8/22/19 – Woke to a cold morning (32 degrees). We had a fire and warmed up with coffee and Biscuits and Gravy with Sausage for breakfast (again Mountain Home). We broke camp and headed out for day 3, and 14.1 miles of hiking. We began the day climbing 4 miles out of the Tank Seven Creek drainage and onto Sargent’s Mesa (11,616′) and the end of Segment 16.
While we passed through a meadow during that climb, there was a herd of cattle grazing there. Lance noticed what looked like a wolf in the trees at the edge of the meadow. Although it was most likely a coyote, it was big and grey and quickly scooted off into the trees. A bit further along, we noticed a sick-looking calf lying down and its mama bellowing trying to get it to follow the herd as it moved off. The calf couldn’t or wouldn’t stand up. Glenn walked over close to where it was, startling it enough to get it to stand up. The calf took a step or two and wouldn’t go any farther. Something was definitely wrong with it. We suspect that the coyote we saw may have been waiting for an easy meal…circle of life, you know.
Sick Calf and His Mama
Segment #17: 20.4 miles – 2,810′ elevation gain, 4,810′ elevation loss
After that initial climb from the creek, there were several additional short, steep climbs as we continued along the Continental Divide. The views were spectacular! Though hard to capture in a photo, the one below shows the distant San Juan Mountains.
San Juans in the Distance
After the first of those climbs, we stopped for lunch. After eating lunch, Mark and Lance (the speed hikers) went on ahead to scout out a camp site at our expected destination (Razor Creek). The rest of us continued on, ascending and descending several more times along the way. As we walked along, storm clouds were building and thunder was rolling through the mountains. Although the weather threatened rain, we escaped without getting wet. The clouds seemed to go around us.
As we crossed Middle Baldy Peak (11,685′), we noticed a change in the rocks along the trail. We were crossing the solidified lava from an ancient volcano. The guide book says this is part of the San Juan volcanic field that covers 10,000 square miles. I picked up a small “I Lava You” rock as a souvenir for my wife.
Lava Rock on Middle Baldy Peak
About a mile before arriving at camp, Bruce was having severe knee pain. Glenn had something similar on Segment 6 as we climbed to Georgia Pass. It turned out to be IT Band pain in Glenn’s case and was resolved after resting it for a period of several weeks. We made it into camp just as the weather turned once again and started spitting rain our way. Mark and Lance had gotten to Razor Creek about an hour before the rest of us and had located a nice place for us to call home for the night. The rain didn’t last very long and had mostly quit by the time we had our tents set up.
We had heard from some north-bound hikers a couple days earlier that Razor Creek was just a trickle, but was still flowing. A trickle was about it! Someone had set up a wide leaf to serve as a spout and we were able to get enough water to meet our needs.
That evening, we discussed a plan to drive Bruce out, in case his knee wouldn’t allow him to hike the 10 remaining miles to get to the car at the end of the hike. Mark remembered seeing a parking lot on Google Earth at the end of a nearby USFS road. I was able to expand the map I’d downloaded on my phone app and we saw that the road ended about a mile from our camp. We traced the roads on the map back to the highway, and it looked like we should be able to reach that parking area by traveling the forest service roads.
We had a nice fire and dinner (Chili Mac with Beef) and decided to get an early start in the morning.