Friday, August 14, 2020

Day 3- Hiking In My Backyard

Monday August 03, 2020
Taylor Lake(22.7) to Scotch Creek(42.1) 19.4mi
Total miles: 42.1
Elevation: 10,402ft

I fell asleep ridiculously early last night. I was out by 9:15. As a result I woke up at 11:30pm thinking that it was morning. I was a little surprised when I checked my watch and saw that it wasn’t even midnight. I tossed and turned the rest of the night. It always takes me a week or two to adjust to sleeping on an inflatable sleeping pad. I finally got up a little before 6 and was hiking by 6:45. I’m trying out a new ultralight weight frameless backpack and have eliminated all of my stuff sacks. I’m having to invent an entirely new morning routine to pack up camp. My old way of doing things no longer works. I used to put all of my belongings into stuff sacks from inside my tent, put on my socks and shoes, break down my tent, put it into a stuff sack, and then load up my pack. Since eliminating all of my stuff sacks I have to be creative. My sleep clothes and warm layers go inside my sleeping bag. I’m packing my sleeping pad straight into my pack and using it as an internal support. Then my sleeping bag goes into my pack liner, which I cinch down and fold up to keep my bag and clothes waterproof. Then my food bag goes in. Next I fold up my tarp and shove it in to fill up all the empty the nooks and crannies. My toiletries and electronics are stored together in a ziplock bag, which go into my outer pack mesh pocket. This probably sounds confusing, but trust me when I say it’s a different system. I decided to switch from my trusty and beloved Zpacks Arc Haul backpack in an effort to get my base weight below 10 lbs. I bought a Pa’lante V2 pack immediately after I finished the CDT. I saw several other hikers using frameless packs and wanted to try it out. The Pa’lante pack is meant for loads under 25 lbs w/ food and water, so wasn’t really convinced it would work for me. After 2 days I am in love with this pack. It is so light I don’t feel like I’m carrying anything. Another bonus is how nimble I feel. It is a nice change to not have a pack anchored to my hips. 

My teeny tiny pack

Check out my CT 2020 gear list to see what I’m carrying for this trail. You’ll notice I got my base weight down to 9.24 lbs. when I hiked the AT my base weight was 17.5 lbs. I’ve come along way and spent a fair bit of money to get my weight down. Ultralight is not cheap, but I do enjoy big mile days more with less weight on my back. 

I should have known better than to set up camp so close to a lake. All of my gear was slightly damp when I got up. If today wasn’t my last day on trail I might have been more irritated, but since I’ll home tonight I can dry everything out. Today started off with a pretty gnarly climb, it was a good thing I felt pretty rested when I got up. 

Taylor Lake at sunrise + The morning climb

View of the lake from halfway up the ridge

About halfway into the climb I noticed that I wasn’t as well rested as I thought. My hip and the soles of my feet were sore. I turned on some music and tried to ignore the pain. Before I knew it I was at the top and had a 360 degree view of the San Juan mountains. The view I encountered yesterday was nothing compared to this. Most of the visible mountain peaks were mountains that I see all of the time, but it was incredible seeing them from a different vantage point. The trail followed a ridge line for most of the morning and I was able to hike surrounded by beauty. 

State Flower of Colorado: The Columbine 

Lizard Head and Mt. Wilson in the distance (I drive past that range everyday)

As much as I wanted to slow down and enjoy the views I had a timeline for the day. My best friend Jess offered to pick me up at the end of the day. I had to make it to a certain area so that she could come and get me. If I couldn’t make it work for her to pick me up I was looking at a possible difficult hitch or hiking 15 miles to get home. I really wanted a ride! That was my main motivation for pushing past the sore muscles and the hot/dry afternoon. 

Type II fun

Fun ridge line 

Eventually the trail stopped following the ridge line and dropped below tree line. It was shaping up to be a really hot day and I had two unreliable water sources ahead of me. Luckily, I had talked to a SoBo hiker earlier in the day and he told me one of the water sources was good to go. Before the trail dropped too far below tree line I was able to get a text message through to Jess and we arranged a tome and pickup point. Thank god for google maps! I was able to see where the trail crossed a county road and I dropped a pin to her with my location. Now all I had to do was get there. 

During the long downhill below tree line I really had to watch every step. My legs were shot and I couldn’t afford to lose time or hurt myself. I kind of hobbled and shuffled my way down. Every time I passed of SoBo hiker or biker I would force myself to take graceful hiker strides. As soon as they were out of sight I would start to limp and waddle my way down the trail. 

After hitting the water source the trail went back up hill and in to the open. I wasn’t totally exposed, but I did go long stretches with no shade. I should have put sunscreen on, but I honestly didn’t think about it. As a result at the end of the day the back of my legs and neck were fried. Usually after a few days on trail I’m pretty excited about taking a shower. Once I noticed how burnt I was the thought of showering wasn’t as exciting. 

Long exposed stretches and superb views 

About 15 miles away from where I live

After hiking as hard as I could I finally made it to my dropped pin location. I successfully completed three sections of the Colorado Trail. I was even two hours early. I decided to keep hiking since the county road paralleled the trail for several miles. I texted my friend to change the pickup location and kept going. It was nice to end on a high note and hike a big day. 

 “Let your feet take you places, let them remind you of the beauty your eyes can’t see.”
- Nikki Rowe


  1. Beautiful photos, love and miss the columbine. Happy hiking, hugs, Anita

  2. Like the new pack. Be careful with the sun. Enjoy the journey.

  3. Pictures were beautiful. Glad your equipment is working out. Look forward to your Denver start😊