9/17/19 – After a pretty good sleep, I woke at about 6:30 to the sound of a cow in distress in the distance. The birds were also up and chirping away. After breakfast, we packed up and were back on the trail for a full day of hiking. The trail followed several forest service roads and ranch roads over the rolling hills of pastureland.
Hiking in Cattle Country
With very few trees along the trail, we were happy to have the protection of some cloud cover. We didn’t see any other hikers along the way, but did see a group of hunters and a couple of fishermen. After about 4 miles of hiking, we reached the end of Segment 18 and continued on to Segment 19.
Segment #19: 13.7 miles – 2,239′ elevation gain, 1,442′ elevation loss
The trail continued to follow the 2 track roads for the first half of Segment 19 over the rolling Cochetopa Hills. Seven miles in, the trail became single track once again and began following the Cochetopa Creek to the southwest. We would ascend through this drainage, paralleling the creek for the next 15 miles. It’s a pretty valley, although the vast majority of the coniferous trees have been killed by beetle infestations. At some locations, a former course of the meandering stream can be seen. The course of the creek has been altered by storm flows and/or beaver activity, which is also prevalent here.
Cochetopa Creek – Showing the Former Course of Flow
A few miles up the valley, we came to a creek crossing where the bridge had been washed out. The creek wasn’t very deep, but was wide enough that we had to wade across.
Fording Cochetopa Creek
After hiking 15 miles, and right after entering the La Garita Wilderness area, we found our campsite for the night on a grassy bench above the creek (10,050′ elevation). It wasn’t ideal, in that there wasn’t any tree cover, but it was flat and had a decent fire ring, so that’s where we camped.
It was turkey for dinner, then off to bed by 8. It feels colder tonight!
Click here for Jerry’s Pledge Form Jerry continues on with the Colorado Trail Challenge to raise money for Love INC. He’s trying to beat the snow!