Leadville adventure

We got dropped off by our ride at the Safeway grocery store. After wondering around aimlessly I finally got enough food, sorta. (I’m still having eating issues like on the PCT. I just don’t have a taste for anything while on trail. So basically I’m not getting enough calories and my energy is way low. But only like 800 ish miles to go, I’ll make it, eventually.)

Anyway, we got a ride back to the trail before we even got out of the parking lot. 20 minutes later we’re standing back near the trailhead looking at the looming gray sky. A check of the forecast..thunderstorms, agh. We decided to hitch BACK to Leadville, again!

Ended up getting a ride from two very nice guys. Staying in one of the motels seemed like a good inexpensive option. However, every motel we stopped at was full! There was a mountain bike race going on. That’s when one of the guys said “i have an apartment you girls can stay in, if you want, just lock up when you leave.” Hmmm, ok.

Turns out his friend lived in the main house and we got the entire downstairs apartment to ourselves! The friend came down with beer and regaled us with some interesting stories. Conveniently he had a friend that worked at the liquor store! We stayed for two days, I was glad not to be out in the rain. Kelsey wants to go back for the donkey races in a week! Ah, geez.

Escaping the Leadville vortex I am egar to finish these last miles out of Colorado. Not sure how I’m gonna get back to Idaho yet. But hey, things tend to work out as they should.

Salida social time

Well I made it to Salida by getting a great hitch from a girl named Chelsea. I had been watching cars pass for about 40 minutes before she stopped. Chelsea is from Gunnison and was headed into Salida to meet some old friends.

I hadn’t run into Kelsey on trail and couldn’t figure out how I could have passed her. So I was hopping to find her in town. I ended up at the Simple Lodge hostel. Great hostel in a great location, only blocks from the Arkansas River. The hostel was full of hikers on the Colorado Trail, it was fun talking and hanging out with them. Reminded me of being on the PCT.


I met Blaze (from La Jolla) and Michelle (from Pennsylvania) we all went out to celebrate Tequila Day and watched people body surf in the river. Salida is cute little town, with its own town deer! Yep, actually there is about 3 that just hanging out in town.

When Kelsey didn’t show I resupplied and hopped a shuttle with Blaze and Michelle back to the trail head. They headed south on the CT and I headed north on the CDT.

I passed about 20 CT hikers that day all headed southbound. Just me hiking solo northbound. I have to say I do enjoy hiking solo, there is a different feeling when you are are alone. There is a sense of freedom, independence and self reliance. I also hike differently when solo, my own pace.

I hiked two whole days by myself and enjoyed it. (I do miss having someone else in camp at night though, and I suck at selfies) I hiked out that morning and got surprised by a moose!! I took a picture and watched him standing in water for a bit before heading up the climb to the pass. At the top of the pass guess who comes up behind me? Kelsey! She had taken the alternate route. We exchanged stories of the last days as we hiked into Twin Lakes.


Twin Lakes was not so great. Very small and the store did not have a good resupply. After getting kicked out of the restaurant/inn, yeah that happened. We decided to hitch into Leadville, as I had heard it was a hiker friendly fun adventure. We got a ride quickly and planned on getting supplies and getting right back on trail…..but Leadville.

Nothing without Providence

Nothing without Providence -the Colorado state motto…..

Colorado started out beautifully, but into each life some rain must fall. The clouds gathered, then there was hail and rain. Not a warm rain, oh no, a very chilly rain. There is no guessing when it will start between 12 and 4pm, maybe, but pretty much everyday. So you either hike in it, put the tent up and wait it out, or huddle under a pine tree, shivering, wrapped in your rain fly. (That rain fly is surprisingly warm, btw)

There was still some spotty snow to traverse, but mostly I just got wet feet. Still managed to get “lost”(i.e. get way off trail). Someday I’ll learn to consult GPS map first instead of going off all Willy nilly. Ended up exhausting myself climbing up to the wrong pass, then down to the valley and up again to the correct pass. I seriously had to almost crawl to camp. I laid in my tent with back spasms, staring at a rainbow in the distance, maybe I’m too old for this.

Lately I’ve found myself mesmerized by the scenery. The wild flowers, the streams, the elk herds..I just want to sit and take it all in, but I have to hike. A little voice tries to remind me ‘enjoy this, this moment, this day’. I push on, to all the things ahead Montana, other hikers, Canada. Well life has a way of slowing you down.

After a quick stop in town, food, charge batteries we raced a storm to camp. It rained most of the night, I awoke happy to hear it had stopped. Grabbed my phone to check the time….and the screen was black! Well partially black but enough to make me panic.

My phone is my everything, clock, camera, phone, gps/map, computer and connection to the world! Omg! Everything is on there notes, blog posts, numbers, passwords…crap. Nearest Verizon store 40 miles away (btw they will not help you unless you come there). I want to scream, cry, throw a tantrum. Is this how this trail ends? I can’t go out into the woods without GPS and no maps. I can’t afford a new phone! Crap are my pictures backed up? Panic, panic, panic, breathe.

Sidenote: yes I know I should not depend solely on electronics and should have papers maps. I typically do, but the paper maps I ordered, well, agh…long story I’ll explain later. 

Just waiting on a friend

I was super excited to see Tom (aka Toasted Toad)! He’s a trail friend from the PCT.

 


We met up at the Ole Faithful Village, can’t believe we found each other in that mess of people. He loaded us up with Mountain House meals and then set us up with lunch. He was hiking the CDT but had to get off due to an injury. He was out camping and helping hikers.

We also ran into Samson again and met Mary and Rodger from St Cloud, MN!
Tom offered us a ride but we declined, staying to see the geyser and hike out. (Hmmm) Call if you need anything Tom says, thanks we say.

Long story short we hiked out into a mosquito attack of epic proportions. We were practically jogging down trail chased by swarms, after hiking through a swampy area. Kelsey had so many bites she looked she had chicken pox, she might have zika. We had but one option, ok we had others but….we called Toasted Toad to come save us. That man is saint, do you know he drove like an hour to come get us then drove us ALL the way to Bozeman!

We stayed in Bozeman it was a great zero day. Catching up with an old friend and making ones, loading up on deet!

(PSA: if anybody ever asks you to play Sing-O, just walk away). Toasted Toad, bless his heart, took us ALL the way back to the trail. Thanks again…..hope to see ya, on trail, in Colorado!

 


After being dropped off we hiked right into a snow storm…yep summer on the CDT!

See thrilling video here!

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan S.

Road walked it right on into Tetons NP. Not a fan of road walks, that pavement is a killer on the balls of my feet. But wow the view was breathtaking and the mosquitoes had us picking up the pace.

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Ran into Samson on the road also after Togotee Pass. (I met Samson back on the PCT in Etna! He’s fun guy to hike with, he’s from Mississippi) We all headed into the park via the gate since the trail was closed due to bear management. Kelsey and I opted to hitch into a designated hiker campsite. There was a ridiculous amount of people, kinda over whelming (but there were bear boxes, so yeah). We high tailed it out of there early and ran into….Samson. He kindly got us breakfast then we hitched 27 miles into Yellowstone for our backcountry permits. (Man if the trail was open it would have been only 6 miles and we wouldn’t have had to pay to get in).


Grabbed our permit and headed out after lunch. There was about 10 miles to our campsite. Samson was out front warning the bears with his harmonica, then me and Kelsey behind yelling “bear aware” every now and then. We made great time with Samson leading, that dude is long leg fast.

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I was mad sweating when we got to camp. But no time to lollygag, the mosquitoes attacked as soon as we stopped moving. Agh!!


The next morning Samson took off early and we weren’t to far behind. We had 15 miles to Old Faithful where we were meeting Toasted Toad, my hiker buddy from the PCT!!

Help me Floyd….

Well, I was feeling pretty good when I left the wind River motel in Dubois, our second favorite motel after the Y motel in Chama. My resupply for Macks Inn, Idaho was mailed and I was off to catch a hitch back to the trail. Got a lift pretty quick from a nice local couple. They had a small well mannered child in a car seat in the back. Seriously 2 strangers hopped in the car and that kid was quieter than a church mouse, NOT a peep. They were super nice warned us of the bears and took us all the way to the unmarked trail head.

It was a nice morning climb up to a dirt road, where we passed some guys on dirt bikes trying to get around a rock slide. From there we hiked down to Brooks Lake campground. Lovely place with cabins, a lodge, horses and a great view of the lake and bluffs. The campground was not open tent camping due to bear activity. Hmmmm


After another 7 miles we came to what I easily call a raging river! Playing the walk downstream then upstream game we couldn’t find a place to cross. This sucks because you can see the trail, right there on the other side. So close but yet so far. Since it was late afternoon and there was some pre hung bear rope; we decided to camp. Hoping the water would be lower in the morning.

I have to say I was not keen on where we camped near the river and thicket, i.e. bear playground. We now a have a bear aware code word: Floyd. If either of us sees a bear (or needs some help) we yell Floyd !! Its a running joke. If you watched Amazing Race this season you know Floyd. Floyd you were robbed dude.

Anywho, after a super cold night. For real my shoes were frozen in the morning! This weather is ridiculous, come on its June already. As much as we wanted to rise and shine, we didn’t move til the sun hit our tents. Sadly, even after putting on my neoprene socks, crossing that river was not an option. It was still pretty high. Even if we risked it there was another stream it converged with 4 miles later that we’d have to cross.

Although we hated to, it was plan B time. RETREAT. Yep hike back and road walk it.

BUT WAIT……so while I was sitting in my tent, waitin for my shoes to thaw that morrning I saw something……

MOOSE!!

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I have been wanting to see one for awhile. He just strolled past camp, stopped then mosyed right on by!! Silver linings.

High Water…..

Our next section through Bridger Teton National Forest is brought to you by water and mosquitoes. It was a record snow year all along the trail this year. So record snow means high melting run off creating raging high rivers and standing water creates a bjillion mosquitoes.

The mosquitoes have been eating us alive. I thought when we got back in the snow at 10,000′ there would be none, or less. Nope. Those little buggers are relentless. We stopped for one break and had to put up our tents just for a moment to eat and rest.

The raging rivers are a whole other story.

At one crossing the water more than waist deep. We went up stream about 1.5 miles just to find a safe place to cross and it was still thigh high. Then we had to bushwack back to the trail. About 5 miles later we had yet another crossing with the river trifecta…wide, deep, and fast current. In the picture that pole is a trail sign, under water. This crossing was pretty scary as it was so fast and wide. We spent almost an hour looking for a safe place to cross. It would not be the last crossing.

We hiked faster the rest of the day. It was great to actual get back to a point where we could pull out 20 miles. While the snow is still around it is melting so really it’s just wet and super muddy. The bear prints left in the mud reminded us we are in grizzly bear country. I’m not a fan. Now I am hanging my food in trees and it can be frustrating just getting it up there. Of course once I get it up there I want something out of it! We hiked to one campsite because it was supposed to have a bearbox…..unfortunately it was buried under a bunch of snow.


On the way into Dubois the views of the Tetons are amazing. I even took part in hike naked day, tastefully of course. I was glad I did it early, because even though we haven’t seen ANYONE since we left town, all of a sudden 5 cyclist on the Tour Divide came racing by!


When we hit the road it took awhile to get a hitch. A girl we passed hiking down the mountain, Emily gave us a lift into town. She was out picking mushrooms!

Hanging out in Dubois now resupplying and sending supplies ahead. Headed for Yellowstone next!

Wyoming mountains

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Left Pinedale feeling optimistic, and we got lucky, scored two hitches right away! A nice couple from Utah and then got picked up by Jeff. Jeff had a whole 3 truck caravan, ready for some serious camping. They had a canvas tent, chairs, a chainsaw and potato chips! Once, Jeff told us he spent a winter in the Wyoming back-country living in a tee-pee, that’s hardcore. He pointed out things of interest  on the drive and asked if we had bear spray.
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So yes I caved and got bear spray after numerous warnings. Since this trail has western theme, I hooked it to my side belt. I feel like a gunslinger!

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We camped that evening at Green River campground, nobody there but us, but it had bear boxes and neither of us was to eager to start hanging our food.

Next day we happily crossed Green River, on a Bridge! There was a 2000′ climb shortly there after up to Gunsight Pass. The climb was super tough as we were attacked by mosquitos all the way! We were rewarded with snow on the north side of the mountain.
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This is about where things took a turn for me. I couldn’t stay on my feet, slipping on the snow and mud, plus our first waist deep river crossing. Whenever we cross a stream/river I let Kelsey go first, duh, she’s a lifeguard. If the water is too deep or the current too strong for her I ain’t going. I often worry she’ll power across and I will be left there scared stiff. Fording rivers scares the crap outta me.

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Later I miss judged a slippery rock crossing a creek and went down hard. Half my pack went in the water, managed to save my phone, but busted my knee on a rock. Camped early due to my knee and wet clothes. It was pretty comical us hanging our bear bags, that evening, (pretty much us pitching rocks at each other) it distracted me from my bloody knee.

Wyoming…..it’s all good

If my last post sounded a bit dire. I was in mood for sure. I usually try to stay upbeat and keep my down moments for my personal journal. Honestly though everything isn’t always wildlife and butterflies out here.

The tough times are hard to share, who whips out a camera when things bad, not me. (Well you might have enjoyed seeing us crawl in the snow when we couldn’t walk!!)

Actually the stress was mostly from being off trail. The four day stretch to get from New Mexico to Wyoming was intense. Hitchhiking can be fun, unless you have a bus to catch. Taking the bus is never fun, especially when it overheats and you might miss you connection. Then our 12am bus was packed, so of course an hour from our stop a tire blows.

Finally we are back on trail and I am feeling much better. Wyoming is flat but beautiful. Leaving Rawlins we continued our jail tour! On our road walk out of town the wind blew my hat off and across the highway. As I ran for it a motorcyclist pulled over to see if I was ok and offered me a ride. Man I wanted to take it as a hitch on a motorcycle is on my to do list. But I passed, not going my way. Thanks for stopping!

Wyoming State Penitentiary         Ticks!
There are A LOT of ticks in this section. So I am wearing long pants even in the heat of the day and in tick paranoid mode. Water is scarce, I think I need a class on operating solar powered spring, not a single one has worked.

 


But I’m hiking…..so life is good. Thanks everyone for the kind words, support and encouragement.

Through it….

Leaving town is always a mental struggle. I’ve showered, done laundry, filled my belly, sorted my gear, and resupplied. Now it’s time go out there and be beaten down by the trail all over again. This morning I woke emotionally drained, just wanting to stay in bed and cry. But that’s not an option.

I got some personal things dragging me down. Coupled with the unknown of what lays ahead. This trail is so much tougher than the last two. Sometimes I feel I’m not even in control, and the littlest issues be come huge. I’m not one to let stresses get me down. You know smile on the outside even when falling to pieces inside. Thing is out here there are no distractions. It’s  just you and all the things in your head.

So I’m sucking it up today, leaving Rawlins heading for who knows what. Maybe I’ll find some peace and clarity, or not. But it’s a thru hike…..gotta go through it.

rawlins