Colorado Trail Day 21: Halfway There!

Daily Neet Beat

Last night it poured rain for at least 3 hours. We camped down by the Angel of Shavano campground.

Wet camp in the morning at the North Fork of the South Arkansas River

The campground is named after an image of an angel that appears in the snow in the late spring and early winter on Shavano Mountain.  It was not visible when we are there so we do not get a picture of it. The Angel of Shavano campground is considered to be one of the best kept secrets in the state with wooded campsites and great fishing, hiking and biking. It is about 15 miles from Salida.

Dusky Grouse on the trail

Today we are planning to go about 15.5 miles (we end up hiking 17.7 miles) passing through US50 near Monarch Pass, taking the Fooses Creek trail, up and over the continental divide and down towards Marshall Pass.  This is a part of the trail that is heavily used by mountain bikes.

Fooses Creek Trailhead just south of US50 and west of Salida

After packing up our tent wet, we leave around 6am. Some people choose to leave later and dry out their tents. But that is not our approach. Both Ray and I prefer to hike as soon as it is light when it is cooler and get as many miles behind us in the morning. In Colorado in July we get a “monsoon” season with afternoon thunderstorms. Downpours come quick and fierce and you don’t want to be above tree line when there is lightning. We also like to get as much hiking done in the morning because if the rainstorms are not happening it can be very hot in late afternoon.

Dew drops on an aspen leave from all the moisture. So pretty!

We hike through areas where the Forest Service is thinning out the trees. This is an active effort to manage the Forests to reduce fire danger. We have seen large stands of dead trees which increase the risk of larger and hotter wildfires. I am glad to see some active management.

Ray standing in front of a large slash pile of cut down trees

We then hike across US50 which was in my Region when I was a Transportation Director for the Colorado Department of Transportation. Makes me feel like we have walked a long ways as I was responsible for the southwest part of Colorado and we started walking in Denver which is in central Colorado. Well, we have walked a long ways. Today we officially passed the 250-mile point. We are halfway!!!

The Simpson’s hedgehog cactus (Pediocactus simpsonii)

We reach the Continental Divide trail and the views are spectacular. It is early afternoon and the clouds are threatening. This is it a ridge I would not want to be on in lightning storm.

Ray and I on the Continental Divide.

We wander on down for a few more miles and get the tent set up to dry it around 4pm. Then, of course, we get a hail storm. Welcome to July in Colorado.

A mica schist outcrop
Hiking along the continental divide where there is still snow in July

Just the Facts

Total Miles: 17.7
Cumulative Miles: 265.1
Trail Segments: 14 and 15
Camp Elevation: 11377 feet, seasonal creek
Elevation Gain:  3546 feet
Elevation Loss:  1874 feet
Weather: Partly cloudy in the morning, rain and hail late afternoon 

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