Day 116

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Thunderbolt Mountain to Lowland Campground
30 mi ::
1685 mi ::
Sunny, warm

I get a stiff hip from sleeping in a bumpy spot, but the cold, clear night under the stars is worth it.

Looking at my maps, I realize that my enthusiastic excursion up Thunderbolt Peak will cost me a few extra miles, as the official route descends south, then doubles back to the divide. I nearly decide to just head down to a forest road, but it doesn’t seem so far when I reach it, so I take the double-back. This keeps me on trail until I reach Leadville, an abandoned mining town of decaying log cabins and prospect pits.

I reach Cold Spring at lunch, an unusual spring right next to the divide. It’s fortunate for me, because I’ve come to believe that my filter is broken. It’s letting too much crap through to be working properly and this is a heavy grazing area for cattle. I drink all I can at the spring.

I’m thirsty again by evening, after many hot miles of forest roads. I stop at a creek and boil water for dinner, saving some for drinking.

There’s a lot of miles left to go to Lowland Campground, and I’m not sure I’ll make it today until I see Ann’s footprints by an arrow made of rocks at a junction. It gives me a strong determination to find her tonight.

I pass an active logging operation, still busy at nearly 8 p.m. They are ‘thinning’. The result is a sparse wood with piles of dead branches and debris between the trees. They look like bonfires waiting to catch, but I guess are supposed to be far enough apart to be fire-safe. I’m dubious.

At a junction I find a note from Ann, and by 8.30 p.m. I’m resting in camp with her. We hear ducks calling nearby as the light fades.

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