Saturday, May 26, 2018 — Miles 8.7–23.4 (14.7 miles for the day)
We had big plans of waking early to get started on the day, but it seems the memories of city comfort followed us last night. We tossed and turned, loving the sound of the creek and the wind in the trees, but the ground was hard and our bodies not used to roughing it.
So instead we wake at 8 and pack up camp. By 9, we’re ready to go, and a father/son biker duo are asking for our campsite. Absolutely.
We take off and immediately begin to climb. It’s a beautiful trail, though, so we don’t mind, and Isaac entertains me with stories from his international travels before I knew him. 2 hours, 4 miles, and 1,500 feet later we max out on top of a beautiful ridge. We pause here and enjoy a cold but tasty insta-latte (no fuel means cold coffee). A couple college guys pass us, and we end up leap frogging them all day.
Refreshed with sugar and caffeine, we begin again and power down the other side, 4 miles to the bottom of a new canyon. We reach the end of Segment 1 right at the South Platte River and pause for a decent lunch break. Over an hour goes by as we soak our feet and chat with the families who are spending the day there. We also use this opportunity to fill all of our water reservoirs, as the next 13 miles of trail are dry, and we’ll need to dry camp somewhere in the middle.
Loaded down with 5 L of water (an additional 11 pounds of weight), we struggle back out of the canyon and onto a new ridge. We enter the remains of a burn scar — what first looks dead soon comes alive. So many plants and flowers and butterflies in birds that are making a home in this stunning place. I feel immensely thankful for the cloud cover that keeps us cool while we hike through the area.
We re-enter the forest and briefly pause at our intended campsite, but we think we’ve got a little more in us so we press on for a couple more miles. Finally we’re able to set up camp, and not a moment too soon. Our soft city bodies are aching with the miles of trail we accomplished today—and most of that up a steep grade. We rehydrate some cold chicken teriyaki, and collapse in the tent before the sun goes down. Sore, but still so thankful to be here.