Friday, October 20, 2017

Day 3: Afternoon Thunderstorms

August 27: The morning was cool but sunny, and unlike yesterday, I'd spend most of the day walking through thick forests with limited views. My headache from the evening before had long since disappeared and I felt good. My hips were still sore from carrying a too-heavy pack, but that was normal at the start of a hike for me. I'm not trail hardened yet.

And most of the day was completely boring and uneventful. The trail stayed mostly level for the first few miles of the day, then steadily climbed to higher elevations the rest of the day surpassing the 10,000-foot (3500 m) elevation mark late in the day. It was the first time the trail climbed over 10,000 feet, but I knew I'd be spending most of my hike at these lofty elevations. The trail started low, but from here on out, it would spend most of it's time above this level. Near passes, it might drop down to about 9,000 feet, but I was in the high country now and wouldn't come out of it again until the end of the trail.

But surprising me was the utter lack of views for most of the route. I figured 10,000 feet should be well above tree level and provide ample views in every direction, but I was stuck in trees all day with just an occasion break with a view. I was a little disappointed about that.

On the plus side, the trail was passing through its first wilderness area--the Lost Creek Wilderness. I was happy about this because I was getting tired of the endless number of mountain bikers passing me on the trail. I don't mind people on the trail, but I like them in moderation and it seemed like bikes had been passing me every five minutes the day before. And because they travel so much faster than I did, it's not like I could chat with them and get to know them at all. But! Bikes aren't allowed in wilderness areas and thru-bikers had to veer off on a detour following roads that went around the wilderness area. Without the constant presence of mountain bikers passing every five minutes, I suddenly felt like I had the trail to myself. Bikes outnumbered hikers by a huge margin, and without the bikes, I felt alone in the woods. Which was okay by me. I liked some alone time.

Late in the day, I heard the first rumble of thunder bouncing around the hillsides. The Colorado Trail is legendary for its afternoon thunderstorms and it appeared that I'd be facing the first of them. I've read that they're much more common in August than September so I hoped my late start on the trail might limit how much walking I'd have to do in such storms, but I knew I wouldn't avoid them completely. And I didn't!

When it started to sprinkle, I decided to set up my tarp and see if I could wait it out. I've also heard that if you don't like the weather in the mountains of Colorado, you can wait 20 minutes for it to change. I wanted to try it. =)

And remarkably, it worked! I stayed safe and dry under my tarp, writing in my journal and reading my Kindle, and about 20 minutes later the rain tapered off. I packed up my tarp and kept hiking.

An hour or two later, it started sprinkling again and I repeated the process. As the rain tapered off again, I packed up the tarp and continued hiking.

After 17.1 miles, I reached a wonderful viewpoint overlooking a scenic meadow and decided that was a great place to camp. It wasn't near water, but I carried enough to get me through the night and there was a creek just a mile or so further down the trail that I could fill up at the next morning.

I camped alone this time. The rain had stopped, but clouds still looked threatening and I had trouble deciding if I should set up the tarp or not. Eventually I decided not to--but I set up camp next to trees that would allow me to set it up quickly without moving if rain did start again.

But it didn't, and life was good!

I set up camp at this scenic viewpoint! It was a wonderful evening. =)
My campsite for the night

Yeah, I think I'll do that. *nodding* =)
For a mile or so along the trail, I could hear what sounded like guns and bombs going off.
Stay on trail, stay on trail....

There were a lot more water sources along the trail today.

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