Heidenreich & Gass: CDT Thru-Hikers

Trail Dispatch: Week 9

June 22, 2000—Day 61—Garfield, Colorado —We've come about 102 miles from Lake City, and yee haw for the Cochetopa Hills! We left the high country and joined the cows just in time for three days of rain and thunderstorms. It was a pleasant change of pace to be among aspens and rolling green hillsides, in contrast to the rugged alpine country of the San Juans. The mosquitoes, however, were not so pleasant.

Storm as it did, we were able to keep on walking without the threat of electrocution or wandering off a ridge into a misty cloud. We experienced our record-breaking day for mileage on just such a day—I say experienced it because we certainly didn't plan it. We had planned a much shorter day but ended up going on in search of water. In Colorado we had become accustomed to getting water from snowmelt and had not considered that the streams of the lower country might be dry gulches. We ended that tired day by a muddy beaver pond which by nightfall became perfectly suitable. Our standards had certainly changed from mid-afternoon when we first started looking for a site. The rain let up just long enough to set up our tent, which was a while as we debated whether to walk an extra couple hundred yards to the woods for protection should it start to storm again. Luckily, we chose the forest, for no sooner was our tent set up than a crash of thunder and a downpour confined us inside its nylon walls praying for our lives. There must have been something exciting in that beaver pond, for all the bolts hit too close for comfort. What a way to end a long day.

Joining us in the wet hills were many recreationalists, which was quite a change from the San Juans. We encountered our first horsepackers right out of Spring Creek Pass. It was actually quite a scary adrenaline rush because one of the horses fell while trying to cross a rock slide and was stuck on its back. Eventually, after removing its pack the horse was able to stand, but all involved were shaken.

We have finally met the infamous pair: Simon and Darryl. After our long break in Telluride they were right on our tail all the way from Lake City. We kept a sharp eye out to the hills behind us trying to be the ones to spot them first—no use in being surprised. We ate our lunch up off the trail so we could come storming down in attack should they overtake us. We did not actually run into them until Garfield, where we ended up sharing a motel room with them, as well as another questionable fellow, Rob of Loxley, England, who is hiking southbound. With the five of us it made for a stinky room.

Happy Solstice to all! And did you hike naked on the longest day of the year? Nothing like the breeze on a bare bottom to celebrate the most sunlight you'll get all year.


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