Today I tried my shoes out for what they were made for: trail running. It wasn’t intentional but when we left our campsite bright and early at 6am, I left my camera which had fallen behind a log. Of course we began climbing right away along the spine of the Continental Divide. We climbed up from the wooded saddle and had gone about a half a mile and up about 500 feet. The sun just began to peak over the ridge and I grabbed for my camera which wasn’t there. I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and said to Ray I left my camera at camp. So, I threw down my pack and started running. I feel lighter, and I am in much better shape I told myself as I huffed down the trail. Maybe I should take up trail running when we get back. Ok, maybe not. Luckily my camera was there and we hadn’t gone down the trail far enough to not go back. Whew.
We hiked down through aspen groves and bristlecone pines. Here the bristlecone grows with grasses, shrubs and aspen. In California when we were on the JMT, they grew with little ground cover below. I am curious about this difference.
We get to the bottom of the valley and the trailhead that ends the segment in upper Lujan creek. It is a lush, grassy meadow and we come across a horsepacking women’s group from Texas.
We have been seeing their sign for days and I am glad to catch up with them. Turns out they call themselves Limitless and they had taken the wrong turn but saw a bear and a moose. I said to them I guess it was the right wrong turn. Sometimes you just have to keep it in perspective.
After the horses leave, we reach a gate and check our Colorado Trail app. We have made it 300 miles! Yay, that sounds like a lot of walking. Well it is. We celebrate with a selfie in front of the Gunnison Forest sign. I think maybe I would prefer a beer but what the heck, it is all good.
A few miles later we reach our food cache near Highway 114. Before our hike, we drove up Highway 114 and down a dirt road and hiked in 2 bear containers with dehydrated food. We hid them off the road and trail and marked it on our Earthmate app. Luckily they are untouched and the food is is fine shape. We restock our packs and off we go.
As we are crossing highway 114, a woman is frantically waving at us and says come over and have some cookies and cold water. I can’t tell you the feeling of having a cookie or cold water when you are on a hike like this. I am so grateful!! Meredith is there to resupply her son Greg. He just graduated from high school in Castle Rock and decided to hike the Colorado Trail before going to college. We have camped near Greg the last 2 nights. His mom is glad to hear he is doing ok but she knew that anyway as she has been following him on the delorme inreach. I sense this has been a great experience for him. I salivate over the chipotle burrito and chocolate cake she has waiting for him but am very happy with my cookie and water.
After a few moments chatting we make our way south into the drier and hotter section of the trail. We pick up speed on this section as it is not as steep as other parts of the trail. This is an area that is more open with sagebrush range and used for cattle ranching. We have been told to avoid Los Creek as it is “a cowy, muddy mess up” and several other creeks are seasonal and questionable. We stop at Los Creek and debate about whether to fill up with dirty water and filter later or push to Ant Creek. We haven’t come across water for the last seven miles and Ant Creek is still six miles ahead. We decide to push on.
A few miles later we come across a cow skull below a sign that says “trail angel 1.2 miles ahead”. OMG my heart starts pounding and my feet even faster. Ray pulls along side me on the dirt road. We can see a vehicle off in the distance. I start fantasizing about what they may have and tell myself to not be disappointed if the car leaves.
We are not disappointed. Trail Angel “Appel” has been coming out here 9 years. He has water and a COKE. Every year he goes from the Appalachian trail to the Continental Divide Trail to the Colorado Trail and then to a trail in Florida to trail angel. I tell him it is the best coke I have ever had and get all choked up. Ray has a coke too – I have never seen him drink a coke. Maybe we have been on the trail too long.
We also talk with Michelle who is a firefighter from Alaska. Her parents are from Colorado Springs and will meet her at Spring Creek Trail to take her into Lake City for a resupply.
Appel has alot of questions for Ray when he finds out he is a geology professor. We discuss the eruptive past of the currently calm idealic high meadow valley.
Ray and I leave Trail Angel Appel and head on. It starts to rain hard and we are out in the open with several miles to go. We put on all our rain gear and keep hiking as we need to get to Ant Creek for water. It is cold and wet with a driving wind. It is one of the more trying times on the trip so far. I sing to myself and get into a hiking rhythm. Finally we stop but have a hard time finding a spot under the trees at the edge of a meadow that doesn’t have cow pies. We finally make a space and eat a few bars. It is raining too hard to cook and there is no place to sit that doesn’t include cow shit. This campsite is now called “Cow Shit Camp”. At least we are able to keep our sleeping bags dry and finally get to sleep.
Just the Facts
Total Miles: 21
Cumulative Miles: 318.2
Camp Elevation: 9787 feet, cow paddies a plenty just past ant creek