Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Leadville CO

1000 miles done!

The last section was a particularly fun one, in which Sweet As and I decided to hike shorter miles so we could hang out more with Sunshine, Balls, and Beacon. Beacon was able to maneuver his rental car into the mountains and meet with us at the end of each day, and we jumped on the chance to soak in hot tubs and natural springs along the way. And by staying around them, we were able to come onto Leadville the same time the rest of Sunshine's family arrived and have dinner with her mom and sister! I had seen them a few times on the PCT, and was really excited to visit with them again!

At one point, Sweet As and I broke off from the group to take an alternate up Mt Elbert, the tallest peak in Colorado, and while our time on the summit was sunny and perfect, we soon were chased off the peak by thunder, lightning, and sideways snow!

Onward to Breckenridge!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Whoopsie daisy...

So my last blog entry mentioned returning to the trail from Lake City to continue northward. Lies all lies.

Sweet As and I got a ride up to the trailhead with Beacon, but then at the last minute, while pulling into the parking lot, we decided to bail on hiking and take an extra zero day! As a way to justify our behavior, we grabbed sodas and Doritos and hiked south on the trail until we ran into Sunshine and Balls and surprised them. Or more accurately, hid in the woods while Sunshine immediately spotted us...

It was the best kind of zero day, all our bags were packed, ready to go, and we went back to the hostel and ate more and watched movies with Balls and Sunshine. We left 24 hours after we planned, but it was the type of zero day fantasies are made of!

We hiked the next chunk of trail, about 100 miles over the next three days, and rolled into Salida CO. We got to climb our first 14er of the trail- San Luis, and had a stretch of trail that was relatively snow free!

And now, for my rant of the "weak"! Salida is the first town in which hikers that skipped the San Juans, and hikers that walked through them (me), rendezvous. The skippers can take a road walk shortcut and skip some of the most challenging and beautiful miles of the trail, and save them over a week of walking. In years with bad weather or crummy conditions, this option is less of an option and more of a necessity. But this year is a really great year for hiking and people are still choosing to skip the mountains. Reasons such as safety and gear are being cited, but it seems that some people are just being lazy. I find it really frustrating, because these people are saying that they are hiking the "continental divide trail" and yet willingly place themselves on roads and easy alternates. If you want to tell people that you hiked all summer, go for it. But stop telling people you are hiking the CDT when in fact you are taking short cuts and skipping the actual divide. I AM hiking the trail, safely, and sticking to the divide corridor, and I'm irritated by those "thru-hikers" that are devaluing my hike with their alternates. If you want to hike from Mexico to Canada, you can pick any number of easy roads that are faster and shorter. If you want to hike the divide, suck it up, put on your big boy pants, and get out there. Ugh.

Oh and thanks to my Papa for hooking me up with a nice hotel for the night; it was a reverse father's day gift! He should feel so lucky to have a fantastic daughter like me! :)

Friday, June 7, 2013

lake city CO

Well my hitchhiking failed and Sweet As and I spent the night camped by the road. We didn't mind at all, and had enough food, so it didn't bother us at all. In the morning we made coffee by the side of the road, chatted to a day hiker, ate the bananas he offered, and promptly got a hitch down the road from a local. There's a hostel in Lake City, and it had a trickle of hikers over the past few days and was filled with mostly new faces.

The best part of hanging out in town is the eating. The last section of trail was really physically challenging and my body was getting a little worn down and thin, so I supplemented my diet with: a cheesecake, bunny tracks ice cream, jalapeno poppers, "hostel fridge ingredients" nachos, protein shakes, and barbeque. I think it's a conservative estimate to say I ate over 10,000 calories in 24 hours. Hopefully it can propel me forward to the next town!

Coming up we have the chance to summit a 14er, and what appears to be very easy hiking across a mesa. Hopefully for this next section our mileage bounces back into the 30s and we avoid snow for a few days!

Next stop Salida CO. Google it, then look how far I've walked from the Mexican border!!! In 40 days!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The San Juans

Well I'm trying to be a more efficient blogger for those of you that are reading this, so I'm writing this blog entry as I sit on the side of the road hoping for a hitch in Lake City, CO. We weren't planning on getting into town tonight, but the hiking has been miraculously free of snow and we figured since we made it to the road, we might as well try for tonight.

Snow. Ah, snow. This past section had a fair bit of it, but while it the coverage wasn't bad, the quality of the snow was. The melt is currently in full force, and while the temperatures are dropping below freezing at night, the snow is staying warm and soft, and by mid-morning the snow no longer supports our weight and we break through the top layer of ice, anywhere from a few inches all the way to the waist. I hate to gripe about the snow, but there was one day where it felt like Sweet As and I did nothing but post-hole from about 9 am until 7 pm. Our ankles are scratched and bleeding and the skin looks like it belongs on some extinct dinosaur. But we still did our miles, and then some!

We hiked with Sunshine and Balls out of Pagosa Springs, and had a fantastic ride to the trailhead nice and early-ish from Beacon. The mountains were exceptionally rugged looking, and we were happily impressed with the vistas we were rewarded with. We hiked around "knife's edge" which had a reputation for being a very challenging traverse, but due to crummy rock coverage, we ended up having to traverse below to actual trail and walk through rotten snow. It was my most exhausting day yet of the trail, though it was only 20 miles, but we did have alot of rewarding ridge walking.

By the end of this section the trail cleared up nicely and we were back to our normal pace of 3 miles an hour. We hit the junction of the Colorado trail, found delicious trail magic candy, and topped out at 13,274 ft. We have hiked anywhere from 800 to 1000 miles based on what source you use. We learned to put our shoes in plastic bags in our backpacks at night to prevent 15 minutes of pain in the morning from putting on frozen solid shoes. And I discovered that my new exciting orange hiking Spandex do not tolerate UV light well. Ombre Spandex anyone?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Colorado!

I had hoped to write a more thrilling and detailed account of the trail as I took a zero day yesterday, but as zero days go, it was full of chores and eating, and I neglected the blog. But I am indeed in Colorado, having completed approximately 700 miles and the state of New Mexico! I've picked up a new pair of shoes, a new pair of orange Spandex, and more food, but for the most part things are the same. Only thru hikers believe that the same gear they carried in the desert is adequate in the mountains.

And mountains they are! Currently we are hiking in San Juan range, staying mostly above 11,000ft and dabbling in lots of snow, postholing up to the waist, and freezing our shoes at night. A few nights ago, we even got a dusting of freshies!

And now back to the trail after my first zero day, though I felt the zero was unnecessary. The body is holding up just fine, I'm craving big miles and bigger meals, and it feels good to make a dent in the trail.