Continental Divide Trail – Day 43 (42 miles)
Today was up there with one of the hardest days of hiking I’ve ever done on a long trail. I was absolutely exhausted as I headed up to Ann Lake Pass, the last climb for the day. It was a solid 2,500ft (750m) climb, with the last half fairly steep. All I could do was concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other in order to ignore my impulse to stop and rest.
I chose to do this type 2 fun in my seemingly naive attempt to complete the rest of Colorado in 12 days. Actually I did thoroughly enjoy myself until this last climb when I hit the wall. I spent the day wandering almost exclusively above treeline in the Collegiate Wilderness, which I think is the most beautiful section of Colorado to date and only rivaled by the Gila River to date on the CDT. Passes, alpine lakes, meadows, glacial valleys – it had everything you want in a hike.
I got up before dawn in order to make my planned miles. My plan was to push hard today and tomorrow and then I could go at a more steady pace for the remaining 10 days. Good in theory, but I kind of underestimated hiking near 12,000ft (3,500m) all day.
I walked straight through until 2.30pm. By this stage I was just starting to feel symptoms of fatigue so I stopped for one of my favorite things, a 20 minute power nap. I am always amazed how much just shutting my eyes for a few minutes rejuvenates me. By this stage I had competed 2 out of the 3 climbs of the day and the rollercoaster ridgeline – I just had Ann Lake Pass to complete.
At the top of the pass I was confronted with two things – a snow cornice and Medic and Bourbon just below it. I picked up a handful of snow and tossed it into the air just in front of them as a hello. They were a bit confused at flying balls of snow until they saw me (I later found out Medic’s first reaction was that the cornice was collapsing, my bad…). I quickly made my way around the vertical snow and soon caught up with them. I gave up on walking to the bottom of the valley and instead made my way to the treeline to camp, talk and enjoy the golden setting sun casting its rays on the rocky crags above.
I was tired and camped with them.