09/28-29/2012
Colorado Trail Segments 18 21. Highway 114 to Spring Creek Pass (highway 149)
62.2 miles, 10,900 ft
Me, Eric, Guy, and John

Day 1: Highway 114 to Eddiesville TH. 27.5 miles, 2880ft. 10.5hrs.
Day 2: Eddiesville TH to Spring Creek Pass. 34.7 miles, 8020ft. 15hrs.

Link to pictures

Quote of the weekend by John, "The more it sucks, the more fun it is. Its great when all of those coping mechanisms surface".

After last years Colorado Trail fun-fest, this trip was going to be a little lower key. John picked me up Thursday evening and we met Eric and Guy at the Eddyline Brewery in Buena Vista for some dinner and pints, where I discovered that my CamelBak was leaking all over my pack and clothes. It was 1am when we finallyCT2012-15.JPG (329368 bytes) got to Spring Creek Pass after nearly creaming several deer and even and owl. We  just set up our tents near a picnic bench and crawled in for a chilly nights sleep in the 28 degree temps after Guy tried to brush his teeth with sunscreen instead of toothpaste. Apparently the beer and green chili/pepperoni pizza didn't quite agree with me and I had to run out of the tent at 3:30am. I think I slept for a total of 2hrs while listening to elk bugling before the 6am alarm went off. Everything was icy and we were all packed up and on the road again by 7am, leaving a car there. Despite a rough night, the drive was pretty with all of the aspens glowing yellow. We made a quick stop in Gunnison then arrived at our start around 9:30am. Its always a minor victory when we all get to the same trailhead. John won the big pack award, I won the small pack award, Guy won the pack-at-trailhead award, and Eric won the bring-along-a-broken-tent-pole award. Despite the not so stellar forecast, the skies were blue and it was warming up. Most of the first section was double-track through large meadows and aspen groves with just minor up's and down's. We cruised along easily chatting and laughing away while going through CT2012-22.JPG (207148 bytes) ranchland without a person, vehicle, or house in sight. Just for fun we described all distance in "score" and "score clicks".
The first ~14miles disappeared in 4hrs and 20mins while we debated about getting affectionate with a cow or monkey, and why. After a snack break we continued on going through several "aspen tunnels" with the ground covered in yellow leaves. Awesome! After ~20 miles we finally got to our first water re-fill spot. It felt great to chug a quart of ice cold water and dip our feet in. We followed the stream for a bit, crossed a couple beaver ponds, then started climbing towards the end of our first day. We finally crossed the border for the La Garita Wilderness, Eric was really looking forward to this since he had to bypass the wilderness when he mtn biked the Colo Trail years ago. We discussed the finer points of mermaids and what it would take to become a mermaid-ologist. We arrived at the end of Segment 19, Eddiesville TH, after about 9hrs just as it was getting dark and decided to press on for a couple more miles to hopefully make Saturday easier. We could hear coyotes howling on the surrounding ridges and after an hour we found a great spot near water yet slightly above the valley for a little extra warmth. Eric and Guy did some tent-pole repair, John setup his GoLite teepee (impressively light and roomy), while I boiled water for our meals. It wasn't long before we inhaled our dinners and crawled into the tents around 9pm. 
I slept for a solid 9hrs and woke up feeling great. After breakfast and packing, we were on the trail again around 7:30am. The views were outstanding withCT2012-29.JPG (253713 bytes) more and more peaks coming into view as we gained altitude. After a couple miles we re-filled our water bladders and headed higher. We were definitely moving slower then the day before and had a ton of elevation to gain. Organ Mountain dominated the view north and the 12,600ft San Luis saddle was our first objective. Once we got there after about 3hrs it was an easy decision to go up 14,014ft San Luis since it was just 1.3miles and 1400ft away. Eric bet me a 6-pack to race to the top and we took off immediately while Guy and John took the wiser casual stroll. It wasn't long before my heart rate was red-lined and I got to the summit in just 29mins, 4 mins ahead of Eric. We took in the views for a bit then headed down since the wind was quite chilly. Took us 50mins roundtrip and we relaxed and ate at the saddle while waiting for John and Guy. Lucky for them, we decided against hiding rocks in their packs this time. It was close to 1pm when we started back on the trail, there was some urgency since we had only covered about 1/3rd of the mileage for the day. For the rest of Segment 20 (knick-named "Squirrel F#cker" segment) the views were amazing! The trails linked up several saddles and ridges going beneath 13K peaks all around. Since the trail went right below 13,111, I tagged that summit too since it was right there. Storm clouds were building to the south and east, but fortunately the wind kept blowing in the correct direction to keep us out of the rain and lightning. We finally arrived at San Luis Pass after CT2012-42.JPG (377443 bytes) almost 7hrs knowing that we were only about halfway through for the day. Wasting no time, we continued on Segment 21 (knick-named "Guys Gunt" segment) along the trail, saddle after saddle, climb after climb until Mineral Creek for our one water refill of the day. Discussions ensued about the different levels of monkey-butt and hieney-spiders. Next was a long slow climb towards the Continental Divide and the sun was disappearing and the wind was getting chilly. Around 12,500ft we put on most of our layers of clothes and plodded on with headlamps. We could just barely see the "Snow Mesa" in the distance as the moon was coming up. This would be a crappy place to be stuck in a storm. For the last couple of hours I refused to answer the barrage of questions about the trail, distances, and elevations.... but I released a key piece of information when we had only 10 kilometers (half of a score click) to go. It seemed like forever though. The cold wind was sucking energy out of us and making my already chapped and sunburned lips worse. It seemed like hours for the next 5 kilometers (a quarter of a score click) then we finally started descending the last 1200ft. Of course theCT2012-46.JPG (385724 bytes) "trail" went right down a dry stream bed and didn't make for easy footing with already tired feet. Finally back into the trees and warmth then a good sign.... headlights! Our ending trailhead was a welcomed sight at 10:45pm and it took us mere minutes to crack open beers, fill the grill with meat, and get tents setup. Eric and I joked about continuing on to Molas Pass (maybe next year) and then sleep came easy.
Saturday morning was another frosty wake-up. We had a amazingly huge breakfast at the Tick Tock diner in Gunnison after sink-baths then picked up John's car for the long ride home. Another fantastic and memorable kill-yourself-athlon with questionable company but great topics of conversation. John is preserving the memory with a huge blister on his heel and he had to drill holes through several toenails to drain the blood (up until a week before, he thought we were biking, not hiking, this adventure!)