Friday, November 10, 2017

Day 13: The Cruelest Form of Torture

September 6: Looking at my guidebook, I figured I would have either a really long day of hiking (23.3 miles) or a really short day of hiking (16.5 miles). It would be one or the other, however, because it didn't appear that there were any campsites between those two locations, but even if there was a campsite, it would be near the top of an exposed ridge that--given the afternoon thunderstorms, I would have preferred to avoid.

I made another attempt of a long-exposure photo of a stream this morning.

I decided to go for the long hike, so I woke up for a particularly early start (about 6:45) and hit the trail. When I reached the short destination, I could always stop if I felt too tired to complete the long hike.

Even before the sun rose, I could tell that the smoke and haze from the distance wildfires had grown worse today, but there wasn't anything I could do about that except grumble at the hazy photos I was taking.

The trail descended towards the Twin Lakes Reservoir--a surprisingly desert-like terrain around the man-made lake. The trail passed by a paid, drive-in campground--which I had no intention of staying at, but I figured it was a good time to use the bathroom so I wouldn't have to worry about dropping a load out in the woods. Sweet relief! So I was rather upset when I walked up to a restroom to discover it had been locked. Had they closed for the season? I bet this campsite was packed during Labor Day weekend two days earlier. Did they lock up shop in the past two days? Bastards!

Annoyed, I continued on and along the reservoir passed some picnic areas and take-outs for the lake and I thought, "Yes! Another bathroom!" But it too was locked. And so was the next one. I stopped checking bathrooms after that. I knew they'd all be locked. Bastards. I had an urge to poop next to the door of the bathroom and leave a note that said, "Next time, leave the door unlocked!" Unfortunately, they were all located within easy view of a busy highway, which helped talk me out of that idea. It was the cruelest form of torture.

Twin Lakes Reservoir in the distance. With a heck of a lot of smoke and haze obscuring the view!

Later in the afternoon, I did my thing in the woods, well-hidden from view.

The trail stayed almost absolutely flat for a wonderful 4.6 miles, eventually passing over the dam that created the Twin Lakes Reservoir, and then reaching a point where the Colorado Trail splits--the Collegiate West and Collegiate East routes that, together, make up the Collegiate Loop.

I veered off onto the Collegiate East route since, as far as I could determine, it was considered the main path of the Colorado Trail. I knew the Collegiate West route stayed closer to the continental divide so I figured I'd do that section if or when I ever thru-hiked the CDT. For the Colorado Trail, I'd take the Collegiate East.

But both routes are considered part of the Colorado Trail, and I wondered which direction most thru-hikers tended to chose. I had no idea.

Early in the afternoon, I reached my short-day goal by Clear Creek, and I laid down and rested for the better part of an hour. I was tired having taken nothing but the shortest of rests, and the next campsite was nearly 7 miles away--but it would be the most difficult 7 miles of the day with a 2,500' climb up, before a 1,000' drop to Pine Creek.

Near the top of the pass, strong winds and angry clouds were blowing in. Thunder rolled off the hillsides, and I could see rain in the distance--but it seemed to danced around my location. For the moment, at least. I picked up my pace to get down the other side of the pass as quickly as possible.

I was a little annoyed to arrive at Pine Creek and found about a dozen college-aged students spread out across the entire area filling up every campsite. I could tell they were all together because they all used the exact same model of tent. Some sort of school activity, to be sure, but large groups annoy me--and the annoyance was exasperated by them spreading out leaving no space for others.

If the sun wasn't already on the verge of sunset and I hadn't been so tired after walking 23.3 miles, I'd have wanted to push on to the next campsite to get away from the crowd. But it was too late for that, and I found a location in the trees--not an official campsite, but off-trail and clear of rocks and brush where I could camp for the night. It wasn't as flat as I would have preferred, but it gave me somewhere to camp for the night.

Twin Lakes Reservoir
These mountains are only a few miles away, but I could barely see them at times because of the thick smoke!

Passing under Highway 82.
Twin Lakes

The dam is only for foot and bike traffic. No vehicles allowed!
I think this is the emergency spillway for the dam.
The exit point of the emergency spillway.
Turkey vulture! Sorry he turned out so blurry. I can trouble getting it to focus on the bird and not the background, then it flew off before I got a good shot.

One of the most confusing signs I've ever seen on a trail! It's where the Colorado Trail (CT) and Continental Divide Trail (CDT) splits into the Collegiate West and Collegiate East sections. I came from the CT/CDT part, and would continue on on the Collegiate East direction. I'll do the Collegiate West section if and when I ever thru-hike the CDT.

That's the Clear Lake Reservoir in the distance.
This is also a very desert-like environment that reminded me a lot of the Arizona Trail!

Crossing Clear Creek
I love all the aspen changing colors!

What could the H mean? We may never know!


Karolina said...

Cactus!!!! Turkey vulture!!! How exotic! ;-o)

KuKu said...

I was on a cruise by myself and we were leaving Puerto Vallarta. I was enjoying the setting sun on the back of the boat when a whale was barely cresting behind us.

I took a few pictures with my disposable camera that barely showed anything but the railing, the water and a leeeetle bit of whale.

However, when I saw them much later, I loved them, as I had forgotten all about it!

Sometimes, even the blurriest of photos can be great.