Daily Miles: 13
Total Miles: 139
Even though we were only three miles from the road to Leadville, we decided to get up at the same time. We figured that the earlier we get in, the earlier we get back to the trail to get in a few more miles.
We got to the road before 8am and didn’t have to wait long for someone to pull over and give us a ride. Hitching on the trail can be a source of really good and interesting interactions, or they can be just plain weird. Our hitch into town was with a total weirdo. In the time it took us to drive the nine miles to Leadville, he had managed to pontificate on any number of topics. We finally stopped responding to him with the hope that he would stop talking, but that didn’t happen. At least we were able to get into town.
Once we were dropped off, we walked to the only diner we were aware of to get some breakfast. While the food was good, the diner just wasn’t very welcoming. It seemed to be a popular place with the locals, and they didn’t seem interested in being helpful to hikers.
After breakfast, we walked to the hostel to pick up a few boxes we had sent to ourselves. Our original plan had been to stay the night, but when we called to reserve a room from Frisco, we were told they were booked up. So, today when we picked up our packages, we offered to pay since we weren’t staying over. The owner wouldn’t take money, but at the same time chastised us for not reserving a room early enough. She said she had been booked for two weeks, so apparently, she thought we should have reserved a room weeks ago.
Once we had our food sorted, we packed up and we’re ready to leave Leadville, with several bad impressions in our minds. Luckily we had a few positive interactions on the way out of town which allowed us to leave on a good note…we got some free fruit from some guys on the road, and then we got a quick hitch back to the trail from a super nice and interesting guy.
When we got back to the trailhead, we met an military vet who is currently working to make Camp Hale a national monument. He told us about the history of the military base, which was really interesting. We enjoyed talking with him and just meeting another interesting person along the journey.
Just like in the morning, the trail was pretty quiet in the afternoon. We saw maybe three CDT hikers going the opposite direction, and one CT section hiker. That was pretty much it. The rest of the day, we pretty much had the trail to ourselves.
In the afternoon, the trail returned to what we call “New England Trail”…steep and rocky. Quite a bit of the afternoon trail was like this. We got up to 11,700 feet and encountered snow patches on the north side of the pass. There was enough snow that SweetPea decided to break out the micro-spikes she has been carrying for the past two days. Near the end of the snow, she tweaked her hip, which is always frustrating. We stopped and did some triage (stretching, massage, rolling the hiking pole on her leg).
We took our dinner break a short time later and she continued to massage her hip and legs. It still didn’t feel great after dinner, but we figured that walking on it might help to loosen things up. We started a descent which went through a very rocky section, where there were no camping options available for almost an hour. We did eventually manage to find a pretty good spot to hang our hammocks and tarps.
The mosquitoes continued to be horrendous today. They reminded us of the mosquitoes on the PCT between Yosemite and Sonora Pass…a notoriously bad area for bugs. Most breaks were kept short because the bugs were so bad. Our dinner break was horrible with the relentless mosquitoes.
We’re going to see how SweetPea’s hip feels tomorrow morning and then take things from there. We might head into town for a day or so of rest for the hip, but if her hip is feeling good, we might be tempted to just continue on.