Monday, July 14, 2014

Day 35: Trail Creek Camp, CO to Green Mountain Junction, WY

We fell asleep to a herd of elk calling to each other as they grazed in the meadow below, and woke to a chorus of birds singing, chirping, and clucking near our tent. 

A small, scruffy, brown bear cub, about the size of a golden retriever, loped across the trail and disappeared into the woods. Although the cub seemed too young to be out on his own, if the mother was around she stayed carefully hidden from sight. 

Plip, plop, plip, plop. The rain drizzled from the sky. We pulled out our rain jackets and soon were steaming inside. Colorado's parting shot. Balancing the rain, fields of bright red paintbrush and purple lupine lined our trail, reminding us of Colorado's incredible beauty. 

We decided to eat lunch at the Colorado Wyoming state border. Both of us got quite hungry as the morning progressed, and became increasingly anxious to reach the border. When the Wyoming State Line sign finally came into sight, Sierra sprinted for the border chanting "food, food, food, food!"  We walked over the line together, and cooked lunch in Wyoming. 

We waded through a muddy bog with waist high swamp grass, the first of several bogs and swamps we would squish through over the course of the day. 

"Left on trail at intersection." The data book proclaimed.  Uncharacteristically, a CDT sign marked the intersection. But in true CDT style, no trail existed. Instead we played hide and go seek with a series of rock cairns, posts, occasional CDT signs, and blazes carved into trees. 

When we finally reached a section of trail, it was choked with blowdowns. We repeatedly climbed over and around the downed trees. Pine bark beetles scrabbled down the corpse of a downed tree as I climbed over it. 

We reached rough, reddish, cliff-like rock formations. Sierra immediately dropped her pack and began to climb. 

Continuing to follow cairns, poles, and other trail markers, we climbed to a high, flower-filled meadow on ridge. Two creeks poured down from neighboring ridges, joined, then continues cascading down the mountain.  Climbing onto a higher ridge, we began seeing glacier lilies in the meadows. 

The wind picked up, and we quickly added layers. Just in time!  The rain started, blowing sideways against us as we attempted to navigate our way from cairn to cairn along the ridge. We crunched across snowfields and navigated around rocks and trees as we hunted for the next cairn or post. 

Thunder rumbled in the distance as we finally found camp in a grove of trees below the ridge.  Flashes of lightning illuminated our tent as the storm raged on the ridge above. Large drops splattered on the outside of the tent, but the storm quickly passed through. 

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