Total trip miles: 915.4
Packing was a slow affair this morning, a condensation soaked tent is not a great motivator. Oh well, that's why I hate camping in meadows.
I start with less than 2 miles to the CO 116 trailhead. Overall the day looks like it will be at a higher elevation with a few more climbs than yesterday but nothing too exciting. Plus I have an encouraging note from J. Ley warning of a long rocky trail. Yay?
Thanks J. Ley, glad to know I shouldn't let the rocks be my downfall. Seriously though I love his comments, I'm always sad when my maps have no pithy remarks. I'm totally stockpiling my favorites to read later.
A few miles in I left the road for trail and spent the next few hours rolling along the divide through the Cochetopa Hills. It's forest, lots of dead trees I'm guessing from the beetle kill (which is incredibly widespread and devastating out here) but there's trail and some shade which is nice.
Obstacle courses are fun but every time I don't have to clamber over trees I'm pretty thrilled. It feels like a trail crew has been out pretty recently as there's still fresh sawdust and a ton of the blowdowns are no longer blocking the trail. I love trail crews.
I get my first water around 11. I've gotten spoiled by the snow. It's a pain to walk through but it means I don't worry about water. Looks like it's a 14 mile dry stretch and then an 11 with a dry camp somewhere in there. I'm hoping I cross some unmarked seasonal stuff but so far the hills have been darn dry.
The afternoon is more of the same. It drags on as it heats up. I catch myself whining out loud about the heat, oh well maybe I'm keeping the squirrels entertained. I definitely scared at least one moose. The last town said they were having a heat spell, it sure feels like it.
At Tank Seven Creek I grab water to camp and decide to head a bit farther. It's not quite late enough for me plus I'd like to make tomorrow even a little easier so all the miles today help. If I don't run into too much snow I think I can make it to Monarch Pass and hitch into Salida.
I skip the pretty spot for sunset because the wind is so bad. There are some ominous clouds up in the mountains and the mosquitoes are ramping up so a tent doesn't seem optional tonight. It's only 7.5 miles to water in the morning and 18.2 to the Pass I'm crossing my fingers it's smooth sailing. I passed a few snow patches today but other than stuffing some into my hat it was totally uneventful, you could walk right around each one. I'd heard the last 8 or so miles into the pass were pretty lousy but that was before all this heat. Either way that's what I'm aiming for.