Twig Adventures

SOBO Day 76: Into the Cochetopa Hills

September 8th, 2019

Monarch Pass mm 1935.8 to mm 1960.3

Distance in miles: 24.5


It’s time to get back on the trail. I think 3 days off was maybe too much. My parents drive us up to the pass in the morning and we all say goodbye again. It hurts much less to part with them this time, knowing things are going well at home. I will see them again soon.

We head down the trail and for awhile, I’m in a funk. I feel sick from the car ride and somehow also a bit dizzy. How could I loose my fitness for the trail so quickly? I’ve felt better doing back to back to back 30’s than I feel today. Relentless is also feeling bad. His toe hurts and he has no energy.

I plod along and eventually am back to my normal pace. The trail is so great, gliding along the crest of the divide…it’s also called the Monarch Crest trail and is open to motorcycles and mountain bikes. Quite a few pass us throughout the day.

After an hour, a trail runner comes up from behind and when she passes, something clicks…I know her. “Do you know a Carol?” I blurt out and she turns around to say, “I am Carol!” Then she recognizes me and we have a good laugh. I met her 2 years ago just a few miles away from this same location. We were hiking up the Eastern Collegiate route towards the divide and ran into her while she was walking her dogs. We became friends on Facebook and now, almost like clockwork, we meet again by chance on the trail.We chat about upcoming trail adventures and she flatters me by detailing how much of her gear she patterned after my collection. Carol lives nearby in Salida and I make a mental note to come visit next time. I feel like a local running into people I know. I guess I kind of am a local, since Florence is right down the road. So great to run into you again Carol! A Colorado girl to the core, I love it!

The rest of the day passes quickly. We wind around the western flanks of Mts Chipeta and Ouray. The trail intersects Marshall Pass and then we climb a little to skirt Windy Peak. The clouds have moved in and it begins to rain. Fortunately there is very little lightning and my umbrella does a nice job with the rest.

The rain cools the surroundings considerably. We get to the last creek for about 14 miles and grab water to go. It’s so cool down in the valley, I can only stand to collect some water and keep hiking. It’s late enough that we should probably camp but I feel good and don’t want to be low in the valley, given all the rain and condensation. The trail climbs to Sargent’s Mesa, where there are a series of large open meadows…and lots of cows.

I think it would be nice to camp on the edge of a meadow and presently we find a good spot. It rains again on the way up but the aftermath makes for a spectacular double rainbow over the mesa. The evening glow from the rain clouds and sunset give the place a very ethereal look.  Too bad about all the dead trees.It’s dark by the time I get my tent pitched and I have to do everything else with my headlamp. The days are getting so short but at least the PCT already taught me how to do all my camp stuff in the dark, so I’m well practiced by now. We go to sleep listening to the elk bugling.

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