8 mi ::
643 mi ::
Once again we start the race to checkout time. We pile all the stuff we need to mail in my backpack and head to the Village Bean for another breakfast. Again Denise puts a big smile on our faces with her perfect cooking. A trip to the store and post office suck up the rest of the morning, and we get back to camp with 30 minutes to pack up.
Our camp is a mess, we have new gear for the mountains, and Ann’s sleeping bag hasn’t dried yet. Even so, we’re packed by 11:15 am. We stop in the office to apologize for being late. Linda, a local, is there chatting and offers us a ride up to the pass. We gratefully accept while munching ice cream bars.
It’s a gorgeous day, and Linda gets us up to the pass by noon. As we’re unloading I realize I’ve done something bad. In the rush to make checkout time I’ve left my walking poles laying in the grass at the campground. Another tribute to how we’ve been treated on this trip, Linda drives me back to retrieve them and then up the pass again.
At first the trail in Colorado seems a lot like New Mexico – we can’t find it. But then we see it, starting into the trees by a little cairn. It’s an actual trail, with tread and everything. Soon we even pass a sign with our trail number: 813. All this is new and exciting.
By the time we’ve been going a few hours we’ve forded Wolf Creek above two impressive waterfalls and are slogging through snow drifts in the trees. The trail continues climbing to an exposed ridge with great views and more drifted snow. Ann discovers to our dismay that her boots hurt her Achilles tendons no matter how loose she wears them. Eventually she switches back to her running shoes, and I promise to kick steps for her through any hard snow.
After dinner I impulsively bust out the rice crispy block, even though I’ve already consumed a snickers bar. Ann does also, but sans snickers. It’s cold and hard, and explodes into tiny sharp bits that scratch my palate as I chew them. Nonetheless, I’m almost powerless to stop biting into it. I nearly finish the massive hunk of marshmallow fiendishness.
At the end of our first day we have cold, wet feet on a cold, windy ridge. It takes some searching to find a spot free of rocks for the tent. We have great views, but it’s a little windy and exposed. The going has been slow and we haven’t walked as far as we wanted to. Ann makes her bed with high hopes that her sleeping bag got dry enough during our dinner stop.