Day 99 – 104 Colorado ‘flatlands’
Day 99 – Zero in Salida
Lazy zero in town. Lounged about for awhile, met up with Hana, Brock, Pierre, and Rick Flair at a pizza bar with decent pizza and *really* slow service. The rest of the evening was taken up by a hiker party at an airbnb that Beekeeper and Kismet organized. It was a fun evening.
One hundred days on trail! Didn’t know that until I started writing.
Slow start due to being in an airbnb and having a bed and such. Eventually caught a ride back up to the pass with Dan, Beekeeper and Kismet’s friend. The hiking wasn’t anything special; lot of easy ridgewalking. Though there were a bunch of mountain bikers.
Camped at a cabin maintained by a snowmobile club. Nice cabin though I’m still tenting. The rest of the gang caught up and there are quite a few hikers here.
Tomorrow has easy looking trail but a 22 mile water carry. Hm.
Seeing my ‘easy looking trail’ comment from yesterday is a bit of a slap in the face. Moderate elevation gain today but the trail was rocky, oh so rocky. This section of the trail allows dirt bikes and they’ve certainly chewed up the trail. It made my feet hurt quite a bit.
Much easier day. Still on a portion of trail where dirt bikes are allowed and in places the trail was chewed up. But the majority of the trail today was on dirt roads of some variety.
Definitely the cow country of Colorado. Also, compared with the rest of Colorado, it was downright flat. Still 3,500′ of elevation but compared to the last few weeks…
Day 103 – Close calls
Well, that was a day. Unlike the previous few days, the trail wasn’t (Colorado) flat. Also, unlike the previous few days, it wasn’t bluebird sky all day.
The morning was easy. The last of the flatlands. Around noon, Rick Flair, Pierre, Beekeeper and I went off on an alternate that went to the summit of San Luis peak, a 14er, instead of around. Extra climbing over the red line but similar distance.
Just before we got to the summit ridge the weather turns. Cresting the ridge brought us tons of wind and a view of a patchwork of storm clouds. We decided to summit anyhow as the bail out trail looked precarious. We got to the summit and within a minute there was a buzzing sound and static electricity. We ran (literally) down the ridge. My pole shocked me through my dry glove. It was surprising coming from a carbon fiber pole; didn’t think much about it until later though.
Said goodbye to Beekeeper and Kismet a few miles later – they’re taking the Creede cutoff and I won’t be seeing them again on trail.
The remainder of the evening was hiking through a patchwork of storms. Hail and thunder, and once we lost more elevation, just rain. The night ending with setting up camp in the rain a panicked but satisfying thing to do.
Falling asleep listening to elk bugle and distant rolling thunder.
Day 104 – Wind! So much wind!
Lots of wind, occasionally rain, and elk bugling through the night. Including one (I think) elk that kept going at it all night. Slept well regardless; being in a tent in rough conditions is satisfying. Until it’s 6 am and you’re faced with breaking camp in them.
The hike into town would have been easy normally. Instead there was wind. Lots and lots. Purportedly gusts at 75 knots (85ish mph). Not sure how accurate it was but it was strong enough that I had to stop and brace against it at times. In one section leaning into the wind enough that my head was ~18 inches out past my feet. Just to walk in a straight line.
Eventually got off the mesa and down to the road. Though I passed a number of mountain bikers who were headed up. Hopefully they managed ok.
We got a hitch into town just as Pierre and Rick Flair got down to the road. From a very nice couple who passed us a couple minutes prior and came back for us.
Lake city is an odd small town. Mostly because nearly everything is closed. Being in a bed after the past day and a half is nice, though.
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