CDT day 122: Cochetopa hills in the rain

September 3
Mileage: 31
2,370 miles hiked

I wake up at six and it’s pitch black. Ah, that’s why I’ve been sleeping in. I tear down my tarp and sit in my sleeping bag, drinking tea and watching the forest around me lighten. The sky is pale-grey and overcast, and as I’m packing up it starts to drizzle. It’s that gentle drizzle, though, and not too cold. I ain’t mad.

This drizzle continues off and on all day. The trail rolls gently down out of the mountains, into the Cochetopa Hills. Sagebrush and a smooth jeep road, clusters of black cattle laying down waiting for the storm. A couple of cowboys zip past me on dirt bikes, along the fence line. They park their bikes and stand leaning against a gate, watching the cows. They’re wearing canvas jackets and felt cowboy hats and missing front teeth.

“Aren’t you supposed to be on horses?” I ask them as I walk past.

“Too much trouble,” they reply.

I make good time on the jeep road, or maybe it’s just that I woke up early for once. This section is supposed to be dry but since it’s been raining there’s water everywhere- almost all the blue lines on my map are flowing. A fresh thunderstorm rolls in right as I’m scouting for a campsite around Cochetopa creek. There aren’t any, really, unless I want to camp in the open on some soaking grass right at the edge of the water. I’m in a canyon of sorts, and that’s likely the coldest place I could possibly pitch my tarp. The forested slope rises steeply on the other side of the trail but on my topo map it looks like there’s a sort of shelf up there, and I climb my way to it as new rain begins to fall. On this shelf I set up my shelter among the aspen trees and quickly retreat inside. I love my tarp so much! It’s so good in the rain. You know what else is good in the rain? Hot instant refried beans.

Photos on instagram