CDT Day 135: 19 miles / 30.5 km

CDT SOBO: Mile 2035.5 – 2054.5

Thursday August 28, 2019

Spring Creek Pass/Highway 149 (10,900′) – CT High Point (13,271′) – Camp (11,950′ )

With the internet connection restored to the town I woke super early this morning and worked on the blog. It was lovely and comfortable to sit up in bed drinking coffee and doing the updates. Hammer woke just as I was finishing. We are heading back on trail today but first we planned to have breakfast at a local cafe. During the summer months the town is home to a large number of Texans who holiday here. We are not sure how easy it was going to be to hitch back to Spring Creek Pass.

We had breakfast at the Lake City Cafe and while waiting for our order started a conversation with the table next to us, a father and son who just drove 13 hours from Texas to fish and hike here over the coming Labour Day weekend. The conversation was soon joined by 4 other hikers who were heading back on trail this morning. With breakfast finished and recommendations for a good section of trail to hike for 1 or 2 days, we said goodby and went back to finish packing. By 9am we checked out and walked a little way out of town. Just as we were approaching our spot by the road the 4 hikers were getting loaded into a pickup truck and were gone.

We stood by the side of the road with our sign. Most drivers were friendly and waved or indicated they were going a short distance. So that was encouraging. And within 15 minutes a car with a bike rack with mountain bikes stopped to give us a ride. So generous as they had to rearrange the backseat to fit us in. Betsy and Andy were our trail angels. They live in Boulder and were heading out to the Spring Creek Pass to cycle the Colorado Trail to Durango over this coming Labour Day long weekend. Betsy is a freelance journalist who writes about cycling and other outdoor pursuits. Both are keen adventurers who spend a lot of time outdoors. Andy had travelled to Australia before and by some strange coincidence was wearing a shirt with a Australian connection. We got such a laugh when we got out of the car. Hammer checked out their bikes and marvelled at the compact setup. It’s always a pleasure to meet new and interesting people. We said goodby, knowing they would pass us along the trail before too long.

We got back on trail around 10am, aiming to make it to our first water source in 19 miles.

The hum of grasshoppers accompanied us as we headed back out for our penultimate leg, 117 miles from Lake City to Pagosa Springs. From Spring Creek Pass we ascended 2,300 feet over 16 miles to the highest point on the Colorado Trail. Our packs were heavy being loaded with 6 days of food. So the first couple of hours felt hard and laboured. We soon got back into a hiking rhythm and slowly made our way up. Looking back towards the Pass as we slowly ascended, the Snow Mesa where we camped yesterday came into full view. The mountain ranges in front of us stretched as far as we could see. Such incredible geology.

It was interesting to see that grasses and other vegetation in sections of this part of the trail have already started to change colour. Wildflowers were mostly well past their peak and were turning to seed. Except for a few holdouts, it feels like autumn has well and trully begun. Even the industrious Pika were lining their nests in the tallus fields with piles of grasses.

The predicted clear blue skies did not eventuate. Patches of sunny blue sky were streaked with heavy bands of threatening looking grey clouds. And mid-afternoon, before we made the high point it started to rain. The rain quickly turned to slushy hail. Luckily it did not last long

We made the highest point on the CT late in the afternoon. Dark threatening clouds made it feel like it was much later in the day. From the highest point we descended past quite a few abandoned mines and followed the Lost Trail Creek valley for about 3 miles before reaching a tributary creek and finding a campsite. We had just finished putting up the tent as it started to rain and within what felt like minutes it was dark.