SEGMENT 14 (Northbound)
Traffic - something I haven't heard in a while. It wasn't a lot, but enough to know that I'm still in the civilized world.
I woke up around 4:00 this morning to the sweet sound of birds singing their pre-dawn melodies. And then - a blaring horn from a large truck barreling down Highway 50. I don't know if the driver was blasting his horn at wildlife crossing on the road below, or this was a planned attack on paradise. Whatever the reason, I was awake for the day.
My tent was about 200 yards away from the road, along with two others. It appeared to be a father and son in one tent, but I don't know who occupied the other. That's one thing I really like about the Colorado Trail - people are respectful of your personal space. If you need help, you simply ask. If you're asked for help, you simply step up.
A couple more things while I'm reflecting on my co-trekkers. So far on this journey, I've seen and picked up exactly two pieces of litter. Hikers and bikers are responsible and respectful of nature around these parts. And I can't give enough thanks to the volunteers who maintain these trail networks. Without them, we wouldn't have such great opportunities to enjoy Colorado.
I was on the trail by 6:35 this morning, ready to plow through another 14.5 miles on Segment 14. As I neared mile 13, I was relieved that I was almost to Chalk Creek and the surrounding cliffs. They should be visible any time... okaaaaaay, any time now. Suck!
I took another look at the CT App on my phone. I still had another six miles to go. Somehow, I got confused on the mileage for this segment. It didn't matter, I was still going the right direction.
In the shadows of 14'ers Mt. Shavano, Tabeguache Peak and Mt. Antero, I suddenly realized that this was the first segment of the entire journey that didn't reach an altitude of 10,000'.
I arrived at the Chalk Creek Trailhead around 10:15 and soaked my feet in the water for about 10 minutes. The water was cold but felt really, REALLY good. Just down the road was the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs resort. I must admit, the temptation for a $20.00 shower and a soak in the hot springs was there. I resisted, knowing that if I once got in, it was quite possible that I would never leave.
SEGMENT 13 (Northbound)
Back on the trail by 10:35, I had just 22.4 miles left for today's effort. For the second time since segment 19, I noticed the relentless heat of the sun bearing down on me, although clouds were building to the south and west. Thankfully, water supplies were abundant and I drank at least five liters of water on this segment. The first 12 miles were undulating soft trails, but I was confronted with a very steep climb up Mt. Yale about 16 miles in. This was the hardest climb since segment 24 last week. It seemed to go on forever and for the first time in three days, I began to feel fatigued, almost defeated. Several false summits added to the mood. The numbers didn't lie - the total ascent for this segment, was a whopping 5,300'!
Finally to the top and a very fast 3,000' descent, I knew I was done for the day. Another 42 miles in the books. About 245 miles in seven days.
Due to time constraints and other commitments, I must exit the trail and head home once again. I'll be back before summer's end to finish what I started. My original goal was to run 516 miles in 11 days. Because of detours, illness on the trail and other factors, I think 13 days would have been a more realistic goal. I didn't know what I didn't know. Especially, since the reroutes and missed turns added another 20 or more miles. No excuses though. I left it all out there (including some nasty piles of bile, regurgitated bacon and eggs) and have no regrets.
These seven days have been extraordinary. I've found that the trail has a heartbeat of its own. I was able to see, feel, smell and hear the trail as she told me stories from years gone by. I BECAME part of the trail and was at her mercy as she told me when, where and how I could move. And every once in awhile, she allowed me small victories so I could tell my own version of the story.
Heroes: Helpful people, Snickers bars, the Sawyer Mini water filter, trekking poles, Picaritin mosquito repellent, Salomon Speedcross 4 Trail shoes, Colorado Trail phone app.
Zeroes: Mosquitoes, dehydrated food, mosquitoes, cows, mosquitoes, marmots, mosquitoes. (Marmots are really okay, they just have a way of startling a person).
And finally, if you can make a donation to my friends at www.defeatthestigmaproject.org, please do so. Mental illness touches so many lives, and you can help with a small contribution.
End of Day 7
The war continues...