Day 48: A Day Without Snow
Saturday, June 18, 2022 8:21 pm
Location: Tank Seven Creek (669.1 miles)

A bit damp and rainy, today met a new milestone for Colorado: no snow on the trail.

It rained a few times overnight. In the morning, fog descended over the mountain, making it cool and damp.

After two long days, I decided I would sleep in a little and take it slower today; I didn’t get up until six, and didn’t leave camp until nearly 8. By that time, Ducky was long gone, and the fog had lifted a bit.

As it did yesterday, the trail climbed up on a ridge and followed it for some time. In a departure from much of the trail in Colorado, the trail was surrounded mostly by living pine trees, rather than being dominated by dead trees from bark beetles.

10 am Selfie Day 48
10 am Selfie Day 48

After I stopped for a snack break, it started to lightly rain pretty much immediately once I started hiking again. The rain didn’t last long, though, only about half an hour. While it was raining, I passed a bright orange firefighter’s coat draped over a tree.

Later, a motorbike passed, my first on the trail. The rider was quite courteous and made sure I was aware of him and out of the way before he attempted to pass. That said, the bike was rather loud, a terrible sound in the forest, and the back end of the bike smelled awful.

There was a clap of thunder, and the clouds darkened a bit. I decided to stop for a break before the likely inevitable rain started. This was a good plan; about ten minutes after I sat down, a light rain started.

At over 11,000 feet, the combination of the altitude and humidity in the air from the rain made it a little hard to breathe. Over the next couple of hours, the rain slowly picked up. With occasional hail, it got somewhat cold; I put on my rain jacket to stay warm. After the rain stopped, I stopped again for another break, surprisingly tired.

Ridgetop Forest
Ridgetop Forest

The trail eventually left the forest, traveling through a long meadow, which was a nice change of scenery. Ahead, there were views to no small number of snowy peaks. The wind picked up. Behind me, dark rainclouds slowly blew towards me. I hoped it wouldn’t rain, at least not until I was back under tree cover.

Sargents Mesa
Sargents MesaView east, towards Mt. Ouray (left) and Antora Peak (center).

The trail descended, re-entering forest and following the side of a valley, gradually dropping towards the Tank Seven Creek, which I knew would have a few campsites.

I reached the creek a bit after 6 pm. At this point, I’d gone a little under 20 miles. It might have been nice to go a little further, but this was the last water for another six or seven miles, so I’d have to carry whatever water I needed for dinner. I didn’t really want to stop right right next to a creek, since it’d likely be cold and humid overnight. But, my feet were telling me they were done, despite the mosquitoes that began to swarm around me. (With a plan to go into Salida the morning after tomorrow, any further I went today would just make tomorrow even shorter, which was also unnecessary.)

I got my tent set up, and not a moment too soon; it started to rain almost immediately after. I resorted to cooking my dinner from inside my tent to stay warm and dry.

Today was a first in Colorado: there was no snow on the trail. The mountains in the distance had snow, of course, but that’s probably going to be the case for weeks (at least) whether or not there’s trail snow. I’d still heard reports of lots of snow further north, but I took this as a milestone towards the end of snow in Colorado.