Day 14, 7/21
Miles: 18.7 (1 to CT, 3.5 alternate route, 14.2 on CT)
Mileage: 183.0 – 197.2 (plus alt. route)
Last night was a late night for us, going to bed just before midnight, so we allow ourselves to sleep in just a little bit. We wake around 7, I eat a pop tart in my sleeping bag. Last year, on the JMT, our friends Andy and Caitlin ate pop tarts for breakfast and I swore I would never do it. I’m too health conscious for that, said I. But here I am, eating pop tarts in my sleeping bag. Who am I becoming? Who still eats pop tarts for breakfast these days, anyways?
We’re walking by 8:30 and we say one last goodbye to Kenny and Chris, our new friends from last night. We run back into the Colorado Trail 4.5 miles into our day, and decide we’ll walk another 7.8, to the end of segment 11, then eat lunch. The miles pass easily, not too steep, not too difficult of a trail. It’s only 1:50 when we arrive at our lunch stop. The Mosquitos are bad here. Real, REAL bad. So bad, that I put my rain gear on so they can’t get to my legs and arms. That helps some, but then my face and hands and feet and ankles are still exposed, and they are still driving me up a wall. I then decide to take my pack cover and put it over my head, eating my lunch from within the realm of a little blue bag. That kinda helps, but then I can’t see anything except for blue, and I can’t talk to Simone or breathe very well, so I eventually retreat back to the outside world. We probably would have taken a longer lunch but damn these mosquitos, they are way too persistent. I quit flailing my arms around for 1/2 second and 15 land on me all at once. We pack up and hit the road as quickly as we possibly can, hoping these awful bugs won’t be so bad when we start walking.
In the parking lot next to where we just ate we find a crew of Colorado Trail Foundation workers. They give me some chocolate and Simone some bug spray, we visit and tell them thank you, they tell us good luck, and we’re on our way. Our last section of trail for tonight consists of a 4.8 mile climb up almost 3,000 ft., then a 1.6 mile descent into a valley where we will camp.
The climb isn’t so bad. It’s well graded, not terribly steep, definitely not as bad as some of the climbs we’ve already had. I am feeling good, considering we have already walked 12.3 miles today, and I slowly but surely make my way up the slope. Everything is great, I’m great, except that I’m almost out of water. And it’s hot. It wasn’t too warm earlier today but at some point the sun came out and decided to bake everything with it’s mighty oven powers, and now it’s really hot out. Somehow we didn’t think about filtering water at lunch time, probably because we were thinking we only have 6.4 miles left to walk, and we both only have about 2/3 of a liter. Only about 30 minutes in I take a big swig because I’m so incredibly thirsty and my mouth is so incredibly dry, and now I only have 1/3 of a liter. Great, I think. 1/3 of a liter of water left, still probably 3 or more miles of climbing, and it’s hot. Its rough all of the sudden, walking up this hill in the baking sun, knowing that I have to save my last gulps of water for some time up the trail, once I’ve finished or almost finished the climb. I check in with Simone a few times and she feels the same way. She’s deathly thirsty, she says. I’m actually a little bit worried now, so I decide to walk, walk, walk, until I reach a water source so I can filter water for the both of us. Finally after eternity passes, I hit a tiny little trickle of water running down the hill and across the trail. There is hardly enough water to filter, but I manage, and I’m thankful we have my new filter. My old sawyer mini never would have been able to suck the drops up that this little trickle is supplying. We gulp and drink and chug almost a whole liter of water before continuing. I love water!
We arrive at camp at 6:15. Not too bad for sleeping in and then walking 18.7 miles, we decide. Today was our longest mileage day yet, and we had a pretty decent sized climb at the end of our day to top things off. We are both tired, but I realize that I actually feel really good for walking that many miles. We head down to the river for our usual routine of washing up in the water, washing clothes, and filtering, then we get to enjoy our first freeze dried meal of the trip- beef stroganoff with noodles. So damn delicious.
Life is so good, I think to myself, as I watch the sun fade behind the mountains that tower over us. The clouds turn to a shade of gold, then a shade of pink, and eventually the sky darkens and I tuck myself into my sleeping bag, thankful for everything today brought, and hopeful for everything tomorrow will become.