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Colorado Trail - Day 8

Updated: May 20, 2020

SEGMENT 12 (Northbound) Today I began my run from the Silver Creek trailhead, on what looked like a beautiful Rocky Mountain summer day. Early morning temperatures were in the mid-40's, with the ever present smell of high altitude flowers and fir trees. This segment was listed at 18.5 miles, but I was surprised that it took only about four hours to cover it, given the elevation gain of 4,300 vertical feet. The first nine miles were mostly uphill, followed by two descents - the first from 10 through 12, and a second drop from miles 13 through 18. It felt good to be above timberline for extended periods of time once again. The views are always outstanding above 11,000'. Compared to several of the previous segments, water was abundant once again, easing my mind of potential hydration issues. Once again, the Sawyer Mini filter proved its worth and allowed me to replenish my water quickly and efficiently. I stopped for lunch around 11:00 a.m., and felt very good at that point. Because of the segment lengths and associated logistics, I was forced to have somewhat of a heavy backpack for the first time in about a week. I estimate that the pack weighed about 14 pounds at the onset of the first segment, but I knew it would get lighter over the next 50 miles. I finished Segment 12 shortly after noon, and began the long climb of the southern-most portion of Segment 11. SEGMENT 11 (Northbound) This segment began with a lengthy climb near the Clear Creek reservoir and campground. The campsites were bustling with campers, bikers and through-hikers. To date, this was by far the busiest segment that I've encountered on this journey. Someone was grilling steaks or burgers, and even though I had just eaten my own lunch, I must admit, it smelled really good! About half way into this segment, I was treated by the picturesque Twin Lakes with Twin Peaks rising up to the southwest. Just off to the west, Colorado's tallest mountain (Mt. Elbert, 14,443') loomed within striking distance of a side trip. I knew it would knock me way off course, so I avoided the temptation. The threat of afternoon storms is always present in the Rockies, and today was no exception. Off to the south and west, the clouds were beginning to build, and for the first time during my expedition, I could feel the humidity in the air. By its very nature, Colorado is considered to be semi-arid, but by mid-afternoon, I was sweating much heavier than usual. Feeling bogged down by the humidity and another ascent up to 10,522', my pace slowed dramatically, from nine and ten minute miles, to 15 and 16 minutes per mile. As I reached the high point near Herrington Creek, it began to sprinkle and then rain. Segment 11 is 21.5 miles long and I was able to run the first 17 miles without getting wet. But that all changed very quickly. I covered my backpack with the plastic trash bags that I tote around with me. While I got soaked, I was able to keep my quilt, tent and clothing dry. I reached the end of the segment at the Mt. Massive trailhead, around 8:00 p.m. and deployed my sleeping quarters just in time to experience one of the most intense lightning storms I've ever seen. Luckily, I stayed dry in my tent all night long. Once again, I felt blessed to accomplish another productive day on the trail. Today's mileage was 40.1 miles with a total gain of 8,300' in elevation. Blessed for sure. End of Day 8

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