Day 4 — Settling In

Tuesday, June 30 — Miles 316.8-331.6 (14.8 miles for the day)

Once again we wake around 7, sans alarm. We lay in the tent and I read my Kindle for almost an hour. We’ve agreed to a slower start intentionally, as the day ahead feels manageable.

Once again we make coffee and enjoy it with some breakfast bars. And then we pack and head out close to 9.

Once again we start with a brisk but brief climb and then spend a few miles rolling through the open expanse of the hills around us.

We stop to filter water at a stream, and then pound out our last major climb for the day. The trail takes us through some beautiful aspen groves, which provide a nice respite from the grueling sun.

At the top we pause to savor the views (and a few snacks), before plunging down a trail as steep as the one we just came up.

After our descent, we emerge in a stunning valley and begin to follow the Cochetopa River for the remainder of the day. The scenery is so expansive, it makes me feel quite small and insignificant (perhaps not a bad thing in our “me” generation).

We cross paths with a northbound Continental Divide Trail (CDT) hiker who set out from the Mexican border just a month ago. He’s hiking at breakneck speed and intends to hit the Canadian border in 100 days. We’re duly impressed by his athleticism and wish him well on his adventure.

We hike on and stop for a lengthy lunch break at the river. This includes filtering water, soaking our feet, doing a little sunbathing, and even a sip of tequila. We haven’t yet had enough time for such a fun lunch break, and I’m so glad we took it today.

From there we cross the river and keep winding up the valley. Around this point I develop a nasty blister on my pinky toe (pretty sure the nail will be a goner), and my pace becomes agonizingly slow. Isaac is patient and encouraging, but the pain is fierce and it takes me waaayyyy to long to finish out the last few miles of our day.

At last we reach our intended campsite around 5:30. The best part is that it’s creekside—our first night without dry camping. We soak in the water some more, tend to our aching feet, get camp set up, and fix dinner.

Blisters aside, today was another great day on the trail. We’re feeling stronger and enjoying the hike—definitely settling into our new off grid rhythm. I can already feel the benefits of slowing down and eliminating technology and the demands of work. But even better, I’m loving this increased space to connect with Isaac and with God. Overall, we’re both extremely thankful to have this opportunity.

Isaac’s haiku of the day:

Lush trees for miles.

Mountains loom at ev’ry turn.

It makes me feel small.

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