Day 56: Colorado Border Round 2!

Miles Hiked: 20.5

Total Milage: 887.1

Location: Wyoming/ Colorado State Border

This morning I woke up around 6am to start getting my things packed up. Ari drove us back to the trail and we got there at 7am. Soars and Flash didn’t come along because Soars stepped on a tent stake last night and it cut deep into his heel. They were staying in town to figure out what to do about his injury. When Ari dropped us off, he hiked up the trail with us for about a mile. He carried 12 packs pack because it is the heaviest. I can tell he really misses thru hiking. It was so great to meet him and amazing that we were able to get a ride back to the trail at the perfect time! I’m sure we would have been in town for hours trying to hitch out.

The trail was completely covered in snow again as I expected. I assume we won’t see very much actual trail between here and our next town, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Even though it was early in the morning, the snow was still soft and we were post holing. It was absolutely exhausting. We had to cross quite a few small rivers that were very full of freezing snow melt. Everytime I had to do it my feet would ache for a few minutes because if how cold it was. Some of the crossings were above my knees and flowing very fast.

About 4 miles and two hours of hiking in, Jenga caught up to us and told us he wanted to bail. We took a break to give him some time to think about what he wanted to do next and come up with a plan. I’m so bummed I won’t be hiking with my friend Jenga for a long time, if ever again on this trail. I know it was a really hard decision for him to make and it broke my heart to see how sad he was. He was struggling the most in the snow of the four of us, and he was definitely not interested in hiking 85 miles straight through the snow. I don’t blame him at all. I’m expecting this week to be one of the physically hardest weeks Ive ever had on a thru hike. I gave Jenga a big hug before we parted ways.

The rest of the day Hummingbird, 12 pack and I stuck together. We will most likely be hiking all day everyday together for this next stretch. There is a lot of snow and it’s not the best idea to head out for this challenging section alone. Not only that, but traveling as a group is very advantageous for many reasons. The three of us all took turns leading the way by cutting footsteps into the snow for others to follow and navigating as a group. Navigating in the snow is really difficult. Luckily the trail was marked with posts about as tall as me which helped us so much today. Even though the trail was marked it was still hard to find the posts because they would blend in with the trees, some were almost covered to the top in large snow drifts, and some were further apart than others. It was still tough but made a lot easier by the posts.

We took a break about every 4-6 miles because of how exhausting all the snow hiking was. We started post holing more and more as the day went on. The snow kept getting softer and softer. I honestly don’t mind it too much when it’s all slush but sliding backwards or sinking every time you take a step is so tiring. About 10 miles into the day we reached our highpoint on the trail and started descending. The snow almost disappeared! I was so happy to see an actual trail for once. The hiking was still difficult because we are starting to climb steep mountains for the first time on this trail and there were lots and lots of blown down trees we had to clamber over which is not easy to do with a heavy pack weighing you down. There were thunderstorms predicted for this afternoon and I was really hoping it wouldn’t happen. The sky got darker around 2pm and stayed that way for the rest of the day. Before the clouds, I was absolutely roasting in the sun. Sweat was dripping off my head, I could smell my sunscreen, and I would guess it to be about 85 degrees while I was slushing through knee – ankle deep snow constantly.

We did a little dirt road walk around one part of the trail to avoid some un necessary elevation gain and a bog. After such a hard day and so many more hard days to come it didn’t care. We might as well take a chance to avoid as much very difficult snow as we can. It’s very likely that whole section of trail was covered in deep snow drifts because it was at a higher elevation. Around 6pm we reached the Colorado Border! The thunder was starting to boom very loudly as we took our pictures. As soon as we found a spot, we wasted no time setting up our tents. As soon as I crawled into mine and got everything inside, the rain started to come down. Luckily it only lasted about an hour. For dinner I made hash browns minus the frying part with some jalapeno cheddar cheese dip. It was very filling and awesome to eat after such an exhausting day. I’m so happy we made such good timing to camp! There were a couple times today where I questioned if we would even be able to make it to the border tonight because we were having to hike so slow. Not only did we make it, but we made it in great time! I’m feeling a lit more optimistic about tomorrow.

For the rest of the night, I relaxed in my tent and spent over two hours writing my blog. I had to catch up on three days of writing! I really hate falling behind but I also love to just fall asleep and not do anything at camp. Either way, I’ll be really glad I wrote about everyday in the end.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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