Prospector Gulch(1128.8) to Twin Lakes(1155.9)
Total Miles: 1229.9
I wish I could say that I got the best nights rest ever last night, but that would be a lie. I slept great until about 2 o’clock. That is when I heard a strange noise. I heard a very heavy tread close by. I grabbed my phone and turned on the flashlight. I scared the crap out of a bear. It looked at me and I looked at it. We had a very nice staring contest. I shouted, “hey bear!” and it took off running. Considering the fact that I had a snickers bar right next to my head and my food bag laying a few feet away, I didn’t get much sleep the rest of the night. As soon as it was light out I packed up and got moving. I had to finish hiking up the rest of a mountain. My legs were definitely feeling the elevation change from yesterday. It seemed to take much longer for me to get into the groove today. Shortly after starting I had a stream crossing. Unlike on the pct, I’ve mostly been able to find a dry way across.
Mild stream crossing
For the first eight miles of the day I walked through the forest on beautiful trail. All of the blow downs had already been cleared for the season. This area is one of the most popular spots for day hiking tourists. I appreciated the nice trail. Once I emerged from the forest I had a relatively steep climb up to Lake Ann Pass. This is the first pass that I’ve hiked since leaving Pagosa Springs that had significant snow. I had to hike over a cornice to get back down to the trail. The best way to describe a cornice is the snow that gathers on the peak of the roof on your house. It was a steep 10-20 foot high cornice. I was unlucky to hit it so early in the morning while it was still a sheet of ice. I just took my time and made sure every step was solid. A fall wouldn’t have killed me, but I would have been pretty bloody.
Cornice on Lake Ann Pass
Black line indicates route I took down
Upper left a hiker is visible coming down
I made it down just as a storm blew in. I dropped back into the tree line just as it started to rain. Luckily, the rain was very short lived. It really only sprinkled for about ten minutes. As I was getting my rain gear out, Action Jackson, Z, Slingshot, and Cleansweep hiked past me. This would be the theme of the day as we leapfrogged each other. We all hiked the pct in 2016, but AJ is the only one that I know. Almost as soon as they hiked past me it stopped sprinkling, so I hiked on without my rain gear. The next several miles were super creamy. By creamy, I mean close to flat. The Collegiate Wilderness has been full of lots of ups and downs, but the scenery has been spectacular. I have been surrounded by lots of 14,000 foot peaks. I plan on hiking Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado and the second highest peak in the Continental US after leaving Twin Lakes. It is located right off of the trail and I just can’t pass up the opportunity.
Coming down from Lake Ann Pass
The next pass to tackle for the day would really test my endurance. It was most definitely the steepest mountain that I have climbed since the Appalachian Trail. I gained 2,400 feet over 2.4 miles. That equals an astounding 1,000 feet/mile of elevation gain. Luckily, I really enjoy things like this. I had a couple of trail runners fly past me one mile in. I decided to see if I could keep up with them since they were just hiking up. I pleased to say that they only beat me by a minute or two. Once I got to the top of the pass they rewarded me with brownies. I think they were slightly impressed that I kept up.
Surprisingly fun climb
The views from the top of the pass were nothing short of amazing. I spent almost thirty minutes taking them in. Eventually 30-40 mph winds sent me running away.
View to the south. Huron is 14,003 feet
View to the north
Feeling pleased with myself
I hiked down from Hope Pass as quick as I could. Town was only about six miles away. I didn’t have high hopes of getting in shower or laundry, but I was excited about food and resupply. My hiking shirt is also completely shot and I had a new one waiting for me in town. I made it down from Hope Pass in record time. I was about to begin the road walk into town when a Colorado Trail hiker passed me going southbound. I had my head down and only briefly looked up to say hello. I took two steps before things clicked. I knew this hiker. Flowers and I hiked the pct the same year, but never met each other on trail. We actually met in Telluride via other thruhikers. I wished her luck on her hike and pressed on. The hiking community is so awesome the way things like this frequently happen.
Flowers and I
The town of Twin Lakes consists of a tiny general store and three lodges. The lodges are comprised of a B&B, some cabins, and an inn. They were all completely booked. I gathered my packages from the general store. My food resupply was exactly where it should of been, but my Amazon order was missing. After almost an hours search it was located behind the counter. It had been opened by an employee. This was a very shady situation, but I couldn’t really complain. In the end I got the package and nothing was missing. I’m super excited to have a new shirt, the downside is that I couldn’t get my usual purple. For the first time in my long distance hiking career I’m not hiking in purple. I guess my purple Oakley sunglasses will have to suffice.
Turtle showed up a little before dark and we went to the only restaurant in town for dinner. Dinner was excellent, but for $23/dish I didn’t expect anything less than excellent. With zero options for lodging we made due with camping behind some trees next to the highway. We are camped in high grass and next to a lake. It’s not a matter of if everything will be soaked by condensation, but how soaked. I guess I’ll find out in the morning.
"Well, a wiser fellow than myself once said, “Sometimes you eat the b’ar, sometimes the b’ar, why, he eats you.”
- The Stranger (The Big Lebowski)