Track Meat and Spark are not hiking out today. So if I hike out, that means doing the next section solo. I’m not really stoked about hiking another section by myself, and the boredom that it entails… and plus, I miss my friends. It’s so good to talk and laugh with people again!
We talk to another CDT hiker turned Steamboat Springs resident, Seminole, and he offers to host us for the night. John Lennon must prepare the cabin to return to its owners in a week, and so he can’t host any more hikers. We go to the local pizza buffet with Seminole- and run into Buck-30! He’s looking sun-weathered and his faded green shirt is in tatters. He’s stuffing pizza into his face with determination.
Seminole tells us about a nearby 14-er (that’s a peak above 14 thousand feet), Long’s Peak, that he’s been wanting to climb for a while. He hasn’t been able to find anyone to climb it with. It’s one of the harder 14-ers, with exposure and class 4 scrambling. 14 miles round trip with 5100 feet of elevation gain. We’d have to leave at three in the morning. Do we want to climb it? Good, that’s settled.
Next thing I know we’re headed through Rocky Mountain National Park to Estes Park, where our buddy Ole from PCT 2013 lives with his trail crew. From there it’ll be only a 20 minute drive to the trailhead. When we arrive and spill from the car Ole is grilling burgers, and all his nice trail crew friends are standing about drinking beers. More people to talk to! What luck is this! I make guacamole, marveling at the magic that is fresh guacamole. What wonders this world holds! Also, in-season tomatoes. Is there anything better? And watermelon!
It’s grown dark by the time we’ve stuffed ourselves and we throw down our bedrolls in an empty building next door. Spark sets his alarm for 2:55 a.m. Fuck, what are we doing? I feel apprehensive- my energy has been super low on account of my gut stuff. Will I be able to climb this mountain? I did just double zero- that should help, at least. It’s stuffy where we’re sleeping and I lay half in my sleeping bag, feeling very awake.
Photos on instagram