July 10: Day 22 (1828.2 – 1842.6) 14.4 miles
We thought we let ourselves “sleep in”, but nope, we still woke up with the sun. Not setting an alarm to get up and moving is great, but waking up at the same time we usually set an alarm is just WRONG, so we lingered a bit over breakfast. This hike was supposed to be “organic”, a no push miles, set loose goals (with food supply in mind of course) kind of thru-hike.
Our one and only goal today was get up and over Gun Sight Pass (10,158 ft.).
The moment we left where we camped, the slope ran uphill. But then every morning begins with an uphill. This one just happened to be a prolonged, 8 mile ascent, which isn’t so bad when you have lush flowering greenery and wildlife to keep you pleasantly distracted from your body’s “assignment”…climb.
We suprised a few deer and pronghorn with our presence. This caused them to pick another route to their morning sun. The trail climbed “gently” for the most part.
First through low sage brush and flowering wildflowers, then through inlets of dense pines and groves of *familial Aspens.
*Fun Fact: Aspen groves are connected by one root system. Their roots only go as deep as 12 inches, and extend outward whereupon, suckers (actual name) shoot off from the roots and emerge as new saplings, growing into full Aspens. A tapestry of interconnection.
Some recent trail work had been done to remove blow downs and repair boggy trail parts.
A sturdy bridge stretched over a robust creek. I crossed first and then Paul. As I looked back I noticed a CDT marker nailed to a tree on my right. I hadn’t noticed one when I had been facing (what we thought was) down trail.
This led us to check our Guthook app. Yup, after the bridge hard, I mean really hard, left. We would have missed it, as the trail seemed to continue straight. It did, but it wasn’t the CDT.
For most of the morning the trail essentially meandered up in elevation with occasional long switchbacks. However, when we were within 3-4/10ths of a mile from the pass the switchbacks disappeared.
It was a straight shot to the crest…in the mid-day sun. We should have studied elevation chart a little better, and maybe NOT “lingered” at breakfast. Even with our calves and lungs burning, the view from our “rest stops” was incredible.
We could see where we had been earlier that morning, and it seemed like a lifetime ago.
Over the other side of the pass opened a whole new chapter in our hike.
Rock strewn tread became soft and dusty. Our feet were dry, and if we wanted them wet, we’d have to arrange to get them wet. At our lunch break, we did just that. We rinsed our stiff, dust choked, socks in the creek as we soaked our hot and chaffed feet in the swirl of icy healing. Our tent, it’s fly and our sleeping bags were all spread out to dry in the bright sun.
The rest of the day was pleasant for the feet, calves and eyes. Although my left foot/calf were still “grumbling” to me about the climb. The colorful carpet of flowers, swaths of color, and “mindless” tread helped quiet the grumbling.
Here we would see our first wolf print. Better a print in the mud than a furry sharp toothed muzzle.
After crossing a creek we pulled off the trail. Tamped down the tall grass, and called it a day.
Oh ya. And one more thing. First toenail casualty.