Day 21: CT

Mileage: 31.2

Each day leading up to the end of this trail seems to be getting more and more difficult, and more and more beautiful. From the second I left the Sawatch range and headed towards the San Juans the trail has opened up and stayed high in elevation. Today I knocked out a lot of miles with a ton of elevation gain and it was one of my favorite days on any trail I’ve ever hiked.

Tonight I am camping on an old yurt platform in an open meadow watching the sunset behind the mountains. The stars are already coming out and the sky is full of deep orange and pink. My body is exhausted, but not in a bad way. I feel proud to have made it this far today, making my final day on trail that much shorter and easier.

I woke up this morning about two miles from San Luis Pass and decided I would hike the 14er since it was only a mile and a half off trail. San Luis Peak is only a class one climb and only brings a little bit of steep hiking to the challenge. I was up and down within an hour because it was too cold to stay up there for long. I left my backpack and layers down at the pass not knowing it would be so windy and chilly at the summit.

When I got down from the mountain I started back up on the trail. The first ten miles of the day were an insane roller coaster with steep up and downs navigating me through the eastern section of the San Juan mountains. I saw a few moose grazing in a valley below me as I skirted the inside edge of one of the many ridges.

After the roller coaster climbs, the trail smooths out as it takes you through snow mesa, which is about a five mile long alpine meadow with small streams and lakes perimetered only on the north side by a small ridgeline.

The trail slowly makes its way down to a highway that leads into Lake City. My plan was to go into town and get some extra food that I needed for my last day on trail. I really didn’t want to take the road into town because I didn’t have much time left in the day and still wanted to hike 9 more miles into the next section. Amazingly enough a woman at the trailhead offered me some protein bars and let me pet her dogs for a while. This was enough to get me through the last day and brought any anxiety about going into town to a halt.

The last nine miles were incredible. I walked through more open meadows and passed by thousands of sheep. The trail brought slow uphills so I was able to make miles without too much exertion.

Eventually I made it to my yurt platform and jerry-rigged a way to put up my tarp on the wooden platform. It’s already pretty late and I plan to wake up around 4 am tomorrow in order to get done hiking before some storms roll in. I don’t think I go below treeline tomorrow so I’d love to be done with the trail and on my way down stony pass before any rain starts to come through.

I have a huge climb in the morning and in the final section will be doing some nasty roller coasters again. 25 miles left!

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