CT Part 4- Over San Luis

After a zero day in Salida to eat good food and celebrate my birthday, I went back out on the trail for a final push toward Oleo Ranch, my second-to-last resupply.

Day 15- End of the CW

The day began with a ride back to Monarch Pass and then a few miles along the final section of the Collegiate West. I hiked with beautiful views and clear skies through the intersection with the Collegiate East.

My hike was interrupted by a dusky grouse and several chicks along the trail. A break for some cute animals on trail is always welcome and I was more than happy to pause for a few moments to let them pass.

Day 16- The First Day of Feeling ‘Meh’

Meadows, cows, and meadows full of cows filled the morning with some smiles, especially from this snuggly pair.

A highlight of the day was visiting the Soldierstone, a monument dedicated to both the soldiers and civilians affected by the American war in Vietnam. It was wonderful to see inscriptions written in every language spoken by those involved in the Vietnam War and not just in English.

Throughout the trail, the birds have been frequently busy flying and flitting around in search of food, including this gray jay.

Day 17- The Easy 30

While lying in bed in Breckenridge, I spent some time finding the “flattest” section of the trail for a possible 30-mile day. Now I was finally making that happen. The first half of the day consisted largely of flattish miles over dirt roads and around cows. Gradual undulations kept the trail exciting and the movement from being too repetitive.

Even when the trail turned back to singletrack from roads, there were never any massive hills or passes to climb, only a constant up and down on little hills. Some brief rain brought relief from the hot afternoon sun and the clouds stayed overhead to keep the rest of the evening cool.

Nearing the end of the day, with five miles remaining, I met up with several other hikers: Cricket, Dirty Avocado, Pistol Pete, Take 2, and Blood Queen. Together we hiked the remaining miles to a good campsite only a short distance from San Luis Peak, our objective for the next day.

Day 18- San Luis Peak

For having done my first 30-mile day on the 17th, my legs felt relatively good going up San Luis Peak. Especially when I started slackpacking from the saddle up the final 1.5 miles, I felt absolutely light as a feather. Perhaps I should give hiking without a pack more of a try.

Looking back at San Luis Peak after a successful summit and another mile or two south on the Colorado Trail.

After a few more miles on the trail, we decided to go into Creede for the night for some hot food and a resupply for some of us.

Day 19- Post-Creede

A slightly bumpy, and muddy, ride in a truck bed brought us back to the trailhead. Once back on the actual CT, we hiked farther from San Luis Peak and closer to Durango.

After only a few miles, we decided to stop for the day. While we didn’t hike or set up in the rain, brief showers after dinner forced us into our tents. The light of the low sun coming in underneath the clouds provided a beautiful ending to the day.

Day 20- Snow Mesa

An early start to the day, my preference for hiking, allowed me to catch a sight of this northern flicker finding its breakfast.

One of my favorite things about backpacking, or spending time outside, is being able to begin your day with the sun, or just before it rises. A clear morning and the first rays of the sun are always worth a celebration, especially with such incredible views.

The miles across Snow Mesa were filled with continuous 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains, including Uncompahgre Peak on the far right of this photo.

With a massive herd of sheep just down the road from Spring Creek Pass, I got off Snow Mesa and began walking to my resupply box waiting for me at Oleo Ranch. Just as I was approaching the dirt road that would take me to the ranch, the caretakers stopped and let me hop on the back of their truck. After transferring my new food to my OPSak and being given two ice cold Cokes, they gave me a ride all the way back to Spring Creek Pass, turning a 4.5 mile roadwalk into only a mile. From Spring Creek, I found a ride down to Lake City so my trail family could resupply from their boxes waiting at the post office. What was intended to be a quick trip into town turned into a night sleeping in the yard of a friend of one of my trail family members and a late morning back to the trail the next day.

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