Segment 5 Mile 7.4 to Segment 6 Mile 9.4
After yesterday’s unplanned almost-marathon we have a lazy morning stopping to chat with all kinds of hikers hoping to find our bubble or even better, a potential trail family of cool people doing similar miles. Those with smaller packs are definite contenders and we see tons of ULA today. Except they are all going in to town in a few miles and we are not. Bummer.
The second half of segment 5 continues to impress. We curve up and around a series of hills that alternate between forest shade and grassy Meadows with stunning views of the still-snowy continental divide which we will finally reach tomorrow.
The morning is hot though and most of the day is up. So instead of breaking at Kenosha pass (other than to make excellent use of the pit toilets), we head on to get more elevation out of the way before the real heat of the afternoon. The trail seems to follow some old train tracks (this was a major obligatory passage point for three railways back in the day), and we have so much fun walking them we veer off trail for a few minutes. Oops.But the main factor shaping today, aside from yesterday’s big efforts, is the impending Georgia Pass. Doing twenty miles today would land us exactly at the top, above the tree line at 12,000 feet. Not exactly a safe place to camp in a thunderstorm. Luckily, a women headed north confirms camping at mile 9.4 a) exists b) has water and c) is below the tree line. “Just turn left at the moose bones,” she explains, as if that’s a perfectly normal set of directions.
And of course the thunder clouds are gathering. By the time we stop for lunch among the aspen at the pretty Guernsey creek, the sky has darkened, the wind kicked up and all signs point to a downpour. A local car camper (with a massive tent-shelter we were admittedly hoping he would offer us to hide under) assured us that he though it would all blow over without raining on us. I have to admit I was rather skeptical, but he was right! After a few tiny sprinkles the sky lightened and was well. Even better, we soon meet two cool hikers, both from Texas which gives me hope for my move next month. There’s Jesse who is hiking with his sweet lab-collie mix Juniper who massively makes me miss my dog Onyx. And there’s Sour Patch, a compete bad ass Appalachian Trail hiker who is out here pulling 30 mile days with a pack that weighs twice as much as mine. Here we are feeling like we are crushing it and she started at day later! I am seriously impressed. We join forces, talking our way through what can be slumpy afternoon miles, winding up forest slopes until we all decide to stop just this side of the pass. Partly because the dark clouds are still hovering and there’s thunder in the not-so-distance. Partly because it sets us up well for tomorrow to camp just short of Breckenridge instead of spending more money on accommodations in town. And partly because of the great company. Though I am feeling pretty strong still, getting to camp before 5 is a welcome luxury after a series of long days. So there are seven humans and one dog at camp tonight and while we are all generally getting along fabulously there are lot of different styles converging here. Take for example the range of food storage strategies: sleep with (2); bear piñata (2 sharing one bag); ursacks tied properly to tree but not hung (2) and opsack in an ursack in a dry bag hung in tree (1). This last woman admitted that she spent the last week hanging a bear canister (!!!) in a tree (!!!). Despite this incredible caution said woman sprayed her tent and the ground around it with about a half can of flowery scented bug spray that proceeded to waft all over my tent. This all reminded me of a time in girl guides when one person convinced the other girls to smear deodorant all over their tents to repel bears (when scented products can attract bears as much as food LOL).
Still, much awesome conversation at camp tonight. There’s a pair of hikers, The Giggle Twins, who are absolutely hilarious in all the right ways. The have some chlorophyll powder they have been eating straight to help combat the elevation but it turns their lips dark green. I totally assumed they were awesome goth hikers, when they are awesome feminist apothecaries. They were so excited that Jesse was just behind us, they ran down the trail to meet him and insisted he camp here with the ladies. And he did. Hopefully because this is a rad group of interesting, energetic folks and not just because it’s the last water this side of the pass.