Day 22 — Heading Back Out

Sunday, August 26, 2018 — CW Miles 261.7–266.6 + CT 261.5–278.8 (22.2 miles for the day)

Isaac has scheduled a cab to pick us up this morning and whisk us back to the trailhead. Dave has opted to join us, though we’re all feeling reluctant to leave Salida.

Even with some slight delays, we’re back at Monarch Pass by 7:30, with enough time to get some coffee (Dave’s treat) at the store.

And then there’s nothing else to do but start moseying down the trail. We’re quickly reminded that it’s still the weekend, as evidenced by the plethora of hikers, bikers, and runners. When we’re not stepping out of the way to let people pass, we’re lamenting how heavy our packs our. We have 6 days of food in them, enough to get to Lake City. But they feel unnecessarily heavy, and all the extra weight has somehow settled in my feet. Every movement hurts. I assume it’s just post-town blues.

Later in the day we run into some bikers who are doing the whole trail. They’re short on food, so we happily pass some of ours off to them.

We have a lot of miles that we’re tackling today, enough to set us up for a subsequent dry stretch. We’re making good time until the afternoon when I trip and land awkwardly on my foot. It’s the same one that’s been giving me pain since Breckenridge, only now it smarts pretty badly. Every step is painful.

Our progress grinds to a halt, as I do my best to limp my way forward. Isaac is concerned and discusses the idea of bailing off the trail.

Foot pain aside, the idea sounds tantalizing to me. It’s in this moment that I realize how much harder this whole experience has been. So much harder than I thought. I’ve never been so cold, tired, hungry, sore and miserable in my life. We have lots of great moments where we summit a mountain together, or walk a ridge, or huddle in our tents, or celebrate in town. But the good moments are so often dwarfed by the miserable ones.

As if to prove my point, a storm suddenly comes in, and we find ourselves caught in the downpour. We’re quickly drenched, but stumble on for 4 hours to our intended campsite, with lightning ricocheting above us every minute. We make it to camp and set up in record time, the rain steadily dumping on us. Another dinner in the tent. But at least we’re able to quickly change and get warm.

My foot still hurts but the pain and the swelling are going away slightly. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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