Between my screeching leg muscles and my just-slightly-too-loosely-staked-out vestibule flapping in the wind, I don’t sleep well. The sun rises early on Snow Mesa, and I’m sure it’s beautiful, but I’m burrowed down in my sleeping bag to avoid the light, and therefore consciousness and said muscles, as long as possible. Continue reading
We wake to a light covering of frost on our tents, morning seeping into the valley around us. Today’s the day. My first fourteener. Period. End of story. I’m doing it. The sun’s shining, the LATS1 weather report is clear, it’s nice and early, we’re camped less than a mile from the saddle – everything’s perfectly set up. I just have to get up about 900 feet in a mile to the saddle, and then another 1400 feet in a mile and a quarter to the top.
I didn’t know until now that one could be so confident about a positive outcome and terribly, undercutting-ly skeptical of that confidence all at once, but hey, that’s human emotion for you. Continue reading
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.
NoDay and I spend a freezing cold night in her truck – or, at least, I do; she, at least, has an inflatable pad, where I have a half-inch of ZLite between me and metal of the truck, and it’s about the same amount of metal between me and the cold night air. I learn the hard way why insulation is key, especially when you’re sleeping a couple of feet off the ground.
So while a pair of socks and a pair of underoos are frozen as stiff as my pride, my laundry outside fared a little better – not quite dry AND not quite frozen. We take time to let stuff dry in the growing sunlight, say goodbye to NoDay’s truck, and then we’re on our way.
I wake in the night to a large critter rumbling around near my tent, freak out, fumble to turn on my headlamp – it lumbers away. Talking to Crankster in the morning, she’s pretty confused as to why I turned on my headlamp when she got up to relieve herself; I feel embarassed obligated to explain that I wasn’t trying to watch her pee.
Today should be a little easier on my foot – it’s twelve miles to the next water source, and thirteen to where we’re meeting NoDay, and then we make however many miles we make. Crank’s also given me some leukotape to hold up my arch1, and tonguepads to stick on the insole of my shoe, so between the two I can hopefully limp2 myself the rest of the way to Durango.
In towns, it feels like I’m near-constantly glued to a screen. Mostly, it’s because I chose the wrong external battery for writing blog posts – I should’ve brought the big one – but also because I have relatively few hours in which to contact the outside world, see what’s going on, not become completely disconnected from context. Otherwise, it’s all eating and resupply and talking with friends and and and – it’s easy to just forget the rest of the world is there.
But when I heard through the Facebook grapevine that Blackhawk started the Colorado Trail, I got absurdly, unabashedly excited. Not only another brown person, but another black person! Hiking! And while he’s only slightly newer to this whole backpacking thing than I am, he’s out there! Doing it! Getting it done despite hesitations and fears and a heavy pack and all those things I’m feeling. And I’m excited for him and excited for me and excited for us and and and–
And I wonder how different our experiences will be: he as an identifiable black man, me as a visually-ambiguous brown-black woman-girl.
After another evening of not being crushed by widowmakers, we’re up early, out before 8, a welcome change to the last leg of my journey. Time to be productive. With the exception of one particular down, it’s supposed to be a day of gentle ups, but I’ve been burned on that before.
Still, the day is shaping up to be a pretty one.
We wake early-ish and struggle through hangovers of the too-much-fun kind to pack up camp. I’m not ready to leave the comfort that the people around me are creating, the quiet it creates in my heart. I remind myself I never wanted to do something like this again, and I think I was right – it’s hard, so hard to leave. Yesterday was one of those lifetimes in a hiccup, those days that just seem to go on for forever, that just feel right, and that are still somehow over too soon. We drag our feet until it’s late, until we can put off going no more.
My goal, on waking, is to be to the Campground to meet the rest of our merry band of miscreants around 10am. If yesterday is any indication, that is a flat-out impossibility, and so I grit my teeth and endure a little more drama with my continental breakfast coffee, shoo everyone out the hotel door by 9:50 for a hopeful arrival sometime not too much later than 10.
We’re there, finally, out of the car, and I’m simultaneously hugging and apologizing to the Irish Lawyer – so good to see him! – but, in his words, what more can be said about the Battle of Normandy that hasn’t already been said? We put it behind us, settle in for a beer like it’s a zero or something1, catch up. Then it’s rousing ourselves and piling the seven of us into vehicles, first for breakfast at the Brown Dog Cafe, then for the trip to Mount Princeton Hot Springs.
Special and I wake up late, as is our custom, but that’s early for the rest of the waking world – at least it seems so in Salida. It’s quiet here, peaceful, and while Crank’s been up for a little while, may or may not be getting antsy, the temptation is great to just lie here. But our stomachs are having none of that, so we negotiate a late checkout with the hotel and walk ourselves to Patio Pancake, about a mile and a half away. A leisurely stroll, and the breakfast is worth it.
I get more and more excited as the morning goes on – I get to see a bunch of my friends today! We get to go to Mount Princeton Hot Springs tomorrow! – and I throw myself into my chores to distract myself from the oh-so-slowly ticking clock. We check out the library, peruse Salida Mountain Sports where I grab another can of fuel because paranoia, and then head back to the hotel, gather our things to live like turtles for the rest of the early afternoon, until M comes and swoops us off to the Heart of the Rockies Campground around 1p or 2p. Continue reading