Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marshall Pass visit

This past weekend I did the work needed to go visit Kasey and Liz on their hike. After letting my drivers license lapse a couple of years ago, I finally got around to taking the road test that I needed to get it back. Many thanks to Holly for picking me up and letting me borrow her car for the test. I then contacted our friend Dawn to borrow her car for the weekend. Many thanks to Dawn for letting me use it all weekend. I knew that they were supposed to be getting a resupply on Marshall Pass sometime this weekend, but their cell service was way too spotty for them to let me know exactly when they actually got there. Thursday is when I finally knew that I'd be able to make the trip up and it turns out that is when they made it up there so they didn't even get my text to them that I was coming. 

Marshall Pass summit
With all the prep work done I headed up after work on Friday. I left work an hour early to make sure I could get up there with some daylight to spare. The final 12 miles of the trip was up a bumpy dirt road and I had no access to Google Maps to make sure I was really headed the right way. Luckily there aren't too many turn offs so it was easy to find. When I made it to the top of the pass there was initially no sign of humans, plenty of cows though. I got out and started hiking up the trail to see if I could find a place to camp. Not far up I saw a cabin across a swamp and then I saw a woman in a skirt. Who else could that be, but my Kasey. I called across and she got all excited to see me. I ran back to the car and found the side road that led to the cabin. Their official resupply was from another friend, Dick, and he had already cooked them dinner and fed them beer, 2 bottles of Chimay and some boxed wine if I recall correctly. I settled in and they warned me of all the cow patties scattered about the camp. It turns out this area is a cow camp and there are many cattle roaming freely about. It wasn't too long before the sun set and we headed to bed.

View from the cabin as the sun set against the hills.
In the morning the girls were ready to get moving again as they had been there since Thursday. I had originally planned to stay at the pass all weekend because I thought they'd be getting there Friday and want to take a day off. That didn't stop me from asking to tag along for their hike on Saturday. I had everything that I needed to camp including a large enough pack to carry my stuff so I packed it all up and joined them hiking in my worn out road racing flats. Lack of proper shoes wasn't as bad as it could have been. Some dirt got in, but because I can slip them off and on very easily emptying them was not a problem and I only had to do it a few times. Getting to hike with Kasey gave me plenty of time to catch her up on happenings at home and I got to hear about many of their adventures from the past few weeks. 
Hiking behind my best gal in an inspiring aspen grove.
The scenery was gorgeous and constantly changing. We had lots of pine forest, but would then open to fields with grand vistas. We also went through a couple of nice aspen groves. We were almost always going either up or down, but most of it was not too steep. There were a couple of places with a steep descent and some of them quite rocky which was the biggest challenge for my shoes. We saw quite a few mountain bikers including one through biker. There were also quite a few motor bikes out, especially towards the end of our day.
A panorama along the way
We finished our planned 11 miles around 3 o'clock at Tank 7 creek. There were some dark clouds rolling in accompanied by some loud thunder as we reached our destination so we got our tent up as quickly as possible. Luckily all we got were a few sprinkles as the storm skirted around us. A couple of other hikers came by a little while later and had to stop to dry out some of their gear as they had caught the brunt of the storm about a mile back on the trail so it must have just missed us.

Our valley home for my one night out.
We had fun hanging our bear bag, although we were more afraid of the marmots and chipmunks than any bears although Kasey did locate some scat that could have been from a bear. We also spent more time than was practical attempting to build a water diversion system on the uphill side of our tent in case it rained. Fortunately it didn't rain because I have my doubts about how well it would have worked. We headed to bead before the sun was down. I was pretty tired and fell right asleep.
Kasey and Liz
In the morning we were up around 6:30 and after a quick breakfast we had camp torn down by 7:00. We said our goodbyes and each departed on our own way. Me back to the car, the girls further south moving ever closer to Durango. I had an uneventful hike back and made pretty good time. She is having fun out there, but has been missing me and I've been missing her so it was good to see her and catch up in person.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Love & support delays

We are moving along the trail very well and meeting tons of people.  It is an amazing journey of struggle and fun all at the same time. 

When we planned this trip, we figured on 10mile days.  Who knew we are way more amazing than that!?  We are currently 2 days ahead.  So, what is one to do?  Take really short days, right?  Well, ... that hasn't worked out right either.

On 9 July, we traversed about 15miles to the base of a big climb for the next day (2500ft in 4.8miles).  The idea was to conquer the horrible climb and descent and keep the day short.  Unfortunately, we ended up conquering the whole trip by 11am.  So, we decided to go a little further.  Then, we missed the unmarked trail for the lake we were planning on sleeping at for the night.  Thus, we plugged on for a total of 12miles for the day.  This mistake put us even closer to our 14 July destination & in the dilemma of figuring out what to do...hot springs for 3 days or a day in Buena vista.  Due to catching a friend we made on our way to Twin Lakes, & his friend taking him to Buena Vista, we found our way in to town.  Those two were easily convinced to hang in town & thus we have a ride back to the trail tomorrow morning, afternoon, or whenever they finally get their drunk butts together to head for the trail.  Still, we have the problem of being early to meet our drop.  I guess we will figure it out & have fun doing so. 
These are the simple pleasures of the trail.  It is an amazing journey.  I am extremely thankful for all the love & support.  The little changes and extra days in towns has been fun and educational.  It is all part of getting to know the state of Colorado!  Thank you! 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

4th of July

So, it has been 3 days and 2 nights on the trail & I am back in Leadville.  This is beginning to feel more like a vacation than a backpacking adventure.  At the same time, we have simply turned out to be better backpackers than anticipated.  We are 2 days ahead of schedule, but reservations & food drops lock us in to shorter days & sticking to the original schedule.  Thus, we are here in Leadville through the 4th. 

It is alright being in towns, but these extended stays are sometimes a little much.  Staying at a hostel can be rewarding and trying.  After being in the woods basically alone for a couple weeks, it is a little bit of a culture shock being surrounded by people from day hikers to tourists to new residents looking for housing to cyclists and beyond.  I just want to find a small little corner to hide from people & have some alone time.

Outside of the weirdness being in a hostel and being faster than anticipated, the trek is going rather well.  I'm amazed how well I am doing after the Marathon on Saturday.  Granted I am slower than before.  Altitude makes it difficult to catch your breath. Then, I also wonder what kind of damage I have done bruising my sternum here in Leadville 4 years ago.  Some days I feel it more than others. 

We are still watching the West Fork Complex fires & it appears as though, today, we have a reroute.  These fires in the southwest of the state have affected segments 21-23 and the east side of segment 24.  There are 28 segments total for the CT, & we are on segment 9; to give perspective on the trek and distance to the major fire in the southwest.  In other words, we have a while until we reach that area.  If you figure 8 segments in 2 weeks, then we have about 3weeks until we hit the fire zone!  Wow!  Looking at it that way makes it seem way closer! 

Anyway, we are in Leadville, CO for the next couple days.  We had hamburgers today, bought beer & real food, talked to the locals, & showered.  It has been a full day already.  I'm hoping tomorrow might be more relaxing; however, we have plans to bike the mineral belt, check out the Two Guns Distillery, sleep in, & possibly visit a museum or 2.  We might also do a walking tour of Leadville.  So, slow relaxing day might be out of it.  Of course, a parade, fireworks, & BBQ for the 4th will push us over the edge. 

Looking forward to the 5th when we head back out to the trail.  Things continue to add up here at the hostel as they kind of nickel & dime us for things like towels for the shower & rides to the trail as well as meals.  The new world is all about how we can all make a buck on everything.  It seems weird but yet a natural pattern of life. 

My thoughts are with family and friends always.  You all help power me through these crazy breaks from the hectic world.  They are much needed and my husband deserves big kudos for supporting me.  You are the wind beneath my wings.