CDT day 126: Staying high in the San Juans

September 7
Mileage: 27.5
2,439.5 miles hiked

It’s hard to leave the yurt in the morning. Outside the high-altitude world of the San Juan mountains is windy and cold and the still-warm woodstove begs to have another fire built inside. If I had enough food, and if I hadn’t just bought my plane ticket home solidifying my finish date, I would probably zero. Alas!

The trail stays high all day today, undulating between eleven thousand and thirteen thousand feet. It’s beautiful but cold as fuck- strong icy winds and storm clouds building up and blowing over all day. I feel like the mountains are trying to tell me something, namely The season is over little mammal, get yourself down to lower elevation before I crush you. I feel a strong desire to seek out shelter, a longing for the indoors. It’s that time of year. The great North American summer is closing up shop, putting all away until next year. What was that annoying song on the radio when I was in high school? Closing time, you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.

Many many smallish climbs today. The trail wears me down a thousand feet at a time. Death by a thousand cuts. And the cold! I hike in my layers, gloves and a hat. I probably don’t drink enough water. Mercifully, it only rains a tiny bit.

I see the cute rumps of three different pikas, scooting down their holes. I hear the bugling of elk. I long for forest, for something other than the wind and velvety brown grasses. But the trail stays high.

It’s clear enough in the evening for a fiery sunset, the clouds pink and golden. Light does all sorts of things on the ridges, things I can’t capture with the camera on my phone.

I camp at 12,200 feet, selecting my campsite carefully so as to avoid an antarctica situation. The wind wends its way around the rock, one can find small pockets of stillness. There are bushes here, which is fortunate. I am not next to water. All these things are good. Perhaps I will be warm!

Photos on instagram