Miles: 16

Camp: Fraser, CO off my CDT mile 1140.2

Elevation: 8573 feet
The wind was so intense last night that I had to put in my earplugs to try and get some sleep. It went okay as I managed to feel decently rested upon waking. Making breakfast was a bit of a challenge in the wind, but packing camp was worse. I had set myself up in a sort of bowl so the wind wasn’t as bad close to the ground, it was standing that really got things pushed around. When I unstaked my tent it immediately turned into a parachute and I had the darndest time getting it put away. I had to fight with the wind and try to stay low in order to get it done without losing my tent forever. 

After getting things packed away I began my 16 mile day to Berthoud Pass. I already knew which restaurants I wanted to eat at and I was excited to see my old roommate Louise. As I pondered my game plan for the visit, the wind was fiercely blowing against me. I had to push forward with everything I had to make it up the climb to the ridge. The wind was so intense I soon found I couldn’t breathe. It was asphyxiating me and I had to put my buff over my face in order to catch a breath. As a result I grew nauseous and actually dry heaved a little. I was very uncomfortable, par for the course in this section. I eventually found my rhythm, often pausing behind rocks as a wind break so I could pee or drink water.

After about 10 miles on the ridge I ducked down into a bit of a valley and paused in the still air. It felt amazing to stand still with no wind assaulting me or my ears. It’s the little things that can make a day and this was certainly one of those moments.

I had a few more run ins with the wind as I climbed another ridge, but the worst of it seemed to have been in the early morning. It made the rest of my miles pretty easy to finish as I made my way to Berthoud Pass. Within 10 minutes of reaching the pass I had already scored a hitch down to Winter Park. I haven’t spent time in this area since winter 2014 and it was so strange seeing it so green and full of people in shorts instead of ski gear. It is a whole different world coming in off trail…but The Ditch was still there and I immediately went in for a reuben and a beer.

Squirrel and Handstand were in town and they had equally rough times in that last section. Handstand actually had his sleeping bag blow away in the wind…it sucked it right out of his tent and blew it away along the divide. He had no hope of retrieving it and is in town withing for a replacement. He had been on a much more exposes ridge the night before and we all learned something about that.

In town I caught up with LB who made the trip up from Denver today. We had some hot wings and beers at the pub, after which I caught up with Louise at her apartment. She lives in the same building but in a different unit, kind of twilight zone like…because everything was so familiar and foreign all at once. She made us a wonderful dinner of grilled salmon, veggies and a spinach salad. Louise and I always made healthy meals together and I was thrilled to eat a home cooked meal with her and her boyfriend Ryan. It has been such a lovely visit. Now I get to relax in the guest room all to myself…Boy am I blessed!

Heading out tomorrow afternoon after a quick resupply and breakfast at Sharky’s! It’s going to be hard to leave, but Grand Lake is next and I get to see family there, plus a potential visit from Tickled Pink. All is well on the divide…and boy am I happy to be done with that section! I knew it would be one of the harder ones, and it lived up to that…but now for some  very welcome gentler terrain.

Who goes there?