Stealth Spot(317) to Cochetopa Creek(337.8) 21.9mi
Total Miles: 385.8
So much for weather forecasts. It was supposed to be clear last night, but it ended up raining off and on all night. It’s a good thing I set up my tarp because it even hailed for a bit. On the brightside I picked a sheltered spot and stayed warm. I also got the best nights sleep of the entire trail. As a result I felt very refreshed this morning. I woke up to the sound of rain hitting my tarp so I slept in a bit. When I woke back up at 6am it had finally stopped. I really dislike packing up a wet tarp, but I finally have a system in dealing with that. Even with sleeping in a bit I was on trail by 7am. The area I was hiking in had soaked up the moisture pretty well so it wasn’t too muddy.
Early morning foggy skies
The first ten miles of the day was much like yesterday. I followed forest service roads through cattle country. The miles were easy and went by quickly. The one improvement from from yesterday was my water sources. I started having creeks streams to drink from instead of muddy cow poop puddles. I stayed well hydrated and I was actually hungry today. I didn’t have to choke my food down. Being at a lower elevation with cooler temps made all the difference in the world.
Road through the forest
One step away from a dry crossing
Shortly before reaching ten miles for the day I had to cross Cochetopa Creek. I think there used to be a bridge, but it had washed out. There was a combination of logs and rocks to get across on. Unfortunately, I came up one step short of a dry crossing. At least only one foot got wet and it was sunny out. After crossing the creek I stopped to dry out my gear from last nights rain. Autumn is definitely upon me. Even with the sun shining I was still chilly. I abandoned trying to dry my gear out. I hiked in my long sleeve shirt until well after noon. There was a pretty substantial wind that kept me slightly cold until the afternoon. Shortly after abandoning drying my gear out I came across a day hiker named Paul. He hiked this area frequently and always keeps extra food in his car. He was parked about three miles away and told me he had Oreos and M&Ms under his front seat. I thanked him and then power hiked to where his car was. The best thing about where he was parked was there was a privy! I was able to go to the bathroom like a civilized human being. It was sunny and warm there so I took a long break to finish drying my gear and my socks and shoes.
The next ten miles were spent hiking up the Cochetopa Creek. I gained about two thousand feet in elevation, but it was very gently graded. The frustrating part of the hike was that it was horribly overgrown, but somehow offered zero shade. The autumn morning had turned into a blazing hot afternoon in the sun. I was lucky to have good water sources all day.
Finding a suitable camp spot was hard. I didn’t want to hike much more than 20 miles today because of town logistics. I’m getting ready to be back in the high country again and I really didn’t want to camp above 11,000ft. I just couldn’t get things to work out nicely. I got to camp around 5pm because if I went any farther I would be past 20 miles and above 12,000 feet. I’m still camped higher than I would like, but I’ll just have to make due. Tonight is supposed to be clear again, but I went ahead and set up the tarp, mainly for some extra warmth. The temperature is going to be in the low 30’s, but I expect it to be even colder at this elevation. It is only 8:30pm and I’m already cold in my layers and sleeping bag. I was very hungry when I got to camp, which is a very welcome change. I devoured my dinner, a Knorr pasta side that I added dehydrated chicken, onion, and bell pepper to. It was delicious! I thought about cooking a ramen too, but I don’t think I have enough fuel. Tomorrow I might not have enough to cook my dinner. I have never run out of fuel before on trail. I might I have this too close. Dinner tomorrow might be cold partially cooked ramen noodles.
High elevation camp site
“I try to be grateful for the abundance of the blessings that I have, for the journey that I'm on and to relish each day as a gift.”
- James McGreevey