CDT 2021: Day 95, Razor Creek to Los Creek

I stopped an old man along the way

A wide view of the sky

Until yesterday and today, the trail through Colorado mostly followed a path above 11,000 feet. Now it has frequently dropped below 10,000 feet, and that's resulted in some notable changes in the scenery.

When the trail stayed above 11,000 feet, we could often see far into the distance because we were above or near the treeline. Those long views weren't possible yesterday and today unless the trail crossed a meadow, which it did several times.

DateFriday, July 16, 2021
WeatherPartly cloudy/hazy with temperatures from the mid-40s to mid-70s
Trail ConditionsSome early steep ups and downs, followed by long and easy ups and downs
Today's Miles18.4
Trip Miles1327.1

As I noted yesterday, the terrain's changing character didn't necessarily make the trail easier. There were no long, strenuous climbs as before, but many short ups and downs can be just as tiring.

Of course, a heavy pack filled with six days of food was also wearing me down. My pack weighed a little less today. That should have helped, but now I had a new reason to feel worn down.

The temperature was warmer at lower elevations. I especially felt that this afternoon while walking on exposed trail. A little cloud cover sometimes offered some relief, but not enough late in the day.

The CDT near Razor Creek

This morning was different in one more way when compared to the last several days. Everything in my tent was dry when I woke up this morning. That was a surprise because the temperature turned cold again last night.

Condensation is more likely to form when outside air is much colder than inside the tent. I kept my vestibule doors open overnight, and that must have helped.

A long view from a high elevation

The first five miles of today's walk included three short-but-steep climbs and descents. The second and third of these felt as if they went straight up and straight down. Perhaps the slippery, loose rocks on the trail made them seem steeper.

Though the trail went above 11,000 feet on these climbs, it just barely got that high. That wasn't high enough to be above the treeline. Still, there was one view of distant mountains where the trail went through a forest thinned out by mountain pine beetles.

The trail climbs through a forest

The last of this morning's three climbs was also the last time today the trail went above 11,000 feet. Beyond that was a long descent, with the next five miles dropping more than 1,600 feet.

An old man

A couple of miles into the descent, the trail joined a gravel road and followed Lujan Creek. Soon after I turned onto the road, I was surprised to meet a day-hiker. A gravel road isn't where you usually see day-hikers, especially one like him.

The man told me he was 90 years old. If that wasn't impressive enough, he added that he recently had open heart surgery. He was deservedly proud to say that, but his age and health weren't what he was most pleased about. He could barely contain his joy as he showed off his new backpack and trekking poles. They seemed to be novelties to him, and he was delighted to have them.

He confessed to me that he could only walk short distances, and when I heard that I almost laughed. What he said was obvious, and I found it remarkable he was here alone. Yet here he was, feeling uplifted by the fresh air and surrounding mountains.

I hope I am so fortunate as to enjoy a nature walk at age 90.

A stack of logs next to a gravel road

The trail continued down the road and past two or three large piles of logs. Large machinery was used to load one stack onto a truck. I presumed a logging company was trying to harvest as many trees as possible before they were killed by mountain pine beetles.

I caught up to Top O' and OldTimer when I found they had stopped to collect some water from the creek. I collected and filtered some too, then we walked together as the trail continued to gradually descend.

Colorado Highway 114

The gravel road ended at Colorado Highway 114, and the trail turned there to follow it for three-tenths of a mile.

When the trail turned from the highway, it continued along Lujan Creek again before turning to go upstream with Pine Creek.

Top O' and OldTimer walk down a road

We found a shady spot near the end of Pine Creek. The time was about 12:30 p.m., and we decided to stop there for lunch.

Soon after we started hiking again, the trail crossed the creek and began to climb. The asccent was smooth and mostly easy, except for a short steep section just before reaching the top.

Continuing down the road

We crossed a fence through a gate at the top of the climb. On the other side, the trail joined a forest road for a gentle descent. I happily followed it. Despite the warming temperature, it was an effortless footpath to walk. I mindlessly cruised along until I stopped abruptly at an unexpected sight.

A handmade sign announces trail magic ahead

A handmade sign said, "Trail magic ahead!" Could this be, I wondered? I've been disappointed before by signs like this that didn't fulfill what they promised. Yet this one looked new, so it hadn't been standing here long. I was hopeful.

The time was approaching 3:30 p.m., late enough that it seemed like a good idea to pick up my pace. I didn't want to take a chance and miss out on trail magic.

Patches and Peanuts

Sure enough, at the end of the mile, I found a canopy erected in an open field. A couple, Patches and Peanut, had set up a campsite there with chairs, coolers, and a grill. They were feeding hikers as the sign promised.

Patches and Peanut told us they thru-hiked the Colorado Trail last year. They decided during the hike to come back and help hikers this year. This spot was chosen intentionally because that was where the Great Divide Alternate joined the CT and CDT. Here, they knew they could feed not only hikers but also bike riders.

Hikers sitting under a canopy

That turned out to be the case today. Bike riders arrived while we were there.

Patches and Peanut offered us fresh fruit, chips, and grilled cheese sandwiches, plus soda and beer. If we wanted to camp nearby tonight, they said, they would prepare breakfast for us tomorrow. This was a tempting offer, but we decided we should continue hiking and add a few more miles to our day.

Top O' and OldTimer walk down a two-track road

We still intended to finish Colorado as quickly as possible and get back to hiking northbound to Canada. Nevertheless, we weren't in a big hurry. We stayed for more than an hour to enjoy the food and conversation.

We walked past the junction of the Great Divide Alternate when we finally left at 5:30 p.m. Though we left thinking we would walk farther, we stopped after about an hour when we found a good camping spot near Los Creek.

If we hadn't stopped for trail magic, we would have easily reached our goal of hiking 20 miles. The trail ahead for tomorrow looked favorable, so I hoped we could make up for the lost mileage then.

Tomorrow's hike will be easy, I thought, but I should have known better. No miles come easy in Colorado.

I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation
She's coming in, 12:30 flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation
I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say
"Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"

Comments

"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.