Miles: 12
Camp: CDT mile 895.5
Elevation at camp: 12000 feet

I woke up with nausea and a bit of a headache and assumed I was dehydrated. Yesterday was a bigger day than most in town, and I may have neglected my water consumption. Though, after drinking a liter of water with minimal improvement I wasn’t sure why I felt ill. I decided to go get something to eat and see if it helped, otherwise I was looking at a zero while everyone else moved on.

Wonderfully enough, food worked miracles. I guess I didn’t eat much yesterday either. After I ate a big breakfast sandwich at a cafe, I went back to the hostel to find Charge making his special french toast. He makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, batters it in eggs, rolls it in frosted flakes and fries it in butter. I split one with Freebird and then went to run my last few errands.

The guys had booked a 10 am shuttle back to the trail, but I just wasn’t ready to go. I also wanted to give them a head start so I could do some solo hiking for a change. Just as they were leaving, Uberdude and Cloud showed up and I hung out with them for a while. I started strattling the fence on whether I would zero or not and ultimately decided that I would try to hitchhike and decide after an hour or so.

As it turned out, I had a ride in less than 20 minutes. Baggins, JimmyB, Scorpion and Animal had squeezed into a ride but were kind enough to make room for me. When we got dropped off I hit the trail right away while they dallied.

The trail climbed up 1500 feet in the first 2 miles causing me to take lots of short breaks to breathe. I crunched numbers while I walked and hoped I could pull off a 15 mile day, partially because I’m trying to get back on schedule. I’m a couple of days behind and want to see how far I can push myself now that the snowy section is over.

After a few big climbs, I found a campsite near water. It is only 12 miles, but that is pretty great for starting at 2pm. I feel good about it and am not intimidated by the upcoming elevation profile. I may eat my words later, but currently feel strong and ready to make more forward progress. My pack is 8 pounds lighter after shedding snowshoes, ice axe, waterproof socks and my second base layers. It feels great and makes the pack so much easier to load/unload.

It has been a great day of hiking alone and camping alone for the first time since New Mexico. I love my friends, but I also came out here for solitude. I can’t hear what the trail is saying when there are constantly conversations going on. For once I can hear my own thoughts next to the flowing river and the night critters. I can make my own plans of how I want tomorrow to flow, timing out my day around whatever miles I want to accomplish. I can plan my arrival in the next town to be as efficient as possible without lingering too long. In, out and back on trail. Trail is where I want to be…and though I’m loving these Colorado mountain towns, I don’t want to get lured into vacation mode. I want to stay focused and immerse myself in this amazing experience before it is all but a memory. I’ll always want to go to town for food, showers and laundry. It is necessary, but this time spent in beautiful places is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Even if I came back it wouldn’t be the same, which is why I crave time alone, because it is easier to savor the moments without distraction. I am completely present.

Dinner: cous cous with refried beans, corn, jerky and salsa.

Looking back on the San Juans





So little snow!