CT Part 5- Short and Long Days

With just 150 miles left in the trail, we took a slightly unusual approach in our mileage between Spring Creek Pass and Molas Pass.

Day 21- To the Yurt

A slow morning in Lake City meant that we didn’t hit the trail at Spring Creek Pass until 11 a.m. This put us hiking more in the prime time for storms than normal. Several exposed sections, a normal component of the Colorado Trail through the San Juans, gave me fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and storms.

There is normally a yurt for rent roughly eight miles from Spring Creek Pass. Likely due to COVID concerns, the yurt was not set up this year, although the platform and materials still reside there. Fortunately, I was still able to hunker from storms in my tent in the nearby trees.

Day 22- 40 Miles Through the San Juans

If I had continued on from the yurt, it would have meant limited camping below treeline as the trail goes to its highest point. Rather than risking getting caught in a thunderstorm, we opted for an early start.

Our miles brought us down off the high point and through a series of valleys, going up and over a pass after each one. Although the elevation change was never too intense, the nearly constant undulations definitely added up.

The day was able to flow well thanks partially to unusual weather for July in Colorado. While afternoon thunderstorms are normally part of the day, the steady clouds and off-and-on rain kept the thunderstorms from building up too much. Only once during the day did I hear thunder, as I approached Maggie Gulch. Fortunately, the storm stayed just to the south and west of Stony Pass.

Between Maggie Gulch and Stony Pass, I passed through this massive herd of sheep grazing along the trail.

The final eight miles of the day were spent back in the trees and partially in the dark, with a finish right before 10 p.m. Those miles also included five separate fields of avalanche debris. This one, the first as you head south, was the largest and I was very fortunate to have crossed in the daylight and with others. The other four were crossed alone in the dark. However, they were well-trodden by fellow hikers and well-marked by volunteers making them slow going, but relatively easy and safe to cross.

Day 23- The Last Nero

Just as after the 30-mile day, I did feel too sore as I made my way into Silverton following the 40-mile day. A very gradual climb brought us up above the Animas River and gave us the views we had missed in the dark the day before.

After one night in Silverton to resupply and eat good food, we decided to spend a second night in Silverton for few reasons. Some of my trail family was dealing with larger injuries and needed the extra recovery time. We were also able to get a ride from another hiker, who had acquired a rental car, to Telluride for the day to get some supplies from the outdoor store and see the town. Finally, the weather more resembled the Pacific Northwest than Colorado and, by holding off on the hike, we hoped to miss most of the all-day rain.

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