Bowen Creek(1394.5) to Haystack Mt(1420.5)
Total Miles: 2760.5
Elevation: 10,200 ft
I am not adapting to this elevation very well. I was utterly exhausted last night, but I slept fitfully. I was up at six o’clock and left camp just before seven. I was not looking forward to starting the day off with a big climb. Small climbs were giving me difficulties yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this climb went pretty well. I didn’t do it quite as fast as normal, but it definitely went better than yesterday. I could see someone in front of me and I think that gave me extra motivation to catch up. Early on I stopped to take off a few layers. I got about a quarter mile down the trail after stopping when I noticed that my sunglasses were gone. I hoped that they had fallen off when I stopped to change and not back where I had camped. I dropped my pack and ran back to where I had stopped. The force was with me and my glasses were there. Phew! I would have been really mad if I had to go all the way back to where I had camped.
Sun almost reaching me
Isolated color change due to the fact that all of the other trees are dead
I was really hoping to hit thirty miles today, but I was really off pace to hit that goal. The trail went steeply down and wove around in the forest. Eventually I hit an ATV track. I was hoping to gain some time, but the track was rocky and I had to work hard to keep my footing. I caught up to the person that was ahead of me at the top of the climb. We said a brief hello. He passed me a little while later when I stopped to pee, then I passed him when he stopped to filter water. This went on for most of the morning. We never said more than hey or how’s it going.
Weaving through the forest
I planned on stopping for lunch at a trailhead parking lot/highway. The trail was going up and down very steeply and I couldn’t eat my snacks as I hiked. I was losing energy quickly due to a lack of calories. I probably should have just stopped and eaten, but I didn’t want to lose my momentum. I really misjudged how close I was to the trailhead. By the time I stopped it was after noon and I had only had a granola bar and a snickers. When I got to the road I took everything out of my pack so that my gear would dry. My sleeping bag and stuff sacks had gotten wet with condensation and frost over night. I made a burrito with mustard, mayo, pepperoni, sharp cheddar cheese, and some honey mustard flavored pretzel pieces. I washed that down with some caffeinated flavored water. As I was eating the guy I had leapfrogged with all morning caught up. His name was Whitney Houston. He has hiked the AT and PCT. due to his work schedule he is section hiking the CDT. He said he gets in close to two hundred miles a year. We chatted for a little while longer, but eventually he continued on and I stayed to finish my lunch. I had also seen two SoBo hikers earlier in the day. They have a lot of high elevation miles ahead of them and not much time left before the weather turns. I’m glad I’m not in that boat this year.
Fall is here and winter is coming
After lunch I really hit the wall. I had a horrible 800 foot/mile climb in front of me. I have had plenty of similar climbs on this trail, but not in a long time. Montana really ruined me, I haven’t been at elevation since the Wind River Range and I don’t think that was above 11,000 feet. Today’s climb would take me up to almost 12,500 feet. The six mile climb took me forever. In my top form I’m capable of doing a climb like that in two hours, today it took me close to four hours. I’m embarrassed to say that I had to stop several times on the way up. I can’t remember the last time I had to take a break while climbing a mountain.
First part of the climb(easy part)
Second part(still not too bad)
Third and fourth part(kicked my butt)
Yup still going, fifth section
Sixth and final section
Looking back from the top
Took a break in the hut to eat a snack out of the wind
Added my graffiti next to my friends and found where trail legend Amish left her mark in 2006(I would never leave graffiti behind, but this spot encourages hikers to sign)
I wish I could have lingered at the top longer, but the wind was picking up and clouds were moving in. I totally forgot that the sunsets at 7:24 here. I only had 2.5 hrs to hike another seven miles. Usually that is not a problem, but I haven’t exactly been setting speed records the last few days. As I hiked down from the ridge it began to sprinkle. What the heck? I had literally just checked the weather and there was a zero percent chance of rain for tonight. Ugh! I picked up my pace and the rain stopped. I thought everything was downhill for the next seven miles, but once again I was mistaken. I dropped a quick 1,200 feet of elevation, then proceeded to gain about 600 feet right back. I was really tired, but the threat of rain, lack of water, and the approaching sunset kept me moving.
Cool view from the top
Looking back. I walked the ridge from the left to right
I forgot how challenging Colorado can be. I was glad that I got off of the ridge before it really began to storm. I realized that there was no way I was going to make it to my planned campsite before dark. I had chosen that spot because it was the only listed water. I had just under a liter of water left. I figured I could use it to cook dinner with and have about a quarter of a liter to drink. That was nowhere near enough, but I didn’t see another way. I didn’t want to get to camp after sunset and setup camp, cook, and eat in the dark. As I dropped down from the final section of the ridge it began to rain again. I put on my rain jacket and was resigned to the fact that I was going to get to camp wet. I decided to camp in the first sheltered spot that I came across. Unfortunately, when I found that spot someone else was already there. I got to meet yet another southbounder by the name of Quadzilla. I said a quick hello, we exchanged names, and as I was hiking away he told me about an unlisted water source one mile away. I was very thankful for that info. I had just enough time and daylight to make it that far. As I was making my way down the mountain and to the water I heard someone call out my name. They were far enough away that I couldn’t immediately tell who it was. I was pretty sure that I didn’t know any other thruhikers in this area. As I got closer I saw that it was LETITBE. We crossed paths way back in Dubois, WY. He joined Z, my parents, and I for breakfast. It was cool to see a friendly face that I knew. He congratulated me on my triple crown. He somehow knew that I was in the area making up missed miles and was hoping to run into me today. We didn’t talk for long since it was raining and we both needed to get into camp. I wished him well on the rest of his hike.
I found the unlisted water source right next to the trail. I grabbed a few liters as quickly as possible. Now all I needed to do was find some flat ground to camp on. It didn’t take me too long to find what I was looking for. I set up my tent and just as I crawled inside it began to rain again. I hadn’t planned on cooking dinner from inside my tent, but with the rain increasing that is exactly what I did. Thank god I’m no longer in grizzly territory. Hopefully tomorrow goes a little more smoothly.
“I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.”
- Lou Holtz