Saturday, July 4 — Miles 360.4-376.7 (16.3 miles for the day)
There is no better feeling than waking to the sun on your tent. After a good night’s rest. In which you didn’t freeze all night long. Off to a good start!
It’s as if the horrible day that was yesterday never happened, and I feel optimistic about a brand new day today. You can’t even tell we slept through rainstorms all last night, other than the fact that our tent is utterly drenched. And in the morning light, it dries soon enough.
We’ve actually managed to get up early today and hit the trail by 8, beginning our 13 miles of climbing with a beautiful blue sky. We’re conversational this morning and I enjoy having some mental space to pray and connect with Isaac again.
We take our mid morning break at a stream where we make a new friend, Codex. He’s been having a rough couple days (brother, I can relate) and seems glad for the company, so we all hike together. It’s great to have a new friend to talk to.
We continue winding up, up, up. Around noon, we start to see some storm systems moving in. But we press on well over tree line, hopeful it will dissipate.
This was naive thinking. Within minutes, it starts to pour rain and the wind gusts with terrific force. The rain turns to hail that pelts us with painful bullets. And then it starts to thunder and lightning. We’re high up, we’re exposed, and I’m frankly terrified. Codex points down to a little knoll, and we hastily throw up our tent. All three of us hoist first our packs and then ourselves inside. We hunker down for an hour as the wind pounds, the hail continues to drive, and the lightning booms overhead. We try to make conversation, but can’t hear anything. The guys are fairly calm, but I’m shivering with cold and fear.
Eventually, the storm subsides and I feel sheer gratitude to be alive. We emerge to a soaking wet, white world. We still have miles to go to get off this mountain range so we stuff our soaking tent, put on every layer we have and take off.
After an hour or two of hiking in wet clothes and freezing temperatures, God sends us a MEGA gift in the form of a bit of sunshine. We take advantage by eating lunch and laying our tent out to dry.
Then we press on for the final climb of the day, which lands us at the very highest point on the Colorado Trail. It took a lot of effort to get to this point, and we’re so thankful we get to celebrate in the sun.
Then we proceed to descend down the other side. I for one feel thankful to be off this mountain, especially as the views open up to some stunning images of the San Juan mountains.
We proceed for a few more miles, making conversation and all of us reveling at how well the day turned out. To top it off, we find the best campsite at the base of our first climb for tomorrow. We eat a warm dinner and tuck into our (thankfully) dry tents, tired but grateful for surviving the day.
Blisters (Isaac’s haiku of the day)
So small an inconvenience.
Causes much trouble.