Miles: 20

Camp: My CDT mile 1124.2

Elevation at camp: 12270 feet

In my haste to set up camp last night, I managed to put myself on a nice little slope. I ended up finding myself crammed against one side of the tent, not really getting a good night of sleep. When I did sleep I had a dream that I had a cat that went hiking with me. It was pretty cool, though I wish I could remember it’s name.

The day started kind of as expected, climbing up to the ridge so I could summit Greys-Torreys. It was sunny and warm, but clouds were collecting in the distance already. It was a slow climb up to the ridge, and then more of that 11,500-13,500 dancing on the divide. It was taking a long time and was definitely exhausting. This section is certainly taking a toll on me, but man it is beautiful and as always, worth it.

As I did my dance up and down the peaks of the divide, I watched as storms began building in the distance. As I moved closer to Greys-Torreys, the storms moved closer too. By the time I reached my final summit before hiking up Greys I had determined that it may not be a good idea today. It began hailing on me and I still had a steep rocky peak to get up and over before I could even attempt to get down the mountain, let alone up.

I made the climb as the hail stopped, but I could see more storms waiting to come through. I was just .4 miles from the summit of Greys Peak, already at 14,000 feet. I sat down and ate a pro bar while contemplating that fact. The sky was dark and I didn’t know what to do. I know that summit fever is what gets people in trouble, but I also didn’t want to waste an opportunity to climb a 14er that was literally in arms reach. Then it started snowing, hard. I looked ahead and saw the sky whited out and I no longer had to think about it. It wasn’t my day. I am a thru hiker, not a peak bagger…and I just didn’t want to compromise myself, even as I watched people continue to climb the mountain in the poor weather. My heart tugged in both directions and my body moved down the trail. I passed the people coming up and knew I was doing the right thing for me, I’m not a lemming and I don’t have summit fever. The peaks are a side trip, so I wasn’t missing the CDT which is my real goal. Next summer I can hang out in Colorado and climb all of the 14ers if I want to, but this summer in hiking from Mexico to Canada and that was that. The summit fever was there and it taunted me, but I have no regrets in the end. This section has been challenging enough without regret adding to the mix.

After making it down the mountain in pretty consistent rain, I felt okay about my decision. It also felt really good to be walking down a dirt road instead of on ridges. I haven’t been this worn out from hiking in a long time, and I didn’t make much progress either. I suppose I would have given myself more time in this section had I known it would be so time consuming, but I’m happy to be moving forward.

I made it down to I-70 where I had to walk by the freeway for 4 miles. I was on a bike path away from the road, but I could hear it quite well. It was the perfect excuse to pop in my headphones and drift along with music. It was such a change from the last couple of days and I actually made good time. I ended up getting to my planned camping spot early, so I went a little farther to save time tomorrow. I go into Winter Park tomorrow, a place I once lived and worked. I’ll be staying with my old roommate for the night before moving on to Grand Lake and I’m excited to spend a night in my old stomping grounds. I’m especially excited for Sharky’s, my favorite breakfast spot in the area. It’s going to be a short but sweet visit. For now I’m going to watch the sun set and go to sleep on nice flat ground. I’m beyond sleepy…I can’t wait to sleep.

Dinner: cous cous with chicken, coconut oil, garlic, bacon, cheese and salsa.

The storm that made the decision for me

Fields of columbine

Part of the ridge I walked to Greys (before the storms)