[June 11-16, Colorado Trail Segment 1, Waterton Canyon to South Platte River]
After spending two days at a trail angel in Salida we where recharged with clean-ish clothes and ready to continue.
Restarting the hike at the Colorado Trails official northern terminus, Waterton Canyon, meant we would have another week to acclimate to the altitude of the trail.
The average elevation on the CT is 10,000. Coming from sea level meant we could hardly get over a hill without immense huffing and puffing last week.
Our first six miles at this dramatically lower elevation (6,000 instead of 12,000 feet) ran along a wide fire road culminating in the gargantuan Strontia Springs Dam.
Just before we arrived at the dam we spotted a herd of bighorn sheep lurking on a ravine near the trail.
The animals where silent enough for most passersby not to notice. Their hearty chewing noises gave them away.
Before we reached our campsite that day we had 1000 foot climb to get over.
Had the climb been our first mile of the hike we would have hardly broke a sweat. Because this was our last mile of the day it was grueling. The rapid elevation also gave way to Esther’s fear of heights. While we were sheltered from the great distance below by trees Esthers anxiety was steadily creeping up. Before it got too bad we arrived at camp and sought out Bear Creek. We were looking forward to a dip in the rushing water to cleanse us of the day’s dust.
We were disappointed to find a trickle of water rather than a rushing creek. Despite our disappointment we where able fill up water for the next dry eight miles.
The water we arrived at after those long and aired miles was the rushing South Platte River, as alive as it was a day ago near the dam. We spent the rest of the day floating in the river.
After a late start the next day we began our ascent into a sparsely wooded area. The landscape was vast and open, it didn’t bode well with Esther. Three miles in we took a break to evaluate our feelings.
Esther wasn’t doing well. After much debate, we decided to turn back.
We spent a full day by the river finally deciding to try and catch a hitch out the next day.
To our disappointment getting a ride on the nearby decrepit National Forest road was not easy.
After an hour in the sun we got found our ride, or rather he found us. He was just out for a long drive and was happy to help get us towards Breckenridge, our next stop.
There is a flat valley road walk that leads to the heart of the White River Wilderness we have our eyes on. We intend to camp by the Swan River for a few days before attempting the hike back to Frisco via the Colorado Trail.