Total trip miles: 855
I love this hostel, sleep has been so good here. But hiking calls and an alarm had me up and getting ready to go. The amazing Linda said she would pick us up at 7:30 but Nightcrawler still couldn't find her jacket and told me to take the ride and we'd just catch up on the trail if need be. The only thing we've heard might be tricky this section is the Cochetopa Creek crossing about 30 miles in, the bridge washed out and it's supposed to be deep. But the Colorado Trail Association has said its crossable, you just have to head upstream to a wider and shallower spot. So when Linda arrives it's just me, if the creek is bad I'll wait otherwise we'll still get to Salida the same day.
The drive isn't too long but it's great chatting with Linda and I still can't believe our luck. The best trail magic and trail Angels are the unexpected and this has been my favorite town stop so far because of them. It's been such a treat.
The trail immediately starts with a climb, pretty quick too. Over 1500 ft takings back to the land above treeline. Once up there it's 4ish miles across Snow Mesa. I'll admit I'm crossing my fingers about the snow, it's not a comforting name and I've seen how tough it was 2 weeks ago.
I have the place to myself, except for the pikas and marmots and I've lucked out. Between the rain and record heat these past 2 weeks almost all the snow is gone. There are patches but nothing to get excited about at all.
The Mesa is pretty but I'm more concerned with the gathering thunderheads. The weather said I had until noon and I though I could be across the Mesa and past the high point and into treeline. Well my backpack weighs close to 40 pounds with all my winter gear and 5 days of food, fresh town pack and sore feet mean slow miles. Shoot.
I try to speed up and make it the high point right as thunder starts rumbling. Up and over as it starts to sprinkle. I get pretty close to trees but not quite, hail thunder and lightning sure do help motivate though. Nothing like postholing in patchy snow in a hail storm.
I get to the trees and of course the sun comes out. It gets warmer and it's beautiful dirt trail. Then it's more ups and downs through mostly dirt but occasional patchy snow. Nothing compared to last week.
The bowl leading up to my last pass of the day had the most snow. It did top out at almost 12800 ft. But it really wasn't too bad because I was just following someone else's postholes. Slow but not much grief on my part other than cold toes.
Walking down the trail along Cochetopa Creek it was more mud and creek than trail but no snow so a win.
Pretty beat, not sleeping enough in town always catches up to me. But luckily there are a million places to camp so ticked away into the trees I'm happy.