I am not a morning person and tend to not wake up on my own when camping until the sun is hitting my tent and it starts getting hot in there. That's too late to sleep when I'm trying to make some mileage before the afternoon storms come rolling in! I have to get up and over passes before about noon or 1pm to be on the safe side. Lightening is one of the biggest killers of hikers and backpackers in Colorado. I can plug my phone directly into my solar panel that I hang on the outside of my pack while I hike, but this is not an efficient way to charge anything. I only get it up to about 6% that day.
I get a late start, don't know what time, but I know it's later than I wanted it to be. I start up the valley toward the CDT. Can't lie, it's a tough last mile up to the ridge with some pretty gnarly scree fields to get up on decent pitches. I finally make it to the CDT and let out a whoop! It's so great to see what's on the other side. I am able to at least get a couple of pictures here which was nice.
I work my way around a mountain. I thought maybe I was done with going up for a little while at least, but no! I'm still going up! In the mountains, the saying is backwards, “Whatever goes down, must come back up!” Up is hard (cardio-wise and burning legs-wise), but so is down (hard on knees and other joints like ankles, especially with a big pack), so really there's no winning on that one.
I get around “that” mountain (it's an unnamed one) and come over the saddle and much to Motown's delight, there's a snow patch. He happily plays and rolls around in it, cooling off and eating the snow. As I start making my way around to the “front side” of RGP and The Window, it strikes me as to why it's called The Window. There's a huge square chunk of rock missing from the middle of the ridge! So crazy! Got to look up how that happens when I get home! As I work my way past, I wonder about my cousin and his girlfriend who summited RGP last weekend. I wonder what trail they took to get up here. I find out later, that they took Weminuche Trail, one of my bail-out points on this trip.
After about 3 miles of easy rolling trail, the descent starts into Weminuche Meadows. This is the lowest point on the CDT in this wilderness area. That morning I was cursing the up, but now after quite a while of down, I'm cursing that as well. Can't win! I'm telling ya!
I eventually pass a couple setting up camp. I talk to the wife. She only carries 25#! Her husband carries about 35-40#. Wow! I have to get lighter gear! She tells me it's 2pm. I'd like to think that I've made good time today, but since I have no clue when I started that morning, who knows! I see the meadows from where we are talking. She says there's a crew working on the trail, I never see them. I get to the valley floor. I'm so excited! I just need to cross the meadow and find a campsite for the night. I follow a trail sign in what I think is the right direction. But something isn't right. I pull out my map and compass and realize I'm going south instead of east through the meadow! I'm only about a half mile down the wrong trail thank goodness. Yay for navigation skills!
I head back to the meadow. I can't figure out where the trail heads east, so I end up off trail. I can see the mountain where I'm supposed to go but can't find the trail. I see some young elk bucks as I'm crossing the Rincon La Vaca Stream and Fuch's Ditch. Now I know I'm going the right way! After I hop over the ditch, I drop my pack as well as Motown's. We could use a lunch break. As we eat, I sit on a rock looking west. What a view! I can see The Window and RGP clearly and am blown away that I just came up and over that in just a few hours! Amazing! After we eat, I pull out the map and compass again. I decide that I need to go slightly south to try to find the trail going into the woods. I walk without my pack to find it. I was right! There it is! Seriously y'all! Take a navigation course! I never panicked and just knew I was close. I was right both times and the boost of confidence that gives you is palpable.
We retrieve our packs and find a camp for the night. It's an established camp that obviously had idiots here! There's foil and partly burnt underwear and socks. Really?! As if we didn't have enough to carry! I carefully put the items in some used Ziploc. I'm so annoyed right now!
I set camp and relax for a minute and watch the bucks in the meadow. A through hiker comes out of the forest. He's doing the CDT and started in Cuba, New Mexico 200 miles south of us. He's hoping to make it to Yellowstone by September. He averages 12-15 miles per day with a 45# pack! He sits for a while and indulges my questions. He's the first through hiker I've ever met and I didn't even remember to get his name! Hand slap to face....again. He just came from where I'm headed tomorrow, Squaw Pass. He's camping tonight on the other side of the meadows. I watch him cross and realize how far off trail I was! Wow!
I spend the night with a very small fire and read. I watch the sunset over The Window and RGP. It was a beautiful day and I have a big day tomorrow so I drown my fire and head to bed.