28.7 miles hiked, Camping @ 7162ft
Today starts with a climb to the top of our current hill, that opens up to a view of the valley below, and all the distant mountain tops. We hike along the edge of the top, briefly winding in through the trees then back out to the edge again. In and out. We are vortexed by phone service at the top and are joined by 4 other hikers needing to press little buttons and stare at tiny screens to feel connected to the world.
Things get a little more exciting as there is a long knifes edge in front of us. There are 3 big bumps today; 3 big Stegosaurus bumps like my spine. The first is across the loose rock on the skinny 30cm knife edge trail, the ground falling away fast on both sides.
Short sharp climbs then back down again.
After the dinosoaur hiking we walk steeply down to a lake below, where we stop to collect water and eat some lunch in the harsh sun. The water is full of floating algae, but is our first for a while so we filter it and add some electrolyte mix to mask the taste. Perfect.
The rest of the trail is down down down as we begin the descent to the lower altitude of Durango. It gets hotter and hotter as we head down. There is brief respite for about 10 minutes as the clouds open up on us, but then hooooot. The trail starts following a creek, where I stop a few times to dip my hat and buff in the cool water. Finally at the bottom and main part of the creek I strip off my shirt and dip it and my head in the beautifully cold stream. There are so many biting flies and now wasps around that one hiker has set up his tent net while waiting for his friends. There’s an army of flying villains waiting to attack him as soon as he emerges.
One final small climb and then no more climbing on the CT. It’s 4 to the top and we will camp shortly after, giving us less than 10 miles to finish in the morning. I surprise myself and make really good time on this climb. Aspens and pines intermingle giving a nice breath of shade as I hike past, the grade is breath-borrowing but not drastic. I’m at the top before I even know it. Then down again.
We stop where we think there is water, however it is filled with animal bones and cow poop so we decide to skip it and try our luck with one of the many small streams we cross all day on the trail. Except it appears all those streams finished before this final climb. We’ve enough water to camp, so really we are just after a flat spot to camp. There isn’t one.
I know we are close to the trailhead because more and more bike riders are appearing. The only campsite that is referred to in the notes in my phone app is taken up. Shite.
We resign ourselves to going all the way to the water, but once there we see all the tiny places taken up. Bah grr humpf. I have to take my headlamp out now as the light is fast fading. Grizzly’s doesn’t work so we are both hiking by my tiny light.
Finally at 9:20pm we pass the sign for the start/end of this section of the Colorado Trail. We find a small place off to the side, set up the tent and fall asleep, mad at the trail for not having a campsite exactly where we wanted it. The nerve. Less than one tiny mile to the main trailhead and the road. I’m claiming it now – The Colorado Trail is finito! Boom!