Monday, July 13, 2015

Day 69: Towards the Collegiates

6/29: mile1082.4-1098.9
Miles: 16.5
Total trip miles: 950.1

We never leave town quickly but at least we always pretend it might happen. We did make it to the post office by 8 where I happily said goodbye to about 5 pounds of extra gear including my snowshoes. The ice axe, gaiters and a few other things will stay one more section just in case and then it's goodbye to 3-5 more pounds, woohoo!

Resupply chaos with Hard Times and Nightcrawler

One of the guys staying at the hostel gave Nightcrawler and I a ride back to the pass. Hard Times is leaving later and I have no idea what the couple from Georgia are planning. Back at the pass there were 3 new hikers! We'll sort of new, I knew one but mostly it's just fun to see any hikers. I hung around chatting for way too long and finally at noon started hiking. Nightcrawler had to stick around a bit longer, her battery pack is broken so she bought one on the way out of town but had to charge the thing. She has plans to go to Leadville while I'm stopping a day earlier at Twin Lakes (twin lakes is small but on trail, Leadville means hitching). I'm thinking I might do a side trip right after Twin Lakes up Mt Elbert, one of Colorado's 14000 ft peaks. But really it's way to soon for me to decide and I know I'll see her on trail sooner than later. A very long way of saying more solo hiking.

The trail picked up right on the other side of Highway 50 and headed into the Monarch Ski Resort. I always like staring at the chairlifts in summer, plus you get to walk on easy road for at least a little while.

It's mostly climbing on dirt roads and then more climbing but on trail. The route heads up above treeline and I try not to make eye contact with the thunderheads to my west. This makes no difference to the weather but it's like hide and seek when you're little, I can't see you so you can't see me right? The thunder rumbles a few times but seems to be dumping rain to the east and other than a few sprinkles I stay dry. It's hot and I'm dragging up the mountain but it's gorgeous which helps.

Down towards some lakes and I go from hot to freezing. The wind is wicked and there's patchy snow and creek filled trail. None of it to bad but a little slower. No navigation needed so I'm thrilled.

The trail goes down and down, past a reservoir and a dam then back up some fire roads to start the slow climb up to Chalk Pass. Last year when I hiked this part of the Collegiates this is where I took a newer looking trail that ended up coming to a dead stop in a boulder field. It's signing is still a bit ambiguous so I don't press my luck and just head up the road.

Flagging and some Americorp kids make me think it might be done soon, still I'm still glad I stuck to the official trail this time around.

Because one pika is never enough

The climb up Chalk Pass is slow but pretty. My packs lighter without the snowshoes but no feather and I feel off my game. Oh well over the top and down towards Hancock Lake. This is the pass where I stupidly got stuck in a lightning storm last summer. No lightning this time and I head down with purpose. I really liked where I camped last summer and I think it will fit timewise perfectly. Plus this time I'm not shaking with cold and sopping wet. So really, Collegiates take 2. Tomorrow has a whole lot of trail above treeline so I'm hoping the weather cooperates and I can actually hike.

I'm tucked into the same spot I found last summer, happily warm and dry.

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