19.1 miles hiked, 8343ft
(Camping at official route mile 588.5)
It’s a nice steep climb to wake me up this morning. I’ve 1795ft to climb over 2.8miles, to get me to the top of Mt Taylor at 11,309ft. The official trail does some strange skirting around the mountain, so I take the Ley alternate which goes up and over.
I stop on the way for water which is a little ways off the trail but a nice piped slow trickle of clear water to take me the next 8 miles.
Soooo sleeeeepy. I think someone has stolen my eyes and replaced them with a pair that are only happy when shut. I could easily lie down and nap for a few hours.
Altitude and I aren’t really friends. I love to visit but can’t stay long. When I climbed Gokyo Ri in Nepal I felt like I was drunk and on a violently rocking boat. Through the whole Sierra on the Pacific Crest Trail I was so so so sleepy. I only got up and over the passes thanks to the magical power of sour patch kids.
This must be my unhappiness altitude point. Somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 ft is where I stumble into a field of poppies with Toto and close my eyes until Matcha Tea, the Good Witch of Caffeine, comes to save me. This does not augur well for Colorado with all her altitudiness.
I finally ( finally!) make it to the top and take a few pics of the gorgeous view of everything I hiked below. I begin the descent on the other side of the mountain where there is snow! I unexpectedly posthole a little as I make my way through the trees. At the bottom I realise I have another little climb ahead of me, and the grumbling I hear isn’t just my stomach but the collection of dark grey clouds that have decided to congregate above my head. I go as fast as I can…which is very slow. When I make it over the highest point and there is still no rain I sit for a little bit and shovel in some food. As I’m about to pack up I see little balls of white start to accumulate around me. Hail!!! Thankfully not as big or hard as the hail the bruised me in the Gila. Pack cover on, raincoat on, I head down the road. There is a huge blinding flash right in front of my eyes accompanied by a pant-soilingly loud clap of thunder above me!
Just keep hiking just keep hiking.
The hail and thunder fade away and I get to the next water source where I have to grab 4L as it’s 18miles and overnight before I’ll get to the next water. Blergh heavy pack.
I sit on a rock surrounded by yellow daisy-like flowers filtering the water into various containers. The sound of the water splashing from the spring is too soothing and I have to move now or contend with a real possibility of setting up camp at 2:30pm.
I climb over a fence and rejoin the dirt road, and predictably miss my turnoff onto the trail. I’m just about to turn around when I see something heading onto the road ahead. A horse! Another horse! A foal! A whole herd of wild horses!!! Probably not a whole herd, but about 10 of all different colours. I watch them for a minute before they are alerted to my presence. One horse gives the signal “SHNUFF!” and they gallop back into the trees.
More dirt road walking, more sitting on side of dirt road trying to muster energy. I drink things and eat things but nothing seems to help. I resign myself to a crappy mileage day and backtrack a little to call it a night when the terrain turns really rocky. The clouds are mustering again and the wind is doing her crazy dance. I manage to find a space between/ underneath some trees, kick away all the cow poop and as many rocks as possible, and huddle into my bed for the night. Chilly chilly chilly!!! Oh I miss my doggies! I need them here to sandwich me with their fluffy warmth! (And protect me from bunyips).