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
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!