9/20/19 – Rain came and went several times during the night as the wind howled. I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d be hiking in the driving rain above timberline all the next day! Although we didn’t get any rain after about 4 am, the wind continued until dawn. Surprisingly, the wind was dead calm as we ate breakfast and packed up for our last day on the trail. We packed up quickly and were hiking before 8 am.
Before reaching timberline again, we hiked about a mile through a forested area where there was evidence of avalanches from the previous winter. As we emerged from the trees, we saw 4 deer about 50 yards above us next to the tree line. Before I could pull out my phone for a photo, they scooted off into the trees.
Once again, above timberline and without the protection of the trees, we were buffeted by sustained 20 to 30 mph winds. The wind velocity was even higher as we passed through several saddles along the way. The air temperature was still pretty low as well, making the wind all the more annoying. Had to be pretty careful when the cross-wind was blowing to the downhill side!
Even still, the views were spectacular!
Great View – San Juan Mountain Range in the Distance
We hiked about 7-1/2 miles above timberline, including 3 miles heading west across Snow Mesa. Finally, we began our descent back into the trees. After getting out of the wind, we stopped to rest for a bit. We could hear pikas chirping away and the birds as well. It was nice to hear something other than the wind howling in my ears!
Over the next 2 miles, or so, we descended steadily to the end of this segment and the trailhead where we had left the Jeep several days earlier. As we walked along, I was about 50 feet in front of Glenn. Suddenly, I heard a CRACK, Crack, crack behind me…the distinctive sound of a tree breaking off and falling. I turned around just in time to see Glenn take a couple of steps back and a dead tree crash to the ground across the trail in front of him. Fortunately, he emerged unscathed and calmly stepped over the tree toward me. That was close! That would have left a mark!!
We arrived at the Jeep with no major injuries and having not been eaten by the bear! Quite an adventure this trip!! We loaded up and drove to Lake City for a burger and onion rings at Southern Vittles. That hit the spot!!! From there, we drove back through Gunnison and to the Suburban we’d left at the beginning of the hike. We loaded up the Jeep on the trailer and drove Mark home to Salida. After dropping Mark off, and saying hello to Lesly and Matthew, Glenn and I headed home, looking forward to a good sleep in our own beds.
Click here for Jerry’s Pledge Form Jerry continues on with the Colorado Trail Challenge to raise money for Love INC.
“Though the road’s been rocky it sure feels good to me.”