CDT Thru-Hike Week 6. Big Mountains smaller miles
San Isabel National Forest
I skipped the town of Salida and headed through the ski resort into the challanging elevation. The scree rocks rubbed the last of my grip off from my original shoes. With over 1000 miles on them they were ready to be put to rest. I would slip on rocks and had to change my footing. My micro spikes for extra grip. That was especially helpful in the snow fields.
The landscape had evolved into tall ridges gray and green and treeless. Fighter jets would sometimes rocket by at supersonic speeds. I would only see a couple people per day. The mountains seemed to hug me when I was in the valley and leave me exposed at the top.
I played my trekking pole flute in a valley full of rocks. The sound echoed all around. The marmots looked confused. But they always seem to look that way.
Gunnison National Forest
I started hiking up the trail that was an old train bed. Someone told me that there was a train tunnel. “How cool,” I thought. When I got to the tunnel I discovered that it had collapsed long ago. There wasn’t much to see. I filtered some water coming from the tunnel but it tasted like rail road tie oil so I spit it out.
The Collegiate Wilderness
The peaks seemed closer together and my body was having a tough time going up the inclines. I kept losing weight and my food was almost gone. I pushed on motivated by the incredible views. Wonderful purple, white, and yellow colored flowers lined the trail. I sometimes ate the little sugary sacks on the red flowers I called honey suckle. That’s what we called them when I was a kid anyway.
Storm clouds threatened in all directions. As I started the switchbacks of hope pass it began to rain. As I neared the top it turned to hail and the wind picked up. I put on my frog togs and gloves and climbed on. By the time I hit the pass it was snowing and the wind was so strong that I could barely stay on my feet.
I had a different name for that pass at that moment. And I repeated it as my mantra to get down to a warmer elevation. Finaly I was warming up as I approached Twin Lakes so I set up my tent. My cold wet clothes I dumped into my vestibule. Then I climbed into my dry warm clothes and sleeping bag and found hope after all.
The next day I met up with a friend in Aspen. She had a music gig downtown that I watched. I got my 2nd real shower of the hike and 2nd night inside to sleep. Also she gave my a pair of hiking boots to replace my beat up ones. I was refreshed and ready to hit the mountains again.
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