I am currently sitting next to a fire trying to smoke out the black flies which rival those of the north east I experienced only a week ago. So far it’s working, but every now and then the occasional brave souls finds themselves on my ankle and annoys the hell out of me. Beginning a trail is always a mixture of feelings ranging from excitement to loneliness, from thrill to fear. Right now I feel very at ease and relaxed reading my book and enjoying the mostly clear sky that I haven’t seen all day.
I woke up from my stealth spot by the river in Durango this morning around 8 am and finished a few errands before catching an Uber to the trail head. The first few miles were luxurious with tons of people and mountain bikes out and about. I was thoroughly enjoying myself until around 1 pm when I heard my first crash of lightning. I was about seven miles in and had been skirting the mid-section of a Ridgeline for most of the day when the clouds started to darken to the east and rain slowly began to pelt my head. I finally pulled off trail and rain proofed my pack and torso when it started to really come down. There were a few strikes that cracked closer to me than I wished they would, but eventually the storm passed for a few minutes until another rolled over the ridge.
I didn’t stop much today or take many breaks. When the weather turned sour I just wanted to get to my camp spot and take cover. And that’s pretty much what I did. I got to the creek I’m at now around 3:30 pm and immediately set up my shelter in just enough time before a small hail storm blew through. I learned quickly about camping on muddy ground and how rain will splash mud on your sleeping set up even though you have a shelter. My bivy got covered in mud specks as well as my pack and face.
Finally the rains stopped and the sky opened up allowing me to step out, make dinner and rinse off before getting ready for bed. I believe I’m really going to love this trail and the many different types of experienced that wait ahead for me. Tomorrow I plan on doing another shorter day to continue warming up my legs for this hike. I’m just really hoping for a thunderless day, but I don’t think I’ll have many of those in the Colorado Rockies.