Miles Hiked: 25.6
Total Milage: 614.6
Location: Rio Vallecitos
This morning I woke up to coyotes howling at 5am. It was noticably warm for the morning, so I packed up my things and hit the trail before 6am. I continued hiking through more alpine meadows. It reminded me of the balds in the southern Appalachian mountains. Early on I saw a couple of other hikers including Dusty, Baguette and someone else in the distance I couldn’t identify. When I passed Free Fall and 12 Pack’s tents they were not moving at all. I usually expect those two to be up and moving around 6:30am.
I wish I could have sat around all day and enjoyed the sunshine in the meadow, but I knew that I had to keep moving. There was rain predicted to start around 3pm today and I wanted to hike as far as I could before it started. The trail today was super confusing. Half the time my GPS said I wasn’t on the red line on Guthooks. At one point I just gave up on trying to follow the map at all. Sometimes I shot a bearing and walked in that general direction, other times I just followed foot prints on the ground.
After leaving the gently rolling Meadows, I entered a denser forest of aspens and ponderosa pines. At this higher elevation there was quite a bit of snow and snow melt all over the trail. For about a mile I was post holing and stepping in others foot prints. A couple of times I sank down to my crotch in the snow and had to use my trekking poles to help me take the mammoth step out of it. Honestly without the trekking poles it would be so easy for me to be stuck. It’s really hard to get out of deep post holes.
Over the course of the day the sky continued to get darker and darker until it started to snow a little bit. Eventually that turned to thunder and then a light but cold rain. Around this time I ran into “Roger That” hiking the wrong way. He had gotten lost. And I had gotten lost right before I ran into him. We hiked the rest of the day together. I usually stop and take lots of breaks especially when my feet hurt. Today I only sat down for 20 minutes around mile 10. I was pretty motivated to get to camp as fast as I could. Luckily the challenge distracted me from how bad my feet hurt. I hiked 10 miles before 10am, 15 by noon, and 20 miles by 2pm. I was making GREAT time. At 3:30 pm after an hour of walking in the rain, I made it to my planned destination. The Rio Vallecito. There was a PERFECT stand of very tall pine trees with a sheltered flat spot for me to camp right in the middle. I couldn’t believe it. I set up my tent and crawled in my sleeping bag in dry clothes before 4pm. Although I was cold and in a lot of pain, I was so proud of myself!
I really hoped the rest of my friends would show up because I hadn’t seen them all day. About two hours later they did and they all pitched their tents under the trees right next to me. I was happy we all got to camp together again! It felt like it had been a while since the four of us ended up at the same camp spot. I spend the rest of the night relaxing in my tent, organizing my pack, and enjoying some hot ramen noodles for dinner. Tomorrow it’s predicted to rain a good amount. I’m hoping it is dry for at least an hour in the morning while I pack up my things. I’m not looking forward to it.