When I woke up at 3:50am, I could see the flashing of distant lightning and eventually the sound of distant thunder. It was clear a storm would arrive by the time I could get packed up, so I decided to sleep in until it had passed.
It took most of an hour for the rain to start, and I got in a little more uncomfortable sleep. But little did I know that that first storm would be followed by 5 more in sequence, with never more than a half-hour respite in the rain or hail between them. I did as much packing and prep as I could do from under cover of my rainfly, including wiping up all the water that had gotten inside during the storms. Then I just watched some videos I had downloaded to pass the time.
Finally, during the 9 o’clock hour, there was a long enough cessation of rain to get the tent down and everything packed without getting soaked. No sooner had I gotten my rain gear on and started hiking, a little after 10, than it started hailing again. With the cold wind blowing over those rocky hilltops, I very quickly lost feeling in my fingers and had to pull them into my Packa sleeves. It barely helped.
A mile down the trail, the hail had stopped, the rain lightened. I passed Cliff and Lost sitting beside the trail looking a little bit soaked and muddy. They indicated they were planning to do the road walk detour to Steamboat Springs to try and get to Mt. Elbert (some 365 miles sobo from there) before the snows came. I wouldn’t be seeing them in the Zirkels. At my pace, I don’t have much hope that Elbert will be safe to climb by the time I would pass it.
Anyway, they must have chased me over the rocky hilltops with indistinct trail for the next couple of miles as the sun finally came out and warmed up the day enough that I could feel my fingers again because as soon as I stopped to take my Packa off and put my hat on, they passed me never to be seen again. I wasn’t even trying to catch them. As I had lost most of the morning to waiting out the endless rain, I had given up hope of doing much more than getting into Colorado this day.
I took a nice break on a rock shaped like a chair a mile or so later. A couple of hours after that, I took my normal lunch break on top of a hill scattered with uncountable blowdowns. After losing the trail for a quarter mile following a missed turn and backtracking, I took my regular dinner two hours after that on the edge of a very boggy meadow.
I carried some water out of a nice stream there and climbed up to another meadow, where I scared off a dozen elk at very close range when I popped around a corner and they spotted me last second. They disappeared into the forest at light speed, but looked very elegant doing it. A while later, a half hour after sunset, I crossed the border into Colorado. There are five states on the CDT, and I had now hiked it in all of them. Bingo!
A third of a mile down the hill from there, I finally found a levelish spot with few enough rocks and tufts of high grass to pitch a tent on, and did just that in the dark. Shortly after getting everything that needed to be dry under the tent, the last rain of the day came through, a very light and pleasant affair accompanied by some strong, cold winds.
Colorado would seem to be a place with a lot of trees, a lot of blowdowns, high elevation (as I hadn’t been below 9000 feet all day just getting into it), cold winds, and temperamental weather. But the forecast for the next day indicated it would be sunny, clear, and ideal for making a few more miles.
Trail miles: 13.4
Distance to Steamboat Springs: ~88 miles