Mile 31.2 South Texas Creek to 51.7
I was hoping to sleep in another 30 minutes but nope. 5 am. The Songbird and 5 Star alarm wait for no one. I waited a few minutes until I sat up and started to pack up. My socks and shoes were still soaking wet. Wet shoes in the morning is not a pleasant feeling. I packed up everything and ate a Belvita. I have pop tarts left. Bleh. I grabbed some more water from the creek and then we were off.
Off to climb over 2,300 feet. We started the climb and it was miserable. The plants were soaking wet, the ground was muddy, and you couldn’t go 50 feet without having to crawl over or walk around a blowdown. It was also pretty steep just to add to the fun of the morning.
We broke out of the tree line and still had a muddy wet trail. Keeping my feet dry just didn’t seem to be on the menu today. However, moose was on the menu. We saw another momma and baby moose. They were in the trees and pretty far away. That makes 6 we have seen.
The approach to Cottonwood Pass was pretty long. I wasn’t feeling good and was moving pretty slow. We could see Smiles and another hiker up ahead.
The final climb to the road/pass was a bit steep. I was pretty beat by the time I reached the top. The road was only at about 12,100 feet and we still had another 500 feet to climb before dropping and climbing again. Multiple times.
We dropped down to the road and saw Smiles and another hiker sitting by a trail head sign. We walked over and said hello before sitting down to take a break. I only had 3/4 of a liter of water left and water wasn’t for another 6 miles. There was a pond down below where we were but I was too lazy to go down and back up.
Smiles got up and took off up the trail. The other hiker, Elizabeth, took off About 10 minutes later. As we were sitting there a few Jeeps showed up. 2 guys took off up the trail carrying fly fishing poles. Another Jeep and an F250 showed up and looked like some day hikers.
We got up and headed up the trail before the day hikers clogged up the trail. The trail ran through Alpine tundra. We could also see down into a valley that we were looking across yesterday.
The trail was covered in snow and so we had to walk up the delicate alpine tundra. When I got to the top 5 Star and Songbird were on their phones. I turned mine on for a minute just to check for messages. I am worried about running out of battery in case Monarch Crest doesn’t have a place to charge. Also, it has been very overcast so I haven’t been able to use 5 Star’s solar charger.
While we were up there Smiles came walking back. Headed the wrong way. She said she had enough of climbs in bad weather. The sky was pretty dark. She was going into town and if the weather was still ugly she would pick up the trail on the Collegiate East where it isn’t as high.
After about 15 minutes we headed down the trail. We had to drop about 300 feet before climbing right back up. The climbs were pretty steep, as usual. The switchback went under a patch of snow so we had to climb up and over loose rocks to get back on the trail.
We reached the second pass and had to drop 600 feet before climbing back up 800 feet to almost 12,800. There was a snow patch we had to cross way in the distance and so we made bets on how long it would take. I guessed 10 minutes, 5 Star guessed 17, and Songbird guessed 20. We got there in 12 minutes.
The trail wrapped around the side of the mountain and we had a clear view of the valley and where we were yesterday. We came across a spring out of some rocks so I grabbed some water. It was ice cold and tasted really good.
We crossed over the third pass and started making our way down. We made another bet on how long to get to a snow patch. 5 Star guessed 30 minutes, Songbird guessed 32, and I guessed 45. I instantly regretted my guess after we walked about a 1/4 mile.
It took 33 minutes. We found some shade and took a break. We also scattered our wet stuff all over the place in hopes it would dry even if the sun was being held hostage by dark clouds. Songbird kept scratching her bee sting and 5 Star kept telling her to stop. As we were getting ready to leave 5 Star bandaged her ankle where she was stung.
We made our way down 1,000 feet into a valley of boulders. Pika and marmot city.
The climb up was 800 feet to 12,800 feet. The climb wasn’t too bad.
We then dropped down another 600 feet before climbing back up 700 feet to 12,900 feet. The climb was brutal. It was so steep. We hung out on the top for 10 minutes talking to a couple of hikers, Ballsack and Loveboat.
The sky was looking mean so we took off. As we were making our way down it started to rain. Out came the rain jacket and umbrella.
The trail finally started to drop and we flew down the trail. The rain would stop and start multiple times. We dropped down to 11,000 feet. As we got closer to the bottom where a dirt road was the rain picked up harder. We crossed a wooden foot bridge and got to the road. I spotted a place to camp but the flat spots were muddy and there were dirt bike riders going up and down the road.
We decided to head down the trail a bit and see if we could find some spots. The rain let up and we found a spot. There was enough room for two tents and another about 25 feet away. Just as we were setting up the rain picked up again. I quickly finished setting up and jumped in. The rain is cold!