There’s frost all over everything when we wake, and I’m even more sore than I think I should be, but we’re shoving everything into our packs wet in order to get an earlier start than yesterday. We manage it, if barely, and we’re off down the hill towards Cochetopa Creek.
On the way down, Crankster introduces us to the game Crockpotting, which is kind of like Twenty Questions, but with actions instead of things. Also, you ask all the questions using the word “crockpot”, e.g. “Can you crockpot with your friends?” “Do you crockpot every day?” and usually leading to much hilarity, especially when the crockpot is something innocuous like laughing. The game takes us all the way to the creek, where we lay our stuff out in the sun and have breakfast, fill up on water at the source we’ll be following for most of the day.
We move on a little slower than maybe we’d like, but we’re finally starting to feel human again; and soon enough, the trail comes off the road to cross the creek. I’m on the hunt for the best path, plowing ahead as soon as I think I find it; NoDay and Crankster chuckle about my not giving a fuck, and follow in my footsteps.
From there, it’s up up up, Crockpotting where we can, but it’s hard to hear when you’re at the back of a group of three, and eventually our conversation wanes and we split up. Crank and NoDay speed ahead, and I’m left alone with my insecurities and my angry, angry bowels, upset with the potato offering from last night. Still, it’s not that bad a climb, and it’s a beautiful day.
Then we’re into and out of the La Garita Wilderness like a hiccup, and out to the pit toilets at Eddiesville Trailhead at the end of Segment 19. We grab water at Stewart Creek, then make our way along the road to where the trail skirts private land. There’s a register there, and we recognize a number of names on the list: Carrot, Buck Thirty, Light Brite, McGuyver. NoDay remarks that an acquaintance of hers isn’t on the list; she expects he’s somewhere behind us, and gaining.
But as we move down the trail under somewhat intense bovine stares, we’re focused on getting set up to maybe climb San Luis tomorrow – there’s dissension in the ranks as to whether or not we’re gonna – hell, I don’t know if I’m gonna – and that dissension that manifests itself in a heated conversation about religion and women’s rights and the difference between growing up white and growing up black. It’s an interesting conversation that we somehow get through with only feathers ruffled, and a lot of thought on the other side.
We make our way up, up, through less-well-kept trail, climbing, lost in thought. Eventually, the conversation comes back on a lighter note, one more reflective of the landscape, and of our thoughts for tomorrow.
It’ll be my first 14er, one of Crankster’s first-but-not-quite, NoDay’s 30th. I’m unsure of myself – I’ve been behind the whole time this trip, am probably going to be behind on the mountain, but it’s a mile and a quarter from the trail to the top, 1400 feet of elevation gain – I think I can do it in like 3 hours up and down. Time will tell, and doubt’s a constant presence at the back of my mind.
It’s bushwhacking of the tamest sort as we follow the trail up and up through an absurd number of dead trees. We’d heard the beetlekill was bad, but I certainly couldn’t have imagined this.
These dead trees loiter around all the beautiful campspots we find; even though I know I’m a bit of a priss when it comes to campspots, the ones we find make the others nervous as well. Finally, we cross Cochetopa Creek one last time, and find a campspot as close as we’re going to get to the final ascent to the saddle and the side trail to San Luis, no dead trees threatening our slumber. It’s a little slanted, but we don’t mind.
It’s cold once the sun leaves us, but we stay up cooking and eating and chatting amicably into the evening, until the chill chases us into our sleeping bags.
Start: 321.6 • End: 337.5 • Day: 15.9
Notable Accomplishments: Kept walking • Hopefully wasn’t too much of a dick in an intense conversation • Prepped, at least location-wise, for an attempt at San Luis