I didn’t sleep well again. It was warm and toasty in the shelter even as the wind roared around the building and made the radio antenna creak back and forth outside, and even the mice stayed put in their holes. But I woke up after less than four hours of sleep. And two hours of uncomfortable dozing later, my roommate awoke, ready to get going.
I was blocking the door, and I figured he would need to pee, as I did, so I got up too and folded up my mattress. I went, he went, I went back to take a picture of the sunrise sky, and then I started my water filtering again back inside. When Ted (as I learned his name was) got going a bit after 7, I moved my mattress to the other side and crawled back inside. After hopping online to stream a TV show, I started feeling sleepy enough to sleep half the day away, but obviously I couldn’t do that. So I started packing in earnest and left to descend the mountain about 9:40.
I kept all my warm underwear and jacket on until I had descended far enough, a mile or so, to be out of the cold wind and starting to overheat. I stopped only an hour into my day to remove layers and put on sunscreen.
It was a mostly easy hike as far as the road. Then there was an intense climb up to a ridgeline. Not far along that, I entered a recent burn zone, and the trail was littered with blowdowns for about a mile. Down the front side of the mountain, the blowdowns were cleaned up, and I reached a nice stream, still in the burn zone, and took a long lunch in which I filtered an entire bag of water.
After working my way around to Trout Creek and climbing up beside it for a while, I stopped to chat with Cheer and Snickers, who were doing the Colorado section nobo. They told me there was a lot of snow and blowdowns coming up. They made out like it would be really bad and shouldn’t be done in the dark. But it wasn’t.
There was nothing of note in the next two miles before I stopped for supper. And then it was still another mile of clear sailing after that when I started getting the annoying blowdowns that couldn’t be circumvented or stepped over. It was dark, but they weren’t that bad. I crawled under two obstacles and stepped over one with a minor knee scrape. There were maybe two more that required some athletics to get over it under and a couple more that required clever detours. And all this was spread out over a couple of miles. Not enough to seriously slow me down.
By the time it was 9:40 at night, twelve hours since I started, I was at a wide open meadow 2 miles shy of Bowen Pass, which I had wanted to get over today, but I guess I took too long at lunch and chatting. Either way, I didn’t want to maintain the late hiking schedule of the previous night, and it seemed like a nice place to stop that would have a lot of sun on the morning to help me get an earlier start. It was cold, sure, but not windy, and it was not going to be as cold a morning as it had been earlier in the week. Sleep by 11 this time.
Trail miles: 14.4
Distance to Grand Lake: 34.9 if I get a RMNP permit.