Camping @ 11732 ft
19.2 miles hiked
The pitter patter of rain in the tent greets me as I wake. I groan and roll over. Half an hour, I tell myself.
38 minutes later the rain has stopped so I go about the morning busyness of stuffing all my things away, eat a bar and start hiking.
Lots of exposed ridge climbing today, beginning with a climb that jumps straight out of our camp. It’s coooold and for the first time in a long time I start hiking with my long underwear, puffy and beanie on. I think Montana was the last time I’ve been so cold in the morning. There is little evidence of yesterday’s white winter, except on the distant peaks from where we hiked – apparently the epi-centre of the craziness – that are still white capped. There are amazing views of stunning mountains all around. So this is what that horrid storm was hiding!
We are all short on water after our manky last stop yesterday, but thankfully it’s only a couple of miles before we cross a stream. Tigerlily and I make coffee, Grizzly eats some oatmeal, I filter water and soak oats for later in the day.
Onwards we go looking down the steep dropoff to the side of the trail to a glistening lake and rocky outcrops of different coloured stones all around us. There is a sharp turn and we are at the ‘Knifes Edge’ a super skinny looong section of loose rock and scree. Huge towering rock rises vertical on our left, to our right is a steep drop of a few hundred feet. Underfoot is very slippery small rocks and sand. Again, I’m so happy to be hiking this Not in the snow!
The rock hides lots of little nooks and mini caves, many clearly the resting place of little creatures who have left nests of dry grass.
We walk along this semi circle around the little lakes, trees and grasses below, then climb up and over a small notch on the other side, and into a new world to marvel at. In the distance there is a hiker coming towards us. The first Sobo! His name is Phantom, he started in June from Glacier and has been doing regular 30 mile days simply because he is too hungry and can’t carry enough food to be out of town for longer stretches! Zoom zoom!
Across a high meadow and down the otherside. The trail is now overgrown with lush tall grasses and lillies, and we make a lunch stop next to a beautiful clear rushing stream. Almond butter and crackers consumed, I hike on and see another Sobo! Sobo season has come to Colorado.
The view at the top of this post-lunch climb is breathtaking. The trail again hugs the side of a mountain, following the curve around to the opposite side. Dropping far below in the valley is an amazing stream flowing through the centre. The stream is flanked by light coloured rock that is littered with little pines, and next to the rock is lush greenery everywhere. As it drops there are multiple waterfalls whose rushing noise echoes through the mountains.
On the otherside there are lots of rocks lining the trail, and then in the distance I see a homeless looking Grizzly hiding under the tyvek as the daily rain has commenced.
Tigerlily catches up and we all hide for a little while, then hike on to get over the 12800ft peak. The top is wonderful. Instead of gradual rolling mountains, the mountains are stacked right up next to each other – climb after climb after climb. Nothing gradual here!
The clouds have built and the hail has come. We hike through it as there isn’t any lightning to hide from today. It feels like I’m hiking through a miniature paintball game with sharp shooters aiming at me with precision. Gah the little ice pellets sting!
One more ridge to climb over, down through muddy muddy trail surrounded by willow, and we manage to find a dry, slightly elevated, place to camp.
We eat as much as our meagre food bags will allow, put all the layers on again and settle in for a chilly night!