08/08/20 – After a good night’s sleep, we had breakfast and broke camp for our last full day of hiking. The plan was to descend (except for 2 relatively minor ascents) from our camp at about 10,000′ to a possible water source at 8,210′ and stop there for the night (again, depending on the “whether”). As we hiked and lost elevation, the temperature continued to climb. When we stopped for lunch, 3 bikers came along and stopped to visit. One of the young ladies mistook us for another group of “old guys” she’d run into earlier. We gave her a bit of a hard time for calling us “old guys”, even though we were on the upper end of the age range for hikers on the trail.
A Friend Stops by at Lunch
By the time we reached our camp, it was hot and we were all tired and ready to stop for the night. As it turned out, the potential water source was all but non-existent, so we decided to ration the water we had and skip breakfast in the morning…opting to get something in Durango instead. We had beef stroganoff for dinner and settled in for the night. Since it was warm, and we weren’t expecting any rain, Bruce and I decided to leave the rain flys off our tents, so we could stay cool and see the stars through the mesh roof overnight. The stars were bright until some high clouds obscured the view.
08/09/20 – Five miles to go! We were up and out of camp early to make the final push into Durango. The last few miles of the trail follow Junction Creek. There were several pools in the creek that looked inviting. If it was later on a hot day, I think I would have taken advantage of the opportunity to soak in the creek for a bit. As it was, we continued on and completed the segment without diving in.
End of the Trail – Junction Creek Trailhead
After arriving at the Junction Creek trailhead, we strapped 3 packs to the top of the Jeep, piled in and drove to Doughworks in Durango for breakfast. I had an apple fritter that was the size of a dinner plate and coffee. It was a very tasty breakfast after 6 days on the trail! From there, we left for Silverton to pick up the Suburban and trailer.
Bruce and Lance were in the back seat. I was in the front with Glenn driving. As we approached Molas Pass, I looked down and discovered a stowaway between my feet, looking up at me with beady black eyes. It was a small mouse that had somehow gotten in the Jeep while it was parked at the trailhead. As I moved my feet around, he scampered back behind the dashboard. We tried to figure out a way to capture him, but we were traveling down the highway with limited options. I looked down a few minutes later and there he was again…right next to my feet! Then I saw a second mouse poking his head out from behind the dashboard! It seemed the whole family had moved in while we were hiking!! I took my empty paper coffee cup and trapped the first mouse under it on the floor. When we arrived at our turnoff, we stopped there to deal with the intruders. We were able to trap both mice under 2 coffee cups and thought that if one of us could lift the floor mat while the other held the cups in place, we could extricate the stowaways unharmed.
While Glenn held the cups, I started lifting the floor mat. Unfortunately, gaps opened up under the cups and the mice scampered under the seat and into the back of the Jeep with Bruce and Lance. We went ahead and finished driving the last mile to the trailhead, and unloaded the Jeep. After removing a backpack from the back of the Jeep, we found the mice there, huddled on the floor of the Jeep. Glenn grabbed one by the tail and tossed it out on the ground. Then he scooted the other mouse toward the back of the Jeep, where it took a running jump to freedom. As far as we know, the rest of the family, though we never actually saw them, must have departed on their own.
We loaded the Jeep onto the trailer, threw our gear in the Suburban and headed out for Denver. We stopped along the way at the Ouray Brewery for burgers. They were great – highly recommend the place!! We arrived in Denver late in the evening, well satisfied with another hiking adventure!
Our Transportation for This Outing
As I look back on my Colorado Trail adventure, I’m grateful for the many friends and family members who physically joined me during the hike. I’m especially grateful for my brother Glenn’s companionship throughout this endeavor. There were many others who supported my efforts through donations to Love INC of Littleton. I’m so thankful for the encouragement they provided through those donations! I felt that support every step of the way!!! I’d also like to thank my wife, Terry, for her patience and support of my Colorado Trail adventure!
What’s next for me now that I’ve completed the Colorado Trail? Only God knows!!
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