Monday, November 6, 2017

Day 11: Labor Day Festivities

September 4: Happy Labor Day! For today, it was Labor Day! My plan was simple: A short, little hike covering about 20 miles. My topo map suggested that the terrain wouldn't be too hard. A little bit of up, a little bit of down, but nothing particularly steep or prolonged.

And the day certainly started off that way. I made good time coming out from Camp Hale, walking along mostly flat terrain. Almost immediately out of Camp Hale the trail followed parallel to Highway 24, busy with traffic, and I was glad I stopped when I did. I hadn't heard any traffic from my location, but it would have bothered me along this stretch.

The trail eventually crossed the highway, running alongside a scenic meadow, then along a trail so utterly flat and wide that I was certain it had to be a rail-to-trail. I knocked out the first ten miles--half the trail!--a little after 11:00 in the morning. I was burning up the trail!

The trail then headed into the Holy Cross Wilderness, which I was happy to reach because it meant the annoying parade of bicyclists had come to an end. The first few miles of the morning they weren't a bother--it was too early for the bicyclists to have hit the trail yet, but the previous day it seemed like they'd pass by me every five minutes which grew increasingly annoying. But since bikes are banned in wilderness areas, they had to take a large detour on roads going through Leadville. (Leadville is also a popular resupply point for hikers, but I intended to skip it.) Without the bikes, I could count on one hand the number of people I saw all day. Which was surprising to me given the fact that it was Labor Day. A lot of people go out and hike or backpack Labor Day weekend, but Holy Cross Wilderness did not appear to be one of those places!

Not that I had a problem with bicyclists. They were generally all very polite and friendly, but the sheer numbers of them--seemed like I passed at least a hundred of them the day before--wore on me.

But I petered and found myself tired and dragging the second half the day. It wasn't as flat as the first half, but still it was nothing steep or strenuous. The very end of the day included a steady 2,000 foot drop--which wasn't particularly steep but I walked down like it was uphill. I just lost my motivation.

I made it to the Timberline Lake trailhead, which had prominent "no camping" signs in the parking lot, so I pushed on. Not that I really wanted to camp in a parking lot anyhow, but I was definitely done and on the prowl for a campsite. I walked maybe five minutes further down the trail and found a nice site not far from a creek. I didn't know if that close to the parking lot counted as part of the "no camping" area, but it was late in the afternoon, getting dark, and I doubted anyone would ever be none-the-wiser.

So I called it a day, counted up my miles and discovered I had completed a solid 20.0 miles for the day. My first 20-mile day of the trail. Maybe that's why I was so tired....

I found this bench along the trail and couldn't help but rest and give it a try!
That's an odd warning....
Good thing they warned me about this bridge. I might have missed it and walked right into the ditch otherwise! (Not....)
This bridge didn't come with a warning, and I accidentally walked into the creek. *rolling eyes* (Totally kidding!)

Boundary of the Holy Cross Wilderness. The box near the right has permits for people to fill out.
It looks like it's been a long while since this permit box was maintained, though! I couldn't find any unused permits, so I never actually filled out a permit for this wilderness area. Probably an illegal act on my part, but I'm a bad-ass and didn't really care. =)

A campsite visitor!
Another campsite visitor!

No comments: