Day 83: SOS

Miles Hiked: 25.2

Total Milage: 1375.3

Location: East Pole Creek Trail Junction

This morning I woke up at 5am but 12 pack and I didn’t start packing up our things until 6am. My tent and everything in it was soaking wet even though it didn’t rain last night. When I got out of my tent, clouds were rolling through the valley that we slept in which explained the wetness. We started hiking around 6:30am. The day started with a dirt road walk through some beautiful meadows. We saw a northbound CDT hiker named Chimney. He started May 2nd and thinks he is bringing up the back of the pack. It’s really interesting to meet all the new hikers I’d never get to see otherwise! Eventually we could see the San Juan mountains from the meadow and they were drop dead gorgeous. I’m so glad I’m getting to see them in the spring/summer! I got cell service for the first time in a couple of days so I stopped to give Luke a call. I miss him so much and it’s really hard to be away for so long! After that, I was hurrying to try and catch 12 pack. I saw him up on a small ridge so I did some cross country travel to get up there instead of taking the gradual road walk. I found a Carin but no trail up there. Eventually I found another Carin and the trail again but I didn’t see 12 pack in front of me. After a couple miles two people hiking the opposite direction passed me and I asked if they had seen him. They told me they didn’t but thought I was talking about a man with a walking staff who lost all of his stuff up ahead. At this point I knew I was in front of 12 pack.

I decided to keep hiking until I got to the high point just because the sky looked so dark and I wasn’t exactly sure where 12 pack went. As I was walking up to the alpine, a man laying down on the side of the trail under a bush scared the shit out of me. It was the man with a walking staff that the other hikers let me know about. He told me he was too ill to keep hiking and asked if I could call someone to come get him. I asked him a bunch of questions and he was being very weird. I felt like the situation was clearly not an emergency but I felt really bad just leaving him when he asked me to call for help. He told me that he fell asleep away from his tent last night and that when we woke up in the morning all of his stuff was gone. I let him know where the nearest road he could get help was and gave him some of my food even though I barely had enough left for myself. There wasn’t service where we were standing on the trail so I told him I’d keep hiking and make a call for him when I got service. I was alone at this point and felt very uncomfortable so I didn’t want to be around him very much longer. He was acting very strange. When I got service about a quarter mile later, I texted 12 pack to let him know what was going on and called the police department. I gave them as much information as I could. I felt absolutely ridiculous calling but I would feel awful if I didn’t. I thought the man was totally capable of walking himself out. I would never call emergency services in the Backcountry unless I thought a situation was life threatening. I also felt really bad that I didn’t have the time to really help the guy out more but I didn’t think his situation warranted it at all. I didn’t have enough food or water for myself to make it much further at all let alone wait around. Not only that but I was about to be exposed at a high elevation for a really long time and the clouds overhead were not looking good.

While I was on the phone with 911, I saw 12 pack and the guy hiking up the trail together. I was so confused how the guy was even moving when he was acting like he was so ill that he couldn’t walk earlier. I let the man speak to 911 himself on my phone. They let us know that someone was on the way to help him out and that we could leave him. 12 pack and I kept hiking up our biggest climb of the day. We had to go up to 13k feet and then back down and up again several times to get to the Colorado Trail high point. The hiking was absolutely beautiful but very exposed and dangerous if the weather ends up rolling in. I had some service on the climb up so I gave my dad a call. At the top I finally caught 12 pack and we talked about the whole situation that happened with the man at the bottom of the mountain. He thought he was on drugs and gave him his water bottle. 12 pack didn’t have any water left and I had about a half liter so we shared it for the next two miles down to the water source in the valley. When we finally stopped for a break, we had already hiked 18 miles! My feet were hurting so bad. I just wasn’t able to stop because I needed to get to water and I wasn’t about to sit down on the top of an exposed alpine some with a giant dark thunder cloud looming overhead.

At lunch it started to sprinkle a little bit. I put on my rain jacket and pants and hid under a bush while I ate. The small rain cloud ended up passing as we were sitting there and the sky got blue again which was really nice. My leg muscles were so tight, tired, and sore that it was hard to get moving again after lunch. We had a couple more big climbs before getting to camp and I was so exhausted. Somehow I made my legs keep moving. It always surprises me how much more I’m able to do even when I feel at the point of complete exhaustion.

The terrain after lunch was incredibly beautiful. We walked through alpine valleys and by some lakes. The rock formations were incredible and the wildlife was very entertaining. I could hear the sunbathing marmots whistling and the pikas squeaking. 12 pack and I saw a coyote catch a small animal up close and saw a couple deer as well. At the end of the day we took a break at the last water source before the last climb. I really enjoyed today as weird and exhausting as it was. We set up our tents in a beautiful meadow. I was so hungry I ate dinner twice! 12 pack and I hardly have any food for tomorrow at all. I have three protein bars, a protein shake, and some gummies to get me to Stony pass where we will hopefully hitch but most likely walk down to Silverton. My sister will be picking us up tomorrow morning and bringing us to Telluride for the night! Luke will drive us back the next day. I am so excited. I have been so homesick for so long and the last week I’ve hardly been able to sleep because I can’t stop thinking about going home. Silverton is the closest trail town to Telluride. I really regret not taking time off earlier in the trail to go home and hang out for a week. I always feel so stressed about finishing the trail but I know that a visit home will help my morale so much! Most of the time when I think about quitting it’s just because I want to go home so bad, not because I actually want to be done hiking. I think I will always be homesick when I hike long distances. I certainly struggled with it so much on the AT.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird


Published by Deserrae Potts

Thru Hiker Blogger

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