Daily Miles: 18
Total Miles: 337
The sky was still grey when we got going in the morning, but as long as it wasn’t raining, we were fine. We finished the climb up to the saddle for San Luis peak, which is one of the 14,000 foot mountains in CO. The climb was tedious…not because of any steepness (it was actually well graded), but because the trail wound through chest-high bushes which were overgrown and still wet from yesterday’s rains. We became soaked from the thigh down within five minutes of when we started walking.
We started to see other hikers once we reached the saddle. Since today is Saturday, there were a bunch of people hiking up to the peak of San Luis. It was definitely the most hikers we had seen in quite awhile.
The trail followed the contour of the mountains, crossing over shorter saddles as we went. We enjoy that kind of hiking, where you can see the trail for awhile in front and in back of us.
The wildflowers on the trail today were fantastic. There have been lots of wildflowers on the trail so far, but today it seemed like there were even more and that the colors were more vibrant. There were multiple times when we just had to stop and admire the beauty of all the color. We also saw a marmot and multiple pikas during the day, which always brings a smile to our faces.
The trail continued going over passes, and at 10am, it started to rain. Since it was grey all day, it had never really warmed up, so we weren’t thrilled about the rain. This rain also seemed different than what we have been experiencing…first of all it was in the morning, and second of all there was no thunder or lightning. It continued to rain on us, but we figured that since there was no thunder or lightning, we would just walk as we wanted to make it over a lot of high elevation miles.
We decided to put up a tarp when we stopped for lunch, since it was still raining. We were really chilled, so we decided to have our hot dinner for lunch instead. The rice meal we cooked took so long, that the skies were bright blue before we even ate! There were five other CT hikers who passed us while we were stopped for lunch. It was the most CT hikers we have seen in a long time.
After lunch, we headed out and were soon at a point, after which there would be no trees for 8 miles. The weather had changed again and it looked really ominous up the trail, so we decided to wait for a bit to see if the sky cleared up again. After sitting in the trail for 30 minutes, it started to rain, so we went into the trees and put up a tarp. It rained for another hour and then the rain was basically done. By then it was already 4pm, and we decided to make a call that it wouldn’t rain any more that afternoon. So, we headed up a climb that brought us to what is known as the snow mesa. The sky stayed grey, but luckily didn’t rain on us. The climb was gradual, and then we were on the snow mesa, which we were happy to see had almost no snow on it. It was basically a flat-ish plateau really high up. It had the feel of a vast tundra.
The views in the late afternoon were spectacular. We just kept marveling at the amazing vistas, as we were walking in completely exposed landscape. We were definitely in the mountains we had envisioned when we thought of CO.
We made it the 8 miles back to treeline by 7:30pm and got our hammocks and tarps set up just before it started to rain again. We ate our tuna and crackers under the tarp and were ready to get some sleep, as we were pretty beat. Being cold and walking in rain can really eat up your energy.