The Colorado Trail – Part 3

The third week of my solo through-hike of the Colorado Trail

Day 15, 7/8: Mill Creek to Clear Creek. 19.5 miles, 2000′ gain

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“Today started out miserable but ended up being great! I woke up and it was raining. Miserable, shitty, wet, no sun for the fourth day in a row. I got ready in the rain, packed up my saturated tent, cried, and got on the trail. I found LTE service shortly after and talked to Bill and checked Facebook and found a lot of encouraging things from friends, which lifted my spirits. I continued and once I got near Twin Lakes, it stopped raining and the sun actually came out. Lots of easy hiking put me well past my original planned campsite, so I ended up doing about 19.5 miles to CR390 and found Tony with five other young through-hikers and we had a great evening talking and having a fire. I met another girl solo hiker for the first time, Kate, who is also 26 and from Denver. Hopefully I will always have someone to hike and camp with now! Looking forward to more!”

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 Descending the switchbacks to County Road 390 (to Missouri Gulch area), I was treated to a rare sight – the hillside was covered in blooming cacti!

 

Day 16, 7/9: Clear Creek to Three Elk Creek. 15 miles, 4380′ gain

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“A totally brutal day, yet not too bad. 15.3 miles and 4,380 feet of gain hurt but I did it! Pretty views of Harvard and the Arkansas River valley. Passed the 200 mile mark, which felt good. Pushing hard today and tomorrow to arrive in Salida on Sunday afternoon, a day ahead of schedule.”

 

Days 17-20, 7/10-13. Three Elk Creek to Segment 15. 51.5 miles, 9,280′ gain

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Mt. Yale (top) and Mt. Princeton (above)

“Past three days – 7/10 was difficult, a steep climb to the summit ridge of Yale, about 12,000 feet. Did not get as many miles as I wanted that day. 7/11 I did 20.5 miles to get close to Salida, which was punishing. Yesterday made it all worth it, though.

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About to eat non-dehydrated food. I couldn’t contain my excitement!

I did 8.3 miles and met Bill at the Angel of Shavano trail head. He got us a nice hotel room and I took a shower. I look pretty different, very skinny. I did some laundry and we got dinner at Boathouse Cantina, which was amazing! Fish tacos (yes, occasionally I will eat fish) and the best green chile I’ve ever had. Had a drink at Deerhammer and witnessed a gorgeous sunset, then back to the room. Being in a bed for the first time in almost three weeks felt incredible. Surprisingly I didn’t sleep too well, but having Bill with me all night felt great. We went out for breakfast in the morning, and I was pleasantly surprised to get a gluten free pancake!

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Sunset over Buena Vista

I got back on the trail with the promise of seeing Bill on Saturday to join me. I can’t wait! The rest of my hike today was ok. I got caught in some rain and crossed Highway 50 and caught up with another trail friend, Reed. We were walking up the road in the rain when it started pouring. A nice older couple with a dog in an old Subaru Outback pulled up next to us and offered to drive us about two miles up the dirt road to the next trailhead and we accepted. They said it would be a very unpleasant walk. No regrets. They were really nice. I hiked several miles in, with hail and pouring rain, and set up camp pretty early. Hope to get a nice day tomorrow.”

Days 21-22, 7/14-15. Monarch Crest to Baldy Lake. 33.6 miles, 5520′ gain

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Lots of cows in these segments

“Nothing remarkable about yesterday or today. It was necessary to camp at about 11,200 both last night and tonight, and it is very cold and windy. I didn’t sleep well last night thanks to the tent thrashing in the wind, looks like it’ll be the same tonight. I do not enjoy doing more than 15 miles in a day.”

Day 23, 7/16. Baldy Lake to Pine Creek. 15.2 miles, 2250′ gain

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Seriously, so many cows

This day was too miserable for me to write a coherent journal entry. I will paraphrase: my back hurt, the forest was ugly and repetitive, there were too many ups and downs to count, it would start and stop raining as soon as I had removed or replaced my rain cover, a fly flew INSIDE my ear, I slipped and fell on a steep downhill, and when I got in my tent to go to bed, I realized that about 16oz. of my water had leaked inside my tent. Bad times.

Unfortunately, this was my last journal entry. I will attempt to relive and describe the rest of my trip from memory, but again, I am extremely disappointed that I didn’t keep writing about my daily experiences.

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