,747 ft)
I had descent sleep last night until I woke up at 3:00 am and had to pee. The stars were absolutely incredible! Then a mosquito got in my tent as I was getting back in and it caused me to stay awake for quite some time trying to kill it without clapping too loudly as I was tenting pretty close to others. I had a hard time waking up because I had finally fallen asleep again and just wanted to keep sleeping! Bean and Red Stripe are quick in the mornings and were both ready with packs on before 6:30!
They started hiking and I got on trail by 6:29 am, which I was proud of. We all kind of yo-yo in the morning with bathroom stops etc, so we all caught up or stayed within eye sight of each other. The elevation profile for the day looked easy, but the day seemed like it would mostly be exposed trail. If it was anything like the day before that meant blistering sun and heat.
The first 14 miles to lunch were super easy miles. Relatively flat, amazing cloud coverage for sun protection, and a lot of it was Jeep road. The views were vast and beautiful and we were SO eternally grateful for the cloud coverage.
When we got to Cochetopa Creek (our designated lunch spot at 14 miles) the bridge was out so we had to ford the river. The water was moving pretty swiftly. We crossed cautiously which meant our feet were getting colder and colder. The freezing cold feeling in my feet and legs was so painful I was making audible sounds. I tried going quickly at the end where it was deeper and swifter and my pole got sucked by the force of the water tipping me slightly off balance but I was able to get across dry. The same was not true for Red Stripe. She went for the deeper waters as a shortcut and it caused her to fall! She was so shocked she kind of froze and didn’t make a sound. The look in her eyes made it seem like she lost something in the fall. She was worried she lost her phone because her front pouch wasn’t zipped shut. It was hard for her to get up with her pack on her waist but she was finally able to get up and get out of the water. Her shorts were soaked, her pack wet (but luckily water resistant!) and we were all shaken up. She didn’t get hurt at all, nothing got lost, and all the contents inside her pack were totally dry! PHEW! What a scare!
Lunch by the river was HOT. So scorching hot I decided to take a dip and cool off. I even soaked my shirt to have a wet/cool shirt for the afternoon hiking.
For maybe 1 mile we experienced hot and sunny walking after lunch, but lovely cloud coverage rolled in.
A few miles later this cloud coverage turned into a light drizzle and the temperature began drastically cooling off. I put on my rain jacket and pack cover and kept hiking.
With about 5 miles left things started to get really wet. The ground and grass was so wet that it didn’t take long for my feet to get soaking wet and begin sloshing around in my shoes. I think all three of us had a little PTSD from the AT and were instantly mad about the wet ground and marshy trail causing us to have wet feet like on the AT! We had paid our dues last year - come on! It was just dreary and wet for the entire afternoon.
We got to our camping spot before 6 pm and set up the tents in the drizzle. I should have paid more attention to my selection because I chose a really lumpy spot and my z rest sleeping pad isn’t too thick so I feel it all. People with air mattresses have an advantage with tent spot selection because you don’t feel the rocks and lumps as much.
I was freezing, wet, tired and hungry! I sat on my pack cover in my shorts and rain jacket and cooked ramen. I was so impatient to eat/drink it I burned my hands and my tongue in the process. It hit the spot. I then got in my tent and changed into warm dry socks and warm dry clothes. My feet stayed cold and numb for hours and it was tough to get comfortable on the lumpy ground.
This is the second full day without any cell service. It is nice to be unplugged and be so remote. I am enjoying every last bit of lack of connectivity and societal stimulation while soaking up the smells, sounds, and spectacular sights of the natural world. The flowers sprinkled along the trail and all throughout the meadows have given me great comfort and make me smile and feel loved. I thank the universe every morning for giving me so many bouquets of flowers. I need them right now, and it feels like Mother Nature is giving me endless love with her flowers.
CT Day 17: Cochetopa Creek (mi 337.8) to Lake City. Hiked 20 miles (elev: 8,600 ft)
Omg today was so ridiculously epic on so many accounts. I think I had adrenaline pumping through me most of the day.
Red stripe was struggling with altitude stuff this morning - generally just feeling tired and having some difficulty breathing in the steeper climbs. It’s steep and high altitude so it makes sense.
The morning hike up to San Luis Peak (which is a 14er we opted not to summit today as it was a few miles on a side trail and we are on a bit of a tight schedule), was ABSOLUTELY epic. The sunrise, the colors, the greens, the mountains! We felt like we were back on the Colorado trail again! Yesterday felt like an Appalachian Trail slog fest, and the last few days felt sort of like “junk miles” (of course they have their own elure and allow the mind to truly center and meditate in a more neutral zone without all the highs and lows).
Pictures can’t even do this morning justice. It truly just had me blown away. It has been my favorite day thus far. Perhaps the drudgery of the previous days helped me to truly appreciate the spectacular epic-ness of today.
When we got to the high point for this section (and the highest point on trail so far at 12.8k ft), I sat down and just truly took it all in. Every time I turned to look in a different direction the clouds had changed and the view was different. The euphoria was real.