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
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.