Colorado Trail Segments 18 – 21. Highway 114 to Spring Creek Pass (highway
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.
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 finally
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 ranchland without a person, vehicle, or house
in sight. Just for fun we described all distance in "score" and
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 with
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 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 the "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,