Day 21, 7/28
Miles: 22.1 +1 for water
Mileage: 266.8 – 288.9
We met some guys last night who’d walked over and offered us to occupy their fire while they went out to look for deer and elk. They were on a pre-hunting trip, scouting out the lands for high population areas. Horses were tied up in the trees, a Ford F350 stood in front of a giant horse trailer taking up an excess of space that could have been occupied by green luscious grass and bushes and bugs. We accepted their offer and stood around the fire for a good hour, then ventured over to the horses, fed them grass and pet them. Squat went snooping around in their cooler wishing we could eat more food. We’ve been thinking about food so much the last few days. The guys got back in the evening and we all stood around the fire discussing hunting and hiking, asking questions about the two subjects that were so foreign to the other party.
We are walking by 8, an hour later than we had hoped. Always. An hour into our walk we run into the two guys again, up on a ridge, where they had 4-wheeled up to and we had walked up to. They were laying down on the side of the hill, camo on, looking into small telescopes at the hills directly across from us. We walked off the trial to talk for a few, they offered to show us some buck. It was actually pretty cool, looking through this tiny lens at a hill across the way. We saw groups of bucks sitting together in the grass, lounging and napping in the morning sun. So many of them! Why aren’t they over here? Why do they have to be so far away?
We’d decided to make this a fairly long day- almost 23 miles. The first miles actually pass slow. We walk up a hill and down the other side, up another and down some more. I’ve learned how much the Colorado Trail loves to make you walk directly up one slope only to bring you right back down then right back up again. Over and over. Sometimes I wonder why they don’t just even out the trail. But that wouldn’t be any fun now would it?
5 or 6 miles in we run into Dan, our trail dad, who’d started a while before us this morning. We pass him up and pretty soon I find my rhythm, and I walk all the way to our lunch spot at a creek close to mile 12. We’re now on our third day of Amy’s burritos for lunch, and I’m seriously in love. The CDT thru hiker, Scarecrow, who gave us this idea is truly brilliant and I’m so thankful for his advice as I destroy a bean and rice and cheese burrito with chips and hot sauce. I eat so much food, and I love every bite. There are some squirrels scheming to steal our food and we have to shoe them away constantly as three of them come at us from three different directions all at once. Smart little monsters!
As soon as we leave from lunch the rain starts falling. I put my rain coat on, but leave the pants off, and start walking up, up, up, through a large field of green grass. All of a sudden there are cows next to us, mooing as we walk up the trail. We stop and laugh and stare at them and talk to them. I can’t quit thinking how funny it is that I’m walking beside a bunch of cows on the Colorado Trail. We turn the corner and there’s more cows, then another corner and short hill later there’s MORE cows. So many cows! Now we’re in a big giant wide open field and there’s 50 cows or so mooing around in the field staring at us blankly. A few of them are only a few feet off the trail and they just stop and stare as we walk by, rolling grass around in their mouth, looking so stupid and blank as if their brains fried and are thinking absolutely nothing.
We make it to Sargent’s Mesa, a flat, open plateau at the end of segment 16, and now the rain starts to come down hard. Then the rain turns to hail. We’re walking on the side of the path which has turned into a steady stream of flowing water, hail pelting my legs, and it actually hurts. It’s stinging my legs! We decide that it’s kinda fun but also kinda miserable, walking in this pounding rain and hail. All our shits getting so wet. I have a pack cover and rain jacket on but at this point the rain is flowing down between my back and backpack, and the water is beginning to penetrate through my “waterproof” layers.
We walk through the rain the rest of the evening, although it does let up just a bit. It’s now a steady drizzle, fog is floating around everywhere making everything look dreary and boring. We can no longer see the surrounding hills, and we’re just marching through a little tunnel of trees. The last 5 miles kind of suck, being cold and wet to the bone, my shoes and socks sloshing with each step, water dripping off my hood and pack and running down my legs.
At last, I smell the familiar, inviting smell of a campfire. Campfire! Yes! I’m thinking. I immediately guess that it’s our friends Jody and Mikey, cause of course they always make a good campfire. I round the corner 30 seconds later and there’s Jody! We love reunions. We hug and catch up on the last few days, Squat shows up and I’m huddled around the fire.
It’s still raining pretty heavily but the fire really saved my life. I’m able to warm my feet just a little, and actually enjoy eating my food under a wet sky. We talk and hang out and eat and stand by the fire until finally I can hardly take the rain any longer, and I retreat back to the tent. Squat and I talk for a while about random, strange, funny things to talk about at night. I think one of us may have drifted off mid-sentence, because I don’t remember the conversation ending, and I don’t remember falling asleep. Everything’s so wet outside and I’m curled up in a warm, cozy bundle of goose down drifting off to sleep in the comfort of my back country home. Sweet, sweet sleep.