Stoney Pass(945.9) to CT Yurt(970.4) 24.5 Miles
Total Miles: 1044.4
Before I tell you about my day, I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to my oldest brother, Michael. I hope you had a relaxing day that included a cold beer.
My goal for the day was to hike 24.5 miles so that I could stay inside a yurt. I have never stayed in a yurt. The Colorado Trail Association maintains one for CT hikers. I knew making it that far before dark would be challenging. I couldn’t get an early start because I had to wait for Mangas’s wife, Julie, to meet us at the pass. Before leaving Pagosa Springs we had arranged for her to bring us more food. It turns out that we did this section faster than expected, so I didn’t really need the food, but I had left other stuff behind that I did need. On the positive side I was able to sleep in because we didn’t expect Julie until 8am. Turtle had camped with me last night, but Mangas had caught up to him during the day. Mangas camped a few miles behind us and got to our camp site around 6:30. It was still really cold out so I stayed in my tent while I chatted with Mangas. Once the sun was shining I emerged. Mangas has decided to end his section hike. He has stuff that needs to get done at home and he expects to begin work again soon. Julie arrived on time and we were able to give her our snow gear and extra food. I’m going to miss hiking with Mangas, but since he lives so close to me I’m sure our paths will cross again.
Mangas, Julie, and Leo
It was 9 o’clock before Turtle and I started our day. If you have followed my blog on any of my other hikes, you will know that once I have a challenge ahead of me I will do anything in my power to accomplish it. I had to hike 24.5 miles before 8 o’clock. I think it is extremely rude to show up at a shelter after dark, so that is why I wanted to be there by 8. I knew it was going to be a difficult day with a lot of elevation change, but I was up for the challenge. Once we started hiking it was like the starters gun went off. I busted out 6 miles in two hours. My pack felt so light without my extra snow gear and I was only carrying 1.5 days of food. Water has not been an issue with all the snow melting so I was only carrying a half liter. The day took a turn for the worse when I stopped to grab some water. I usually grab water on the go and add bleach while I walk. Thirty minutes later I have drinkable water. When I went to get my bleach out I realized that it was gone. I must have left it with my box of extra food in Mangas’s jeep. Doh! I thought about not treating my water, but came to the conclusion that that was a stupid risk. I had given Turtle my extra bottle of bleach this morning. I decided that I just had to wait for him to catch up. After waiting 30 minutes I couldn’t wait any longer. The smoke was getting worse and the wind was picking up making me cold. I left my pack on the side of the trail and went to find him. Luckily, he was just behind me at that point. We split the remaining bleach up and I hiked on. I was practically running down the trail to make up for lost time.
Looked like it was going to be another beautiful day
I love Colorado
The smoke blew in much earlier than usual today. The wind and cloud cover also increased. For most of the day I couldn’t tell if it was going to rain or it was just really smoky. The weather was very mercurial. Every time I stopped to put more layers on the sun would come out and the wind would die down. I would stop to remove layers and the wind would pick up and the sun would go away. I just couldn’t win. By twelve o’clock the smoke was horrendous. The last few days it hasn’t been that bad by four o’clock. At least I didn’t feel bad about rushing through the day. The smoke was so thick there were no views to be had.
Last view of the day
The remainder of the day
I usually stop and take a break every hour in the afternoon. Today I was going 2-3 hours without stopping. At one point I felt a few rain drops so I stopped to put on my rain jacket and make sure everything in my pack was water tight. As soon as I stopped the rain went away. I’m still not sure that I wasn’t imagining it. I put my pack back on and hiked out. Half a mile later I realized that my headphones were missing. I had set them out to put on after I took off my rain jacket and never picked them up. I dropped my pack and ran back to where I had stopped at. That was another timely mistake. I had just gotten back to my pack and put some music on when I thought I heard some shouting. I turned around and saw Turtle. He was saying something about water, but I didn’t quite catch what he said. I was in too much of a hurry to really pay attention. For the next mile I pondered what he might have said. Then I checked the Guthook app on my phone. I was almost two miles into a 20 mile dry stretch. He had been asking if I saw that I was passing the last water source. Oh, crap. There was no way I was going to turn around, I had 10 miles left to get to the yurt. I was pretty sure I saw that there was water there. I only had a quarter of a liter of water and a massive climb ahead of me. I was mildly concerned. It wasn’t like I was going to die, but I would be pretty uncomfortable. As I began the 1,300 foot climb over 1.5 miles the smoke and wind got even worse. Even with the less than ideal conditions, I enjoyed the hike. It was actually pretty chill with lots of switchbacks at the end. I was about two thirds of the way done when I heard an engine. I looked up to see two off road type vehicles going by on a Jeep road. I called out and flagged them down. I asked if they had any water and I lucked out. They had an entire ice chest full. They kindly gave me a liter of water which would be more than enough to get me to the yurt. My stupid mistake turned out to be ok. I got water at the top of the climb and didn’t have to carry it up or treat it. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.
If you look. Carefully you can see the off road vehicles
This uphill took me to the highest point I have been on this trail to date 13,271 feet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see a thing. I was totally engulfed by the smoke. I tried to get cell phone reception, but it wasn’t fast enough to upload my blog or download an audiobook. It was very chilly at the top so I hurriedly began to make my way down. The rest of the hike to the yurt was a gentle down and very uneventful.
Top of the mountain
I ended up making it to the yurt at seven o’clock. Mission accomplished! I made what would turn out to be another mistake by sleeping inside the yurt(more on that tomorrow). Turtle made it in about an hour after me. I plan on getting up early tomorrow morning so I can hike the final 8.5 miles into town.
End of my personal challenge: The Yurt
“By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you've achieved - and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses - you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.”
- Jack Canfield