It is a beautiful state....a beautiful trail....and the people are beautiful. Hiking the CT was truly a blast.....way more fun than I had dared to anticipate. Hawkeye.
Saturday, August 1, 2015
There is a really good Muley Buck up the hill from me right now....a really, really good one....the best that I have seen this trip, and I have see a whole bunch of 'em. This one is the best....the best ever. He is right up there....I spotted him watching me down here at my campsite. But he is too far for a photo.
I am at 11,331 ft. right now....going up to the alpine tundra one last time tomorrow morning...... and staying up high for about 5 miles on Indian Trail Ridge...... in segment 27. Then, I will reach Kennebec Trailhead and enter Segment 28....the last segment.... and gradually work my way down....down.....down..... to the Junction Creek Trailhead, and the Southern end of The Colorado Trail.... at a mere 6,983 ft. It is 3 1/2 miles into Durango from there. It is almost over.
I plan to finish the trail and be bumming a ride into town by 10 AM, on Sunday Morning, August 2, 2015. Counting that short jaunt to the end , Sunday Morning, that will be 45 days on the trail. I took 4 zero days....so that is 41 days, where I actually did some hiking. We had planned on 46 days total...... so the initial plan was spot on...... except that I covered the miles faster, and was able to take 4 rest days. The young people....and it is mostly young people on this trail....really fun...enthusiastic....nature loving young people....can do it in 30 days..... if they are fit....and most of them are very fit. There are a few of us more mature hikers mixed in with the youthful ones but not as many as were on the AT. (I was going to say old codgers...but the truth is that we have climbed the same mountains as the youngsters....just not as fast.)
I could probably get there (Durango) on Saturday night...... if I pushed hard....but finding a place to stay on a Saturday night would be very tough, and expensive....and I would be tuckered out.... and as soon as I left the trail...based on past experience.... my brain would begin to function at a very low level..... and getting anything accomplished would be tough. So I will stay on the trail Saturday night.
I got up from a nap earlier....pulled on pants and shoes and walked the side trail near my tentsite to a scenic overlook. I had established my campsite at around 2:30 PM.....shortly before the very brief light rain fell. I heard a bit of thunder in the distance, but it never got to me here. And I am at tree level as planned anyhow. As soon as I had eaten my hot meal, sleep beckoned. I was tired....extra tired..... from carrying all that water.
Yesterday afternoon after crossing Straight Creek for the last time, I had filled up my bottles and plastic containers with a total of 6 liters (12 pounds) of water.....the most of this hike. The guide had warned hikers that the creek may be the last water source for 22 miles. If so, that would mean 2 nights of dry camping for me. After getting all of that water, I had hiked about another mile, maybe a mile and a half and set up camp for the first night. I had passed the last campsite before the creek, deciding it was up too high. So I started out today carrying a little over 9 pounds of water. I usually never carry more than 4 pounds, tops. We all know that this is an unusually wet year, on the trail demonstrated by the incredible display of wildflowers...... and that, so far, all of the seasonal water sources, along the trail, have been wet.... which again is very unusual......so we all expect that there will probably be water...... somewhere before 22 miles. We also all know that you don't take chances with water....so everybody.....everybody.....leaves Straight Creek carrying a heavy load. It turns out that there is rare (on this trail) trail magic about 4 miles into the hike today. Two, one gallon plastic jugs in a styrofoam cooler, where the trail crosses a dirt road. The note says "if you need it" , and of course, non of us thru-hikers do need. Maybe some day hikers or section hikers are unprepared. At eight miles more rare trail magic.... a pickup is parked.... with tail gate open and a water sign....two 5 gallon jugs of water inside. I talk to the two section hikers, an older couple, that are leaving the truck to hike. I know them.....I had met them a couple of days earlier, back near Molas Pass. I am tempted to grab some easy water , but my knees and back are already crying about this extra weight that they have been lugging, so I just gab with the couple....leave the water, and hike on.....At 11.7 miles in this segment, I talk to another older couple, who have set up camp already. They tell me there is water in a seep right by their tents....good....clear...water. I am stopping at 12.3 miles, if I can find the spot...( I am not going up top today) for a total 14 1/2 mile day.... and I think I probably have enough water....water that I have now carried about 16 miles....but I fill my Gatorade Quart container anyhow...waiting to treat it when I stop for the day. As I said..... you don't take chances with water. It is a bummer to carry more than you need but a bigger bummer to run out.
( Damn. Two more Muley Bucks just came down the hill, and past my tent at 35 yards. I heard them out there, and saw them through the screening at the bottom of my tent. Did the really big one come down to the meadow too? I should put my pants and shoes back on and go back out and look! I have not been able to get a close picture of a good buck yet. They just will not hold still. Did you see my pictures of those two bull moose? I got those two roughhousing! I could feel the ground shaking as those big boys played. )
After the stroll to the overlook... I had walked back to my tentsite, and sat on a log...purified some water...swatted mosquitoes, and thought about home. But, then I saw that big ole Muley watching me from up there....and I forgot about home. Instead I studied that landscape....trying to guess the route that the big boy would take to come down the hill....... or to figure a way that I could do a sneak on him...... and get close enough for a good picture. I wondered how long the Muley had been watching me before I noticed him. I have spent some time in the woods, and in these mountains.....but he lives here....this is his home.
The whole time I was sitting there visualizing these possibilities, the mosquitoes were feasting on my bare ankles. The mosquitoes, in general, have not been bad....but they are bad today. I could feel them down there chowing down with abandon ......but I was busy with that Muley. I did not put those nasty wet socks back on when I went to the overlook. I was only going to be out of the tent for 15 or 20 minutes. I am wearing my last clean pair tomorrow...and Saturday....and Sunday. So now my ankles are eaten up.....I am back in my tent and Muley Bucks are runnning helter skelter all over the place...right out there! Two Grey Jays are squawking about Muley Bucks outside my tent. It is not even 8 PM and all of the Muleys, in Colorado, are on the move .... to the Meadow....right outside my tent. This hike is not over yet.
Posted by Hawkeye Finn at 4:20 PM