Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 18: Ridge to Highway 114

We wound down through the trees, then began a gentle climb through golden meadows bursting with wildflowers. Although many days we see few other hikers, today we leapfrogged with three Colorado Trail hikers from Kansas City.

We stopped for lunch at Sargent's Mesa, a beautiful, high, grassy plateau surrounded by high mountains. Then, after a series of ridges and descents, we arrived at Razor Creek, a small trickling stream.

Although already 20 miles into our hiking day, when Sierra realized we were only ten miles from the trailhead, she was inspired and surged ahead with a burst of speed. I finally caught her in early evening, just five miles from the trailhead.

My father had planned to pick us up at the trailhead the next day, but Sierra was determined to hike on to the trailhead. We tried to call and get a message through, then hiked on.

Reaching Lujan Creek, I spotted something through the trees. Trail magic! As I sat in the comfy green camp chair and peered into the cooler I suddenly realized how hungry I was. String cheese, chocolate, and Fritos were among the many treats available.

I love hiking in the evening. I enjoyed the cool night air, the reddish glow of the last throes of sunset, the shiny reflection of a rabbit's eyes staring at us from the brush. Although the trail follows Highway 114 briefly to reach the trailhead, I took comfort in the wide, sandy shoulder and realized that the bright, penetrating beam of our headlamps made us very visible to oncoming motorists.

Excitement filled us as we spotted a white vehicle at the trailhead. Grandpa! But when we reached the trailhead we saw that the car was not his. Disappointed, we sat down to wait.

After a time we realized that our message must not have gotten through. Scouting around we found a flat, lumpy meadow. We set up our tent and crawled inside. A thirty mile day!

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