Day 16 of the Colorado Trail

August 5

13.9 miles

So much for being able to sleep hard! Rodents bothered me all night long! First, they were running up to the corners of my tent and I had to bat the sides and tell them to go away. Then, a persistent animal tried chewing through my Ursack. I would call out to it to stop, it would take a break, then start back up again- all night long! For the first time on this trip, I got out of my tent to pee in the middle of the night. It was 1 am and there were a few stars out, but it was mostly cloudy. The moon was pretty bright, though.
By sunrise, the rodents had scampered away, leaving only traces of their efforts visible in the chewing marks in the bag and cord. They had failed to get any of my food. It was cold again (41 degrees) and I huddled in my sleeping bag and snacked.
By 7:30, I was back on the trail and ready to climb again. Thankfully, it was not as steep as the night before.
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Nearing the top of the climb (with about 300 feet to go), I heard a noise that sounded like an owl or some other kind of animal. Then, it sounded like a human voice. I didn’t know where it was coming from. Then it sounded almost as if the voice was saying, “Somebody, help me.” Oh, no…! Did someone fall off the mountain? I looked down the slope and didn’t see anything. But with the gravelly, chalky terrain, I could imagine how it would be easy to slip off the trail. Then again, maybe it was just some kids messing around with each other at the top of the mountain. I decided to proceed to the top and see if anyone was up there. There was no one. I felt horrible. What if I had just walked by someone who needed my help? My labmates made me carry a personal beacon search and rescue locator because they were worried about me being alone and unable to help myself if something bad happened. Maybe I was actually carrying this for someone else! I turned on my phone so I could call someone in my lab and have them contact the forest service. There was no reception… I would have to hope that someone else was climbing the mountain behind me and would hear him, or that someone was hiking towards me, who I could alert.
About an hour later, I met a man and woman hiking toward me. We said hello and I told them the story and that I felt bad. They assured me that they would check it out and that I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it, anyway, all by myself. They said that when you are out here alone, you are responsible for yourself. (If you are hiking with someone, you are responsible for each other). The man jokingly said, “I’ll send Stacey down to check it out.” We ended up chatting for a bit. They said that if I wanted water, I should go see Daniel- the crazy mountain man with the huge beard, who was possible not mentally well, but liked to talk. “Isn’t there water down there?” I asked.
“Yes, but if you don’t want to filter it, we paid him to go into town and bring back spring water for us last night. There is some left over.”
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I hiked down to the bottom of the hill and filtered water from the creek (I didn’t want to deal with Daniel). I crossed the road, saw his tent, and quietly walked by. I hiked along the ridge for awhile.
There was another creek with running water across another road at mile 9. I don’t like staying around loud water because I can’t tell if there is anyone else nearby. I stopped to have lunch and filter more water, and sure enough, only several feet away, but out of sight from where I had stopped, 2 guys were setting up camp. They weren’t very friendly.
For the rest of the day, I saw only 2 mountain bikers. The next climb consisted of switchbacks, which weren’t too steep. The terrain was once again arid and chalky. I walked along a ridge for awhile. It rained for about 15 minutes and there was a bit of thunder. I couldn’t tell what mile I was at.
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I came to another creek at 3:20, collected and filtered water, and walked across some logs. I had no idea if I was at mile 14 or 15.9, but I knew the road started at mile 17 and that there was no place to camp after that until well after the hot springs. So, I decided to stop there. It was the earliest end to a hiking day for me, and after setting up my tent, I kind of wondered what to do! I was so happy that I had cell service! I heard the sound of a text and saw that my Swiss friend had written me. And I also had a voicemail! I listened to it and heard mostly static and then a voice with an accent that I recognized in the background, asking if I could call him! I thought that was a funny thing for him to do, but also sweet that he was worried about me! Apparently, he thought I had told him that I would reach the Hot Springs, where we could talk, in 2 hours- not 2 days, and not hearing from me, tried to reach me in ways he never does! 🙂
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I was going to sit on a rock and look over tomorrow’s terrain at 6:30 pm, and immediately, it starts sprinkling! Unbelievable! Back to my tent, it is!
I hope the rodents leave my food bag alone and let me sleep tonight!

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