Date- September 16, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 11,099 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 22.2 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,682.3 miles
Weather/Temp- Partly cloudy, overcast, rain, clear
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- Moose x 2
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 9
The canaries started to die today – or perhaps they began singing? Whichever. The point is, the aspens began to change today. Not all of them, but a healthy handful. Some entire stands had turned yellow, while other swaths remained green. Some individual trees had only one or two changed leaves. It was a bit of a mixed bag, but the big change is coming. I wager we don’t have much more than 2 weeks before things get hairy – if that. We can have Colorado behind us in two weeks if need be, but it would hurt…
I was up and out of the room, already hiking by a little before 8:30 am. After crossing a small flood plain and wading across a low river, I began a steep 3,000+ ft climb up to Hope Pass.
It was a gorgeous climb up. Twigsy passed me while I was stopped having a snack. He and I would leap frog for most of the day before finishing together.
Near the top of the 12,500 ft Hope Pass, I had a small epiphany. I wish I could share it with you, but unfortunately it will have to wait until I put said epiphany into action. It was an epiphany I’ve needed for a couple years now, and I only hope I’m not wrong about my feelings toward it. We’ll see…
The long descent from Hope Pass was a gorgeous mishmash of conifers and dense aspen stands. Quiet storms were brewing in the distance, producing only rain and a little bit of wind – no lightning or thunder. Three times I had to pull out my umbrella to keep from getting damp. By 3 pm the rain was gone, never to be seen again.
After trekking through the valley for several miles, I began the next 2,000+ ft steep climb up to Lake Ann Pass (at more than 12,600 ft.). Around halfway up I caught Swift. I hiked with her the rest of the way to the pass, sharing tips on breathing techniques as well as strategies to get stronger faster on these nonstop climbs. As mentioned previously, this is her first long hike – so she is still getting her trail legs. In fact, this was her first day over 20 miles, and I was glad to be a part of that!
We crested the gorgeous Lake Ann Pass a little before 6 pm and began yet another long descent to earth. We only had about 4 more miles to our planned camp site.
Not Just Anywhere
Probably my least favorite aspect of Colorado is the daily logistics pertaining to where to camp. So much of the trail is exposed and above tree line or within freezing valleys. You can’t just hike all day and stop wherever you want. I mean you could… but you’d be taking a risk. It behooves oneself to pick a spot ahead of time that will be within the tree line, but still nets you healthy miles (not too few) – also not more than you can reasonably cover while crossing this crazy terrain. Sometimes the good camping is a matter of going low twenties, high twenties, or low to mid thirties; that’s the pattern of going over passes, along exposed ridge-lines, and through sloping valleys out here. There’s often small windows of areas that provide really good camping, but they’re few and far between.
Swift got ahead in the last mile when I stopped to filter some water for camp. Twigsy caught up just as I was finishing and we hiked the last mile together. When we got down to the last two tenths of a mile, he spotted a bull and cow moose a couple hundred feet to the right of the trail. We watched them for a few minutes before completing the day and meeting Swift and Jetpack.
I packed smoked brats and macaroni and cheese out of Twin Lakes, so that’s what I had tonight. It really felt like I was living the good life.
I’m currently cowboy camped under some trees. It’s a little above freezing right now, so I won’t be surprised if we’re frosted in the morning. Here’s to hoping NOT!
Tomorrow is looking like a pretty exposed day. I think we’ll be aiming for low twenties or high twenties depending on weather and difficulty of terrain. We’ll see…
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com