Trail Update: Segments 20-24

Segment 20: 12.7 Miles

I had a pretty incredible 12 hours in this segment. I had set up camp next to a babbling brook; not too close for comfort but close enough to hear the babble. Around 9 p.m. (also known as hiker midnight) I started to drift off and dusk was really settling in. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like a large animal barreling into a deep part of the stream and shaking off the water. I quickly scrambled out of my sleeping bag and flew open the tent fly, poised with my trekking pole held out like a spear. I saw nothing. Another hiker told me he had seen a moose in the area that day and black bears are common. All I know was that it was big and it must’ve been as scared as I was to have taken off that quickly.

The next morning, I woke up just as the sun was rising and quickly broke down camp. There was frost all over my tent fly and it was unusually cold, but my gloves kept my hands comfortable. Once I started hiking and warmed up, I noticed it had started to drizzle. I looked to the mountains lining the valley and stopped in my tracks. The most magical and perfect double rainbow was right in front of me: close enough that if leprechauns were real I would be a very rich woman. I enjoyed it until it faded into the clouds and continued on my way, incredibly grateful I’m a maniac and get on trail by 6 a.m. every day.

I immediately ate my words when I came across a creek rushing up to my mid-calves that needed to be forded. Usually I don’t mind fording creeks… but this was my first ice cold pre-7 a.m. fording. Before I could talk myself out of it, I quickly removed my shoes and socks and plunged my bare feet into the icy water. I’ve learned that I have to override the voice of reason in my head before it even starts talking or I’ll get nowhere. It didn’t take long for the warmth to return to my feet after coming out on the other bank and returning them to my dry shoes and socks; and it didn’t take much longer than that for me to slip and completely submerge my foot in another icy creek just a few miles down the trail.

Segment 21: 14.8 Miles

Whether or not you believe me, there is a moose in this picture. I had never seen one before, in the wild or in captivity. We walked over plenty of moose poop in the Northeast, and there was no shortage on this trail too. Legs and I were getting a shuttle back to the trail after a day in town when the driver told us his favorite moose poop facts. “Did you guys know moose have the cleanest poop of any animal?” We shook our heads. “You know why that is, don’t you?” He started fiddling with a small piece of moose poop around his neck on a chain. “They eat twigs and branches! That’s it! Isn’t it amazing something that enormous and dangerous survives on twigs?” What really matter to us was that’s one less animal we have to worry about coming after our food.

Segment 22: 17.2 Miles

I was excited to get to this segment because I knew Legs was waiting for me at the trailhead with my last resupply of the trip. I was a mile out when I saw Flynn’s dopey face emerge from the trees. I called out to the pups and both charged full speed up the trail toward me. Once we had said our hellos, Legs told me to check Thru’s backpack. I unzipped the pockets and found goldfish, coconut water, and frosted animal crackers… my weaknesses. I stayed at the camper for a few hours alternating between relaxing and shoving food in my mouth.

After resupplying, I stepped out of the camper and looked toward the trail… and saw giant black clouds closing in on the direction I was going. I pouted at Legs for a moment and joked about taking a town day, but I had too much momentum to take any more breaks from the trail. I walked away from the camper refreshed and ready for the last 125 miles.

Segment 23: 15.9 Miles

I spent most of this segment wondering what the giant storm clouds I had seen creeping across the sky had in mind for the afternoon. This segment was very high, and I don’t just say that because it’s Colorado. I was above treeline the entire day and finally gave up testing my luck after an unsatisfying amount of miles. I settled down next to a small mountain pond coupled with snow and marmot squeaks. The entire package for a campsite!

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