CDT mile 1104.5, miles hiked 23.4

James Peak summit

After yesterday’s brutal 27 miles and not arriving in camp until after 9 pm we slept for an hour and woke at 6 am.  I was quicker than usual packing up and wait he’s for the others to get it in gear before we took off.

We started off with a nice decent down to the river.  The trail was a series of switchbacks but it was nice to walk through a forest for a brief moment.  We stopped at the river to fill up on water and take a few minutes to clean ourselves and our socks.  After that we started what would be the last large climb for awhile up JAMES Peaks a 13’er which required 320 of climbing.  Buttercup took off and cheesy and I assumed our roles pacing one another up the climb.  3 miles up and we made tree line and the last stream.  We took a ten minute snack break and chatted about where I went to college.

James Peak

As we started back up two day hikers came down towards us, one was wearing a VA Tech hat and low and behold we went to school together and even hung with the same crowd, what a small world.  We continued our climb and eventually made the summit.  Buttercup was waiting for us and we talked about the rest of the day.  Cheezy and I pointed to the stream where we are now camped it was 23.4 miles in total but he wanted to do a 30-mile day.  We had a discussion about the fact we physically couldn’t do that, so he decided to push on his own and meet us at Grand Lake on Thrusday.

Coming down some snow on the ridge

With him gone we started on what we thought would be an easy ridge walks and then a descent.  The tail was stunning with wildflowers galore, but the trail is a loose term as we found ourselves walking cross country on a steep ridge.  It took us a while to make it to the next pass, Rollins Pass, and even though we were slow and the walking was tough we both agreed the views and the flowers made it worth it.

The next stretch of trail was up over Devils Thumb.  We had a threatening sky but decent trail.  The two of us do our best to move strong and we made the best time we could at that elevation yet, maybe we knew after it was done we got to go low for a couple of days.  We took in the last high alpine views and flowers and then started the deep descent to the valley below.

We made decent time getting down from Devil’s Thumb, the forest was thick with pines and luck with summer growth.  As we worked our way up a trail and young moose came out of the woods in front of me and then trotted up the trail.  I met a trail crew in their Camp that is building the trail for us to hike on, they were super cool and I was tempted to plop down for the night with them but I knew each mile I made today is one less towards Grand Lake tomorrow.

On our way to Devils Thumb via the High Lonesome Trail

So now I sit 26.2 miles from Grand Lake, I know I’ll make it for dinner in town, but it’s been nice to be out this long again.  Since NM we haven’t had a six-day stretch on the trail and it feels good to be out in the wilderness, and it will make that cheeseburger taste that much better tomorrow.

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