Cochetopa Creek(337.8) to Spring Creek TH(357.9) 20.1mi
Total Miles: 405.9
I knew it was going to be cold last night, but it was absolutely freezing. The initial condensation buildup on my tarp quickly froze. I drool when I sleep and even that froze. Surprisingly, I stayed just warm enough to get some sleep. I credit my new puffy jacket, Enlightened Equipment Torrid. This puffy is like wearing a sleeping bag! It is only a little bit heavier than the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer 2, that I wore on the PCT and CDT. It is also over $100 cheaper. It was really hard to convince myself to get going this morning. I started off wearing every piece of clothing in my pack. On the bright side because I was wearing everything my pack was extra light, but I should have know better. I had a heck of a climb out of camp and I quickly overheated. Once I reached the top of my first climb I realized two things. First, I failed to charge my cell phone last night and the battery was completely dead. I had it charging in my puffy pocket to keep the battery pack warm and it must have come unplugged. The second thing I realized was that I was right next to a 14er and only 1,400 feet from the summit. It looked so easy to climb from where I was. I made a snap decision to go off trail and tag the summit. I left my pack at the saddle and headed off. It was well worth the extra 1,400ft up and back down. I can add another 14er to my list now. San Luis was a very easy, class one 14er(14,000ft mountain). After putting in an extra 3 miles off trail on my day I decided to only hike 15 miles today. That would leave me with five miles to hike tomorrow morning before getting to the trailhead where I can hitch to Lake City. I have friends meeting me in Lake City, but I don’t expect them until early afternoon. By the time I got back to where I left my pack on the saddle my phone was fully charged. I didn’t stay on the summit for very long because it was freezing up there and I didn’t bring my puffy.
Looking back up at the summit of San Luis from the saddle
Today was the best day yet of the CT. This was what I thought the entire trail would be like. I am finally hiking in the San Juan mountains, which is the mountain range I live in. I am camped 85 miles from home and the end of the trail for me. The San Juan’s are stunning and arguably the best part of the trail. I came across a bunch of day hikers who were all out to tag San Luis. Once again I didn’t see any other thruhikers. I’m in my own little bubble. I know there are thruhikers just ahead of me and behind me though. I came across a CT trail crew doing trail maintenance. They asked me if I had as pushing to Spring Creek Pass. I explained my plan to camp just short of there. They reminded me that there were picnic tables and a privy there. Just like that my plans changed. I would do just about anything for a picnic table at the end of the day! I was reminded of the jingle, “What would you do for a Klondike bar”. For a picnic table I would hike 23 miles, with 5,900ft of vertical gain. I really dislike sitting in the dirt to cook and eat dinner. It just isn’t civilized. I should mention that one of the guys on the trail crew was carrying a 150 year old, four and a half foot saw.
The size of that saw
San Juan Mountains
Some of their handy work
A view of the mountains I had to cross today
Water was plentiful today. I am really enjoying having my water filter. Although this water doesn’t particularly need it, it gives me an excuse to stop and smell the roses. Plus, I think the bleach I was using was concentrated strength and that was upsetting my stomach. Since I have gone back to filtering I haven’t had any stomach issues and I’m finally able to eat every day. I have managed to eat almost all of my food on this stretch.
Nice water source
I did a little bit of research before starting the trail on what type of water sources I can drink straight from without filtering or processing. The above picture I drank straight from the source. It’s a good thing giardia takes up to three weeks to show. If I get sick I’ll already be home. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky today. There temperature was warm with a gentle breeze. I put on sunscreen for only the second time this trail. I was glad I did because I was out in the sun almost all day. Around three o’clock I could really start to feel the effects and I started to get a heat rash and sunburnt. Unfortunately there wasn’t anywhere to get out of the sun. I had to get creative and wrap myself in my tyvek sheet. I put on more sunscreen and stayed in the tyvek shade until I felt that my skin had absorbed it. It was the first time I thought to use my tyvek like that.
Not a cloud in the sky and very dead trees
After climbing mountains all day my last five miles were spent hiking on a Mesa. It was a good thing too because my legs and feet were shot. The thought of having a picnic table to end the day spurned me on. I have really been struggling to hike uphill on this trip. If you have read my blog before you know just how strange that is. Usually I relish hiking up mountains. It is my greatest strength as a hiker. This year I have just plodded your and really dreaded doing it. I think climbing the 14er finally gave me the confidence I needed. I remembered that I am Master Yoda and I like destroying mountains. The rest of the day I excelled again. It is a good thing I remembered who I am. The next 85 miles are all big mountains with lots of climbing.
Hiking on the Mesa
I made it to the promised land a little before 6:30. I immediately got my gear out to dry. I didn’t do it during the day because it was so windy I didn’t want to take the chance of my sleeping bag or tarp flying away. Then I got my ramen out and started cold soaking it. I was really concerned that I didn’t have enough fuel left to cook it properly. If it soaked long enough at least it wouldn’t be crunchy. As that was soaking I used the privy and then set up my camp. A nice guy at the trailhead gave me some water which helped save me some time. He even offered me a glass of wine which paired nicely with my ramen, dehydrated chicken, onion, and bell pepper. After this was all done I finally sat down at my picnic table to enjoy my meal. Adding my homemade dehydrated food to my meals has been a game changer. My chicken, onion, and bell pepper mix has really done wonders to my ramen and pasta sides. My picnic table was everything I hoped it would be and more. I was bundled up and in bed by 8 o’clock. It feels like I’m in for another chilly night. I am already shivering, but I’m pretty sure that is because of the slight sunburn I got today.
The promised land
A friend to keep me company during dinner
Thanks to the music of The Motet, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Pigeons Playing Pingpong, Paul Cauthen, and Billy Strings for helping me through today
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” - Denis Waitley