CDT Day 137: 21 miles /33 km

CDT SOBO: Mile 2075.0 – 2096.0

Saturday August 31, 2019

Camp (11,920′) – Hunchback Pass (12, 500′) – Vallecito Creek (11,500′)- Nebo Creek (11,600′) – Pass (12,500′) – Twin Lakes – (11,800′) – Pass (12,600′) – La Vaca Creek (10,800′)

A whispy band of cloud clung low on the horizon in the predawn light. We broke camp and were on our way towards Hunchback Pass as it started to get light. It was a very still and silent morning. I really miss hearing birdsong in the morning. Sunrise illuminated the peaks as we neared the pass.

From the Pass we started to descend into a very tight and dark looking Vellicito Creek valley. The surrounding mountain peaks looked like they were of different geological formations pushed up together. It was very dark and cold in the valley. It will be hours before sunshine would penetrate here. We turned away from the valley and headed up towards a pass. It was almost 3 hours from leaving camp before we felt sunshine on our skin. We had climbed up a pass, descended down a creek valley and hiked up another pass.

Breakfast at the top of this second pass was sensational. We were in sunshine and the view of Mt Nebo, and the lake below it, was awe inspiring. While waiting for Hammer, I stood at the top of the pass and closed my eyes, it was so perfectly silent and still. It’s the closest I’ve come to experiencing an isolation tank feeling while outdoors. It was such a spectacular location. We stopped for breakfast and found it hard to leave.

From the pass we were walking in sunshine to the ruffle sound of a flowing creek, through a wide open valley. Most unusual rock formation was on the distant horizon ahead of us, a square cut Window on the ridgetop, a part of the Rio Grande Pyramid formation. Little did we know that but by late afernoon we would hiking just below the Rio Grande Pyramid and the Window on the other side.

By mid- morning clouds had gathered and the wind picked up particularly on the higher ground. We spend most of the day winding our way above and around wet boggy valleys with tarn lakes, through thick stands of willow overgrown on the trail. Hammers legs were shredded and he was finding it slow going and very frustrating.

We took an early lunch break to mentally reset before attempting to go through more of the overgrown trail. After lunch we met up with 3 northbound section hikers who confirmed that there was more scratchy willow covered trail up ahead.

We had one more pass to negotiate in the afternoon before we descend to La Vaca Creek. While not overly long it was very steep. The clouds which had been gathering all afternoon dropped a little rain while we were climbing the pass. We reached the top of the pass which was part of the Rio Grande Pyramid ridgeline. Dropping over to the other side we were like kids in wonderland, craning our necks to take it all in. We were surrounded by such incredible and varied rock formations. The most amazing of which was the Window on the ridgetop.

We sat by a creek to have our dinner, gazing up at the Pyramid and the Window. Our dinner was a peanut butter tortilla with prunes. It was so delicious and with the most incredible view above us.

We could have sat and gazed at the incredible ridgelines surrounding us but the shadows were growing long. We had a steep and slippery descent from here until we reached a big meadow. We stopped and camped short of the meadow. Hoping to have a milder night then at a campsite closer to the huge creek which flows through the meadow.