I pass a fitful night in Silverton – Crankster sleeps with the TV on, and after thirty-odd days of having little noise about when I sleep, it’s distracting, and eventually I get up and watch, HGTV’s House Hunters my guilty pleasure. I finally think she’s been asleep for long enough (and that I’m ready to go to sleep) at 1am; she turns on the TV again at 1:30. I put my buff over my eyes and manage to find unconsciousness.
We wake around 8, and Crank tells me she turned on the TV after hearing yelling in the hall – the ghosts supposedly lurking in our residence, perhaps. She’s not too keen on this whole “consciousness” thing, and after last night’s lack of sleep, I’m not too keen on this “hiking out today” thing, but both of us manage to get in the shower and, after securing a late checkout, out the door to do town chores.
So it’s off to the outdoor store for Mountain Houses for Crank, a fistful of Shot Bloks for me; then to the grocery store, where we load up on three and a half days’ worth of food1; then it’s the hotel to pack our bags and Mattie and Maud’s to pack our stomachs full of delightful breakfast foods. We’re dragging our feet – both of us aren’t thrilled about hiking today – but hey, at least the weather’s better, and there are only 75 miles to go.
We get a hitch before we even get out of town; Nancy believes in building up good karma, and is happy to drive us back up to Molas Pass. She wants to hike the trail herself one day, and is thinking about doing a two-week section with her 11-year old daughter next year. Crankster and I couldn’t be more encouraging, because if not next year, then when? Life will always find a way to get in the way, but if you make hiking a priority, you can do eet. We wish her well as she continues her drive to Durango.
We make a quick pit stop to take a photo of the sign by the roadside that inspired Crankster to hike, then we’re on our way. It’s 1pm, later than we’d like, but we still think we can manage fifteen miles.
We very quickly find ourselves by Little Molas Lake, and we follow the tracks of the couple we leapfrogged with yesterday on a nice, up-ish track, weaving in and out of day users from the campground.
It’s a much nicer day weather-wise than yesterday, and it’s showing in the smiles of the hikers. A group from Arkansas stops us to ask us what we’re doing, chats with us for a bit, then wishes us luck on our final stretch.
Up, up, up – there’s so much bonus water2 up here after all the wetness of the last two days, and we’re thankful we don’t have to carry so much water with us. Plus, the fact that it’s cleared off has given us some pretty amazing views.
Finally, after much up, we get some flat before we climb the nameless pass du jour. It’s getting cold, and I’m hunkered down in my windshirt and rain jacket; just keep moving, just keep moving, just keep moving, moving, moving.
In the last fifty feet to the top, there’s one last, seemingly pointless switchback that we get angry at, until we realize why it’s there.
And then, the pass, a single picture as it’s COLD up here, and we’re headed downhill the rest of the day.
We run into the couple from yesterday just below the pass; they have a day and a half to make it the nine miles to the end of Segment 25, and they’ll be taking their time. We, on the other hand, have planned to do three twenty-mile days, to finish on the 19th; that way, Crankster’ll have time to drive me back to Boulder and hang out for a bit before heading off to her next job posting.
We congratulate the couple – the hardest part of their hike is behind them – and wave goodbye. So many goodbyes recently! The end of the hike is looming large as we make our way downward in the fading light.
Crank’s ready to stop soon after, and we evaluate and reject a campsite before stopping about a mile before we’d intended, at a site nestled off the trail amongst pine trees. Walking on pine duff like this is comfortable, sleeping on it is going to be akin to the bed we slept in last night. We nestle in with no regrets, and with an eye towards the finish line.
Start: 410.7 • End: 424.6 • Day: 13.9
Notable Accomplishments: Actually escaped the gravitational pull of town • Pushed through when didn’t particularly want to be walking • 60 miles to go
 Which, let’s be real, is still probably too much food for me – four weeks and I still haven’t dialed in my eating habits. It’s hard for me to bring myself to cook after I’ve settled in.
 Water that isn’t on the maps or in the Guidebook.