Sunday, July 17, 2016

Day 33: Creek to Mile 765

Golden sunlight warms the meadow and sparkles in the leaves of the aspens. The meadows brim with wildflowers, as though nature has assembled a flash mob times for our arrival: purple harebells, red paintbrush, pure white lilies, yellow and orange sunflowers, lavender daisies, bright red fireweed, and many others. Elk dash away as we approach, including several smaller herds of mothers with calves and one male with a large set of antlers. 

The trail disappeared in the forest, although blue paint blazes on trees and rocks generally kept us on route. Blue blades of grass indicated that the paint marks are recent, but whether they were the work of the Continental Divide Trail Coalition or merely a benevolent graffiti artist we could not say. We tried to keep the marks in sight as we clambered over downed trees and attempted to avoid the thick undergrowth that tried to snare our ankles. 

The trail improved as we followed a series of well marked trails, forest service roads, and abandoned Jeep trails. Several of the usual water sources are dry, but the Rio Vallecitos is more than 10 feet wide and flowing well.

Late in the day we found an established camp, guarded by two bulls. Unfortunately, the camp had not been well cared for by the campers, ranchers, or hunters who previously used it. Discarded cans, an abandoned pair of shoes, and toilet paper combined with the abundant cow manure to make a very unappealing camp. We found a cleaner spot a ways off, only to discover, after our tent was set up, that our bovine neighbors had activities other than sleep on their minds. We laughed at their loud bellowing, grunts and shrieks, but were grateful when the noisy herd finally moved on. 

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