Date- September 20, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 10,354 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 21.8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,752 miles
Weather/Temp- partly cloudy, windy, 50s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- None
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 1
We caught a ride up to the trail with Stacy – the lady who works at the gear shop. When we exited the vehicle at Monarch Pass, the difference in temperature and wind speed from down in Salida was staggering! It went from calm and about 60 degrees to 40 mph winds, with a below freezing chill factor. I started hiking right away!
The trail today was super easy, albeit a bit exposed in the beginning and extremely windy. Of the very few challenges today posed, the most unexpected was… mountain bikers. I’ll never be able to thank the AT and PCT enough for not allowing mountain bikers on a hiking trail. The Colorado Trail does things differently – it is mountain biker friendly.
On Your Left
Between 8 am and 1 pm, I probably had over 70 mountain bikers fly by me at separate times. They’ve got all the momentum on the downhills, so you’d just be hiking along in blissful solitude when you’d hear someone yelling to get out of the way, or that they’re passing you on your right or left. Sometimes they wouldn’t say anything and just fly by you – potentially inducing a heart attack. At one point, there was actually a traffic jam of mountain bikers going south, motocross dirt-bike riders going north, and little ole me on foot going south. I just stepped off the trail, sat down, took a picture, and continued to sit there for half an hour and watch more bikers go by. It was an interesting and dicey day that had me suddenly leaping off the trail more than a dozen times.
I finished up the day early at 5:30 pm and caught up to Jetpack, Smiles, and Swift. We’d decided to stop at the last water before a 22 mile dry stretch. This also gave us about 22 miles for the day.
The spot we’re at is in a small valley that has a creek running through it. My instincts are telling me that it’s going to get miserably cold tonight, but I’m too lazy to go further and carry a ton of extra water. Plus, with all the extra time, I was able to build a massive furnace with a beautiful fire. I also built a large “L” shaped bench out of logs. I wouldn’t say this furnace is my best work, but it’s deff my biggest. It’s nearly 4 feet tall.
Toast arrived about 30 minutes after I got the fire going, so it’s just me and four female hikers. I have no idea if this little posse of ours is going to stick together, but everyone really seems to get along and enjoy each other’s company. It would be cool to have the semblance of a trail family beginning to form.
Dinner is Served
I cooked up some polish beef sausages and mash potatoes for dinner and shared some of the sausages with my fellow hikers. I’m now cowboy camped under a conifer looking at slivers of the Milky Way through the branches. The moon has been rising very late in the past few days, so we’ve been rewarded with hours of glowing galaxies every night.
Tomorrow shouldn’t be too bad, even with the 22 mile dry stretch. We shall see…
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