Camping @ 12087ft
18.1 miles hiked
I am a human popsicle.
I tossed and turned all night, never able to get warm. When I wake, there is ice above my head in the inside of the tent where the condensation has frozen. The rain fly is covered with frost all around the bottom. No wonder I was cold!!!
I eat my Bobos oat bar and head on out of camp, wearing my ineffectual Frogg Toggs pants and jacket to push my way through the wet willow bushes. It takes about 2 minutes before I am completely saturated.
I hike up over a little hill and down canyon following a stream. Tigerlily has stopped a couple of miles out to collect water and make coffee, but as I have enough water and want to conserve our gas to make sure we have enough for hot dinner, I sadly pass on by dreaming dreams of espresso machines. Today in our game of Practical Item and Luxury Item (in which you get to choose one of each that you would like to add to your pack; neither of which weight anything nor take up any space) my luxury item is an espresso machine, complete with awesome barista. My practical item, for the bazillionth time, is a pair of dry shoes and socks. A girl can dream.
Down down down I hike, and strawberry patches start to appear again on the sides of the trail. I stop to sample a few, the tiny little red fruit no bigger than a fingernail but bursting with flavour. This is what they are supposed to look like, not the super-sized flavourless rubbish we get in the supermarkets. Made even better as these ones are organic and free 🙂 An older couple pass by with a beautiful golden retriever, who is very clever and carrying his own little saddle bags ( with basically nothing in them but he likes to wear them!) for their weekend trip. Such a happy doggy!
The trees stop and the ground flattens as it spills out onto a long wide meadow. Grizzly catches me here, and is in a dangerous hangry state, so we stop for eating and drinking and laying out the wet tent.
I slosh through streams that crowd the meadow, across to a big climb on the other side. There is a great notch carved out of the top of the mountain ridge here, in the perfect shape of a window. It is called…The Window. We are to hike up under it so we pick out a spot on our maps to meet for lunch that will have a view. The speedy zoomers zoom on ahead of me up the climb. I pass by several curious marmots standing on their hind legs staring at me. I try to engage them in conversation (“Aren’t you a beautiful marmot? You’re so handsome!”) but alas they don’t talk back.
As I’m getting towards the top of the climb it starts to sprinkle and by the time I catch Tigerlily and Grizzly, take my food bag out for lunch, it starts to pour. We huddle in our usual spot underneath the not-quite-large-enough tyvek, and discover that it is now leaking. Crap crap crap. My rainpants are soaked through and I’m very quickly freezing. When we have decided that the thunder isn’t going to bite us, we brave the storm and hike out into the near freezing temperatures. The climb up and over the pass warms me slightly, but on the other side wind is blowing the rain directly into us and I fast descend into borderline dangerously cold territory. My brain ceases to function and I can’t talk. It takes everything I have to keep shuffling forward, which I have to do because there is nowhere to hide!
10 miles of rain. 10 miles of trying to visualise fireplaces, hot beaches, heaters, blankets. It’s so bitterly disappointing because between the fog, clouds and rain I can see that this is easily one of the most beautiful sections of trail and we aren’t able to enjoy it.
The trail passes through a neverending maze of whomping willows. They are saturated, so even when the rain stops every brush past a branch soaks my pants and jacket right through.
Somehow we make it to camp. About 2 miles beforehand the rain finally stopped, which vaguely registered in my still-popsicled brain. I eat as much food as I can and cocoon myself in whatever clothes I have that are dry. Hopefully tonight there will be sleep, and warmth! Have I mentioned it’s cold up here at altitude in Colorado? Brrrrr!