Three cheers for sunshine! After every section since entering the state having rain, it was amazing to have three days straight of warmer weather and full sunshine. I was beginning to wonder if I had been unknowingly transported to Washington. Not only does the sun improve my attitude and speed, but I can actually enjoy the above treeline stretches.
Salida to Lake City was some of the easiest trail in Colorado. While not the most scenic, it allowed us to make over 100 miles in three days. Following the mantra “make hay while the sun shines”, we’re modifying it to be “hike fast before the snow comes.” We’re also trying to finish the state before a long weekend for a wedding at the end of the month.
One thing this section did offer was wildlife. We saw more elk than we had since Montana including a bull with a rack wider than I am tall (sorry Justin). We also saw our second black bear of the trip. True to form it was running away by the time we spotted it.
On the last day the rolling hills turned back into rugged mountains. We took an alternate route and climbed San Luis Peak which is over 14,000 feet. We had to get at least one in. The rest of the day was spent going up and down next to the divide. Suddenly the trail emptied out onto a large mesa above treeline. The views were panoramic, but got monotonous fast. It reminded me of the Great Divide Basin, but only lasted five miles.
Today we are leaving town to head into the San Juan Mountains. They are one of the highly anticipated sections of the trail also the southern snow bookend. Making it through the next 180 miles means we beat the snow and are free to coast through New Mexico. Oddly our coasting speed isn’t much different than our fast speed. Maybe we only have two gears.