Day 63

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East Fork San Juan River to Weminuche Wilderness boundary
14 mi ::
707 mi ::
31,658 steps ::
Sunny, windy

I get right into the car camping gear for breakfast and make coffee, eggs stuck to the pan, and toast. Ann comments about how quickly I’ve adapted. It’s hard to say goodbye, so I stay busy packing up until it’s time. After a tight hug I’m off, walking up the forest road on my own.

I don’t make a very impressive start. I can’t find the trailhead I want anywhere, so I just start bushwhacking over a ridge towards Silver Creek. I don’t even have a topo map of this area, and I hope I’m not starting out foolishly without Ann here to question me. The steep climbing feels good though, and when I reach the creek the trail is there. I may never know where it really starts.

The day is hot, and I’m almost eager to get up into the snow and wind. With only a few stops to gaze at the variety of wildflowers I push to Silver Pass and the CDT. Sitting down there for lunch I look at the map and realize Wolf Creek Pass and US160 is only 8 miles away, much closer than I thought. I may have to wait there until Ann comes tomorrow.

There’s not as much snow as I expected, probably because the side of the ridge I start up is slightly south-facing. Just before I reach the ski area it changes sides, and I do have to slog through some snow there. Then the trail climbs to the top of the ridge. The snow isn’t bad up here either, but it’s viciously windy. I use one pole almost sideways to stay standing in strongest gusts.

My muscles suddenly start to ache, and I need a rest. I realize I won’t start right off with a 20-mile day at least.

There’s a bit of a cellphone signal, so I call Ann. It turns out to be very hard to communicate with the weak signal and strong wind. I think I manage to convey that there is no emergency, but I’ll be at Wolf Creek Pass in 2 hours instead of tomorrow.

I make it to the pass in an hour and a half, but I feel beat. Too tired to answer people’s questions, I sit behind the giant CDT display. Soon Ann shows up. It’s nice to see her, and I ask if she’ll have dinner with me. She’s already eaten, but hangs out.

I try my stove with the glued potstand in the parking lot. It clearly needs a windscreen. When I put one around it, the glue starts burning and emitting noxious smoke. I decide to carry the old stove until I get a functional potstand.

Ann makes me dessert with bread, ladyfingers, and Nutella. I see she has the mixings for margueritas and I ask for one of those too. She thinks I’ll be sorry, but whips one up for me.

I watch Ann drive away down the pass, then start up the trail again. It’s good, dry tread climbing up the ridge here. I reach a saddle as the sun is setting, and pitch my new shelter for my first night out alone.

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