Daily Miles: 18
Total Miles: 256
After a long delay in Salida, we finally got back on the trail today, heading south. SweetPea ended up with five rest days and Beardoh got two. Salida was a pretty good town to spend time, so no complaints. SweetPea got to experience three different places to stay while Beardoh was on the trail. Lodging was pretty tight in town, due to all the hikers, regular tourists coming for rafting on the Arkansas River and a metal worker convention. So, SweetPea had to move to a new place each night.
We were happy to see each other again after Beardoh finished hiking the Collegiate West Route. Under normal circumstances (on and off the trail) we pretty much spend all of our time together. So, it feels weird when we don’t see each other for a few days.
We spent several hours yesterday talking with a couple who is hiking the CT and who is also from NH. We had a good time getting to know them and hopefully we’ll see them again…either in CO or NH.
This morning, we decided to get an early start to the trail after having breakfast at the hotel. It took us two hitches and a lot of time before making it to the trailhead at Monarch Pass. It was basically two hours from when we left the hotel until we got to the trail…definitely had hoped for quicker rides, but we were grateful for the two guys who did pick us up.
There were two possible points to start from today…the last few miles of the Collegiate West or the last few miles of the Collegiate East. They merged back together shortly after the road. We decided to start at the point which was at a higher elevation…we wanted to be above treeline and to have big open views.
The trail was really nice today, and seemed to be taking it easy on us, since it was SweetPea’s first day hiking in five days. The tread was nice for the first half of the day, and the ups and downs were really gradual. We enjoyed the big views when we had them, and the weather was really mild…blue skies in the morning, with grey skies coming in before lunch. We had a few short bits of light rain, but nothing to stop and put a rain jacket on for.
When SweetPea was in Salida, she had found a Spam Single in a hiker box. Since we aren’t digging our tunas, she picked it up for something different to try. Our friend, Qball, has told us for years that he likes eating Spam on the trail. We have always been wary of it, but we tried it today and actually thought it was good. We’ve even talked this afternoon about picking up Spam in our next town for the next section. It feels like we have crossed over to the dark side. 🙂
The afternoon trail seemed to be a lot more abused. We have been hearing of a section of trail that has been damaged due to (permitted) ATV and motor bike use. We assume we have reached the infamous section. In the flat parts of the trail which can stay wet, there are huge ruts in the trail. On the sections of trail that are up or down, there is serious erosion issues and the trail is just worn down to rocks. Not sure what agency thought it would be a good idea to let motorized vehicles on the trail, but it would be good for them to take a hike in this area to see the results of such a decision. The one good thing, is that we saw only one motorbike…otherwise the trail was very quiet. We had talked with a family of hikers who came through this section during the 4th of July weekend, and it sounded like they had seen a lot of motorized traffic on the trail.
We kept hearing ominous thunder throughout the afternoon and our evening dinner break. We decided not to walk far after dinner so we could get our tarps and hammocks up before any rain started. We timed it perfectly, as we started to hear sprinkles on our tarps just after we got in our hammocks. It meant a pretty early day for us (ending by 6:15pm), especially with such a late start this morning, but we figured it was best to have a mild day for our first day back on the trail together.
We met a few other CT hikers today. One guy, James, we had met back on the third day of the trail. But mostly we didn’t see other hikers.