Day 89: Pagosa Springs

Miles Hiked: Zero

Total Milage: 1470.7

Location: Pagosa Springs

This morning I woke up at 6am feeling amazing because I slept for the first time in over a week I believe! The first thing I did was try and get some phone calls out of the way. I haven’t been able to call anyone in so long because I haven’t had service and it’s been two weeks since I have had a full day off with time to call anyone. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to catch up with people after not being in service for so long and it can take up a lot of my town time that seems to fly by so fast every time. I got to talk to my best friend from college, my friend Pop Rocks, and Luke! For a late breakfast, Julie and Revolt took us all out to Colorado Cafe. I was so happy to be eating my favorite meal of the day in a town with my favorite people! They drove us all over town after to help us run errands including to Walmart and a store that carries my favorite brand of sunglasses so I could replace the ones I broke a few days ago. I was so thankful for the rides around town.

Afterwards, we went back to their house and relaxed for the rest of the day which is exactly what I needed. I ended up taking a nap and just hanging out with everyone for the rest of the night. I ate as much food as I possibly could and it was great. For dinner Revolt made us some burgers and Julie made a delicious salad. The perfect dinner! I love being able to eat homemade food when I’m in town because eating out can get old after a while. I really appreciated it SO MUCH. Before bed I took a bath in their giant bathtub. I realized my feet hurt way worse than I expected but I’m sure the zero day will do them a lot of good. I am incredibly thankful for the day of rest at Julie and Revolts house and that I got to spend time hanging out with them! I plan to go back this winter and hopefully ski with Revolt!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 87: Butter Knife Edge

Miles Hiked: 21

Total Milage: 1449.6

Location: San Juan Mountains

This morning I started to get ready around 5:15am. I did not sleep last night AGAIN. I am feeling so exhausted from all this not sleeping. I left camp before 12 pack. I was happy to hike by myself for a little bit this morning and take my time. For breakfast I drank a protein shake that I put 24 g of protein in, carnation breakfast, collagen, and a packet of chai tea to give it some spice. This is my normal breakfast for this trail. It’s an easy way to get in calories fast in the morning when I don’t want to take time to eat anything. At the top of the first climb, I knew I would get some cell service so I took the time to make an Instagram post and send some texts. If it wasn’t so early I’d give someone a call. 12 pack caught up to me here and we pretty much hiked the rest of the day together. There was a waypoint on the map marked “knife edge” and it made me so nervous. I definitely do not like very sketchy hiking and the words “knife edge” give me visions of horribly exposed hiking with drop offs on both sides of me. Lucky for me, I thought the waypoint was poorly described and there was no snow on the trail! Other hikers comments made it sound extremely dangerous. It ended up just being a contour around a bowl with very steep walls, a narrow trail, and a drop off on one side but not both. The part where there could potentially be a drop off on both sides was a very wide and flat trail with enough room to make me feel comfortable. I made a hairpin turn and contoured around the other side of the mountain. I was so relieved! 12 pack was in front of me and I saw a deer practically jump off a cliff between us and run above him on the extremely steep slope. I yelled at him to look at the deer so he could pay attention to possible rock fall if it ran above him. It didn’t and all was fine. When we took a break for lunch 12 pack didn’t even realize that we already did the Knife Edge. I thought it was funny that it was that anticlimactic.

After lunch, we walked along the coolest ridge. There were hardly any trees on top and the views were amazing. Eventually we descended into some trees and I was very glad because the once clear blue sky was filled with clouds that were getting increasingly dark and thundering louder and louder. When it finally looked bad enough, 12 pack and I set our tents up in perfect timing for it to start raining. The thunder boomed and I was so happy to be curled up in my sleeping bag trying to get any sort of sleep. After 2 hours the storm had passed, the sky was blue again and we were hiking on! We only had about 8 more miles to camp.

I hiked pretty slow the rest of the day and took my time. My left knee has been hurting pretty badly. Yesterday I took a bad fall and banged it up and bent it very hard. This morning I took another bad fall where I landed directly on my knee cap and broke my sunglasses when my face softly hit the ground. I’m really hoping I just bruised it very badly. It’s the knee I had surgery on last spring. The views got even better and I stopped to take so many pictures. As I got closer to camp the sky started to get dark and stormy looking again. I ran into 12 pack at a water source and he let me know that it was the last water before our best camping option. I filled up before we hiked down to a meadow and set up our tents as it started to rain again.

It rained for quite a while this evening but I didn’t mind because I made it in to my tent before I started. I made some mashed potatoes for dinner and looked through all my pictures. When the rain finally let up around sun set I got out of my tent and walked around. I got some great pictures of the sunset and I was able to talk to Luke for a tiny bit because I found a little bit of cell service on a hill! It was great to hear his voice.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 86: Lightning Strikes

Miles Hiked: 19.6

Total Milage: 428.6

Location: San Juan National Forest

This morning I “woke up” at 6am. At this point I can’t even remember the last night I have actually had sleep. I think around 5am I finally drifted off but I had to get hiking. I can’t wait to get to town. I plan on getting incredibly stoned with some edibles that are specifically for making you fall asleep and hopefully falling asleep for 10 hours. Not sleeping when you hike 20+ miles everyday feels awful. Up until a week ago? Maybe longer, I had been sleeping great because I was using edibles to help knock me out every night but I have a feeling my tolerance is really high right now and I need to take a break. Usually I’m garanteed insomnia for a couple days when I quit using weed, I just haven’t been willing to take a risk of not sleeping on this trail when I know that edibles can get me to go to sleep pretty well. I think I’m going to look for a sleep aid for the first time when I get to town and use it while I take a long break from using weed to sleep. I’ve always had sleep issues since I was a kid but I’ve never seen a doctor for it. When I discovered that weed helps me get the best sleep ever and I actually started getting regular amounts of sleep, my life changed for the better. I can tell a very big difference in my physical performance capabilities now that I have been able to get a normal amount of sleep for a while. Since I feel like I haven’t had a REM cycle in over a week I’ve started to feel pretty crappy and fatigued everyday.

Around 6:30 I started hiking with 12 pack right behind me. We went up a pass and when we got to the top, I decided to try an alternative route called “The Window” basically instead of going down the other side of the pass, I had to cross country contour around this peak on a bunch of scree to get to “The Window” where I could go down the other side and connect back up with CDT. It does add miles but I saw the window from far away yesterday and it looked so cool! The scree was very loose and sliding everywhere. I kept reminding myself of something my friend Julia told me when we were doing some sketchy hiking before. “Remember, the rocks don’t have to hold you forever, only for a second at a time, long enough to put your other foot down before slipping”. When we rounded the corner and I could finally see the window up close, there was an unexpected snow chute that could be a cornice between me and the window. I decided to turn around and go backwards to the pass and take the actual trail. 12 pack followed me. When we got down the pass and to the other side of the mountain I could see the window from the other view. There was an actual trail up to it from this side! If I would have known I might have tried to just do an out and back to it.

12 pack and I had a long descent from the top of the pass down to a meadow. I stopped to take lots of flower pictures along the way. We had to walk through lots of overgrown bushes that were taller than me. I was quite literally walking in a green tunnel. There were a lot of blown down trees today. I had to climb over, under, and all around them. When we got down to the meadow, 12 pack and I took a lunch break before starting the biggest climb of the day.

I put on some music and started the big climb. The sky was pure blue when we were down in the meadow but now clouds were accumulating out of nowhere very fast. I hiked up the climb as fast as I could and I felt really strong doing it which was great. I dropped down to a saddle and waited for 12 pack to catch up to me. I could tell he was moving quite a bit slower than normal today and I thought the clouds looked particularly bad. Normally I wouldn’t take a break to wait out a storm but I considered it. I just had a feeling that these tunderheads would actually bring the rain and possibly lightning. One thing that cued me in a little bit is that I saw a massive herd of elk all laying down in the valley. I felt like they wouldn’t do that unless they knew a bad storm was coming. When we caught up, we decided to just keep hiking since it wasn’t actively storming yet. If we could just get over the last of the climb before it did we could drop down towards camp on the other side. It was long before my feeling about the storm being particularly bad came to be true. I saw a flash of lightning about 10 yards to my left and there was a very loud crack and boom. It scared me to death. 12 pack and I turned around and started running down the mountain together. We were heading towards the right side of the ridge since I knew that if things got really crazy we could bail off and hike a low route there. All of a sudden there was another flash of lightning in front of us exactly where I was running to. We changed directions and started bailing off the left side of the ridge.

When we got to a flat spot in a meadow we pitched our tents to wait out the storm. The sky kept getting worse and the thunder boomed more frequently. Now it looked like the storm was surrounding us in all directions. I decided to blow up my sleeping pad and get in my sleeping bag after it was clear that that storm was going to be a while. I ended up getting to close my eyes for about an hour which was really nice. When the storm finally let up after almost 2 hours, 12 pack and packed up camp and kept hiking. The sky was still grey and it was slightly rainy but there was no thunder and lightning!

We climbed up to an awesome ridge that we got to descend along into a very pretty valley with lots of lakes. At 5pm we reached a flat spot in a valley and I was feeling extra tired. We set up camp a little earlier than usual (milage wise) but from here the trail gains a lot of elevation which means less of a chance for a good camp spot. It’s nice to have a shorter day of hiking for once! I made some mashed potatoes and carnation breakfast for dinner and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 85: July 4th

Miles Hiked: 21.5

Total Milage: 1409

I hardly slept at all last night. My alarm went off at 5:30 and I didn’t want to get out of bed. I woke Luke and 12 pack up and we left Telluride around 6am. Luke drove us the two hours to Silverton to drop us off at the bottom of Stony Pass. I was so sad and was trying not to cry the entire car ride. I didn’t want to leave Luke at all. The goodbye was really hard and I cried. 12 pack and I stood at the bottom of Stony Pass from 8:30-9:15am trying to get a ride to the top. If we couldn’t get a ride we would have to hike five miles back up the extremely steep and rocky road and none of it would be forward progress to complete the CDT. A very nice couple named Addie and Mark picked us up in a side by side razer they rented for the 4th of July. I was SO THANKFUL. We made it to the top of the pass in about 30 minutes instead of over three hours. They were out with their family from Parachute Colorado and we got to meet them all and explain what we were doing this summer. It’s always fun to introduce people to the crazy world of thru hiking for the first time.

12 pack and I started hiking down the trail at about 10am. I cried for the first five miles. I was just so sad about leaving home. It was honestly just a really rough day for me. All day I thought about how much I’d rather be at home with Luke and my sister taking a break for a day.

The terrain today was challenging but I feel so much stronger after last week. We walked up and down quite a few passes and by many alpine lakes. We took a break 10 miles in to the day and then hiked the last 11 miles to camp without stopping. Since we got a late start, we got to camp at about 7pm. I was so exhausted. We have to hike about 20 miles everyday to make it to Pagosa in 4 days where we will be taking a zero day.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 84: Stony Pass

Miles Hiked: 12.2

Total Milage: 1387.5

Location: Telluride, Colorado

This morning 12 pack and I woke up at 5am and started hiking by 5:30. My tent was incredibly wet again even though we had no rain. Packing up a wet tent in the cold is my least favorite camp chore. We were eager to get to town today because neither of us have much food at all. Ive been so homesick and anxious to get home I think it’s been playing a role in why I have hardly slept at all for over a week now. We had to hike about 7 miles to Stony Pass and then walk 5 miles down the mountain to get to a place to hitch to town. If we were lucky someone might pick us up on the way down Stony Pass.

The morning light was absolutely beautiful when it hit the mountains. I could not get over how pretty everything looked today! Our climbs were not bad at all but my legs were very sore so they still hurt. I hiked in my puffy jacket and hoodie dress for quite a while because it so cold. When we got to Stony Pass it was close to 8am. We saw a couple of cars but they were all going the wrong way. We read an information sign that said Stony pass was a transportation route for goods from Santa Fe to the other side of the mountains. I can’t believe the things people used to haul up the mountains on horse back. The walk down from Stony pass was extremely steep and pretty rocky. I really hope someone will give us a ride to the top tomorrow!

When we got to the bottom of Stony pass, we came out at a dirt road intersection. Neither 12 pack nor I had a map downloaded for the area we were at about 5 miles from the trail. We decided to wait at the intersection and flag down the first car that drove by to ask for directions. The first vehicle was a guy in a Razer with three empty seats. He gave us directions to Silverton. I asked him if he was going that way and if we could possibly get a ride. He said yes but he had to go the other direction first because he was looking for his daughters retainer they lost while out riding yesterday. 12 pack offered to go help him look for it since an extra set of eyes will always help. We ended up driving to a couple spots they were at yesterday and looking around. We didn’t find it but on the way back towards silverton a family flagged us down because they had found the retainer! After this we went straight to Silverton. The razer ride was very fun and I was very thankful someone was able to help us get to town! This past stretch was probably the most exhausting stretch of trail I’ve had so far and I was practically out of food!

When we got to Silverton, my sister Emma met us to pick us up and take us to Telluride. I have been incredibly homesick ever since I entered the state of Colorado. The closer we got to Telluride the more I just kept thinking about going home. I can only be in town for one night since 12 pack doesn’t want to take a zero there and I’m pretty upset about it. I considered doing the next section alone but I really don’t want to since I think we will be doing some sketchy stuff. I was kinda sad that we were getting to Telluride a lot later than I thought we would, bit regardless it was good to be home. I got to see Luke for about two hours before he had to go to work.

I made some frozen pizza, did laundry, took a shower, and then 12 pack and I went to resupply. After all this, we all went out to dinner at Allreds which is the restaurant that Luke manages. He treated us to dinner which was very sweet of him. It’s an extremely nice place! I bored some clothes from my sister and her roommate to dress up for the night. Afterwards we went to the bar at the restaurant I used to work at. I had a couple drinks and snacks while catching up with some friends! I ended up leaving the bar earlier than everyone else and taking the bus home for the night. Since we are leaving early in the morning I need to get my pack put together. I really just needed some time to relax and recover alone for a little bit. I talked to my parents and took a bath while I waited for Luke to get home from work. We ended up hanging out for a while when he got home which was great! I was just really tired and didn’t have enough time to sleep. I really wish we were taking a zero here because I feel so tired.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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

Day 82: Snow Mesa

Miles Hiked: 22.8

Total Milage: 1350.1

Location: Spring Creek Pass

This morning 12 pack woke me up around 6:30am. It’s pretty unusual for me to be the last one up. I was feeling incredibly exhausted and did not want to move. I fell asleep and woke back up again at 7am. It stopped raining and the sun was shining on our tents. I got to dry some things out while I packed up my stuff. Even though most of my stuff was still wet, it was nice that the sun was shining! We left camp around 7:30am. Our first 4 miles of the day was a 1.4k uphill climb to the top of a pass. When we were climbing I felt absolutely exhausted. My stomach was growling the whole time because I didn’t have much to eat for breakfast. At the top of the pass, 12 pack and I stopped to enjoy the sunshine and eat as much food as we could. Both of us have been incredibly hungry all the time lately. It feels like it doesn’t matter how much we eat, it’s never enough. It was so nice to relax for a little bit 4 miles in to the day. We usually don’t take the day this slow but we were both feeling really exhausted so it was nice. 12 pack didn’t think that it would rain at all today hopefully. The blue sky seemed to only last about 6 miles in to the day before the clouds started to appear, turn dark, and grumble.

After eating breakfast on the first pass, we dropped down a bit before climbing a second one. At the top of the second pass the weather started to look threatening. We dropped down in elevation again before climbing a really steep pass that would be our high point for the day. I was a little nervous the whole time we were climbing the pass because the sky looked dark. I’d normally take it a lot slower and stop to catch my breath, but when the sky looks bad and freaks me out, I usually don’t stop much at all and breath super hard the whole way up. The top of the third pass was so exhausting. The view from the top was definitely worth it, after this 12 pack and I decided to go over one more small pass before stopping for a lunch break. We knew that we would be exposed for a long time after lunch and we were both so dead tired. At lunch, we sat under some dead trees on a saddle. The sun was out for a little bit. I just relaxed as much as I could. My back was feeling very fatigued today which is how I know my body has really taken a beating.

As soon as we left our lunch spot, it started to rain. Of course! 12 pack and I were exposed for the rest of the day after this. We contoured around a tall peak along a boulder field before reaching some high alpine meadows. I passed a hiker heading the opposite way. As soon as 12 pack saw his face he yelled with excitement! It was “Goose” a guy he hiked with on the PCT. It’s funny to run in to people you hiked a long trail with on a different long trail! We stopped and chatted with Goose for a while. During this time the sky in the direction 12 pack and I were hiking just kept looking worse and worse. I was getting really anxious for the conversation to finish up so I could hurry up and get this hiking over with before a storm broke out and I had no where to go.

I put on my rain pants and jacket before saying goodbye to Goose. About 10 minutes later it started to rain a lot and then hail. I kept climbing up to the high point even though the clouds were making some awful sounds. Right at the high point, I passed two more hikers going the opposite direction. It made me feel a little better that 12 pack and I were not the only people up in the alpine during a threatening storm. As I descended from the high point the thunder booms got louder and kept scaring me a lot! I didn’t see any lightning so I just kept going. Even if I did see lightning there wasn’t really anywhere to go besides dropping straight down a boulder field where I would still be exposed. Eventually I walked out of the rain and storm and on to a sunny mesa. I was happy to be in the sun, but a little freaked out that now I was on top of a very flat mesa with absolutely no trees or anywhere to run for cover if needed. Essentially a wide open field at 12k feet. I checked Guthook and I had to go 4 miles across the field before descending to the road. I assumed there would be trees after I descended from the Mesa. I really wanted to stop and take a break but I knew we didn’t have time. Although I was in the sun, the clouds surrounding us were not looking any better. The sky kept thundering and it was making me very annoyed and anxious. I was thinking about how much adrenaline I must be using lately and how it probably plays a role in why I’ve been extremely exhausted after some of these races against the weather! About a mile before we started to descend, 12 pack started to see flashes of lightning on the ridge next to us. I started to run. Snow Mesa is probably one of the worst places to be caught in a bad storm. 12 pack and I got lucky. We made it all the way to the road without getting rained on! Once I was in the trees I felt so much better. When I turned around and looked at the Mesa we just came from the sky was almost black.

At the trailhead, we got some water and set up our tents before we got caught in the rain. It was 5pm when we got to the road. This means we still managed to wake up late, do more climbing than we have in a couple of days, hike 22 miles and still make it to camp early! I was happy. After sleeping in this morning I assumed I wouldn’t make it to camp until 7pm if I was lucky. The terrain today was very hard. The sun ended up coming out and staying out for long enough for me to dry things at camp. I couldn’t believe we Still didn’t get rained on by 8pm! I was so exhausted I didn’t feel like cooking dinner but I knew I needed to eat way more than I felt like. Eventually I made some mashed potatoes and ate some of my snacks. I could have easily fallen asleep by 6pm without doing any of my camp chores including eating. That would be bad! Anyways I did end up making it til about 9pm before falling asleep totally exhausted! I just walked 100 miles in 4 days through the mountains!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 81: Cochetopa Creek

Miles Hiked: 25.3

Total Milage: 1327.3

Location: Cochetopa Creek

This morning 12 pack and I woke up at 5am. For once, I woke up and my tent was dry! I felt like I didn’t sleep well last night or the night before and I really didn’t want to start hiking. We ended up being on trail around 5:45am. About one miles in to the day, we saw a car up ahead. 12 pack and I always make jokes about getting trail magic. This morning 12 pack said “can you imagine if they had hot coffee just waiting there for us?”. When we got closer to the car, two people were about and moving. When they saw us, they said “We are just getting started on making the coffee, come on over!” I couldn’t believe my ears. We walked over to the vehicles and met the owners of the nice gesture. Patches and Craig hiked the Colorado Trail last year and decided to come do trail magic here because they knew it was a tough spot to get water. I was so freaking happy. While they made some coffee they let us get some clean water, get rid of our trash, set up chairs, and offered us snacks including candy bars, chips, soda, doughnuts, and fresh fruit! I ended up eating a doughnut, a butterfinger, and a banana. After they made the coffee and Orange juice they started to hear up some breakfast burritos! I was anxious to get miles in since I woke up so early but I will never pass up a chance to enjoy some trail magic on the CDT. This is the 3rd time in 1300 miles that someone has exclusively gone out of their way to spend a whole day feeding and hanging out with hikers!The burritos we had were the small ones you can buy in a 12 pack at Walmart but they tasted AMAZING on the trail. They ended up giving me a burrito and a Mountain Dew to go!

We hiked away from the trail magic around 7am. We walked on a road for about 18 miles today! I could not believe it. I haven’t had a road walk this long in the whole state of Colorado! I honestly enjoyed it so much. The grade was so gradual and I felt so relaxed. I haven’t had a day this easy and calm in such a long time! Some of the dirt road went through Aspen trees which were very pretty. I stopped to take pictures of the wildflowers all day. 12 pack and I stopped for lunch around noon. I ate my second breakfast burrito and mountain dew and it was great. 12 pack lost his burrito somewhere on the road walk and it was really sad. He didn’t noticed until he say down for lunch. Right before lunch I found a mini license plate on the ground! I was so excited, I think I’ll end up carrying it to Canada!

After lunch, we eventually hit a trail again. We passed a NOBO CDT hiker named Strider. I think he is most likely the last one we will see. There was a couple fly fishing on the river that the trail walks along side, 12 pack and I stopped to watch them for a little bit before continuing to the eddysville trailhead. The trail ascended very gradually up a valley following the river the whole time. The closer we got to Eddysville the worse the thunderheads in the sky looked and sounded. It started raining right as we hit the parking lot. 12 pack and I hung out in the extremely clean pit toilet waiting for the rain to pass. Two CT hikers named Steve and Amanda caught up to us there and we talked to them for a little bit while waiting for the rain to go away. After about 30 minutes it stopped and 12 pack and I decided to keep hiking another 4 miles to camp. On the way to camp, it rained on us a lot. I was just glad we started to move again before we got soaked so at least I was warm while I was walking. When we set up camp it was still raining but I was so glad to be down for the day. It was just after 5pm.

For dinner I made some mashed potatoes and a hot chai tea latte. I fell asleep very quickly around 8pm.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 80: Enjoying the easy stuff while it lasts

Miles Hiked: 26.1

Total Milage: 1302

This morning I woke up to my alarm at 5am. I swear I blinked my eyes and it was 5:15. I woke 12 pack up and we started to get ready. The sunrise was incredibly red and beautiful. We left camp around 6am. There were thunderstorms predicted for today as well so we were eager to hike as much as we could before getting caught in the rain. The trail continued to be a green tunnel with occasional views. I absolutely loved how easy the trail was. There were not any obstacles at all today! 7 miles in we took a short break to eat some snacks before continuing to the nearest water source at Razor Creek. We didn’t see any other hikers today until after we hiked 10 miles.

After Razor Creek we took a break at the top of a small climb to make some lunch. I cooked ramen noodles with peanut butter. We were making great timing again. It’s really easy to hike 10 miles by 10am if you wake up early and the terrain is gentle. I was feeling pretty tired today but since the climbs were gradual it was easy to keep on chugging along. I took my rain coat on and off several times because it was chilly and would sprinkle occasionally. Around 20 miles we reached a highway crossing at 2pm. We knew we could hitch in to a nearby town where there was a restraunt so we decided to give it a try. After 45 minutes, all 6 cars that drove by did not pick us up. Right when we were about to start hiking again a car pulled up and let two hikers out. They are hiking a little under 200 miles to Durango Colorado to finish the Colorado Trail! The driver of the car offered 12 pack and I some homemade cookies which were delicious. They also made us a ham sandwich and gave us a Gatorade. Both 12 pack and I were so happy! We got some yummy food without having to leave the trail! I saved my sandwich for dinner and 12 pack had some extra mustard packets to add to it.

After the highway we wanted to hike 5 more miles to get in 25 miles total for the day. The terrain remained super easy. What a relief! At mile 25 we started looking for a camp spot. The sky was getting dark and it was sprinkling on us. We ended up walking one more mile before finding a flat spot to camp at. What a relief we escaped yet another day of rain! At camp I ate my sandwich, organized my snacks for the next day, took my vitamins, stretched, brushed my teeth, wrote my blog, and checked Guthooks to see what we will face tomorrow! I’m so happy we got a second day of great hiking in and we did 25 miles in an extremely reasonable amount of time. I really enjoy waking up early and getting to camp early. 5am to 5pm is when I like to be up and hiking!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 79: Lucky Day!

Miles Hiked: 25.5

Total Milage: 1275.9

Location: Sargents Mesa

This morning I woke up before 6am. 12 pack cooked us the rest of the eggs for breakfast and we got packed up and ready to hit the trail. Maddie and Max hitched out before us and 12 pack and I got a ride around 7am by a guy who worked ski patrol for Monarch Ski Resort! He was on his way to work at the top of the pass and helps out hikers when he can. It was a nice ride back to the trail! It was honestly really hard to leave the butterfly house after looking at the forecast and seeing that it is supposed to rain and thunderstorm everyday for the next week.

Once on trail we started climbing the other side of the pass. We walked over some exposed mountains for a while but the terrain was relatively very easy compared to what I just got done hiking! There was a dusting of snow on the ground from the storm yesterday and it looked really pretty glistening in the sun. About 8 miles in, we passed the first shelter I have seen that is actually on the trail! I really miss the AT shelters. Of course 12 pack and I took a quick break to enjoy it. The CDT would be amazing if they existed! 12 pack and I ran in to Maddie and Max at a trailhead exactly 10 miles from town. We all took a break together before continuing on.

The rest of the day we hiked in a green tunnel of trees which was so nice after all the crazy exposed mountains we have been on. It’s so nice to not worry about being the tallest thing around if a storm breaks lose. One notable thing about today is that I hardly saw any water compared to the rest of Colorado. I actually have to start paying attention to where I can find it now that the snow melt has all run off. Before finding a place to camp on Sargents Mesa, 12 pack and I filled up all of our water bottles at the nearest stream. The day ended with a walk through a beautiful meadow. When we set up camp at 5pm we had hiked 25.5 miles! Not only that but we managed not to get rained on at all despite the bad weather reports and thunderheads looming. I was so happy with how today went!

For dinner I treated myself to a mountain house pad Thai that my mom sent me. I was saving it for a bad day but today was so great I just decided to eat it and it was amazing! I’ll definitely be buying that one at some point again. I caught up on all my blog posts before falling asleep.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird