I must have passed out because the first time I looked at the clock it was 2 AM.
Two hours of solid sleep was good. Then began the tossing and turning for the next two hours thinking about the day ahead. So again I waited -wide awake- for my alarm to go off at 4 AM. Better than the night before so I'll take it. I stood up out of bed with no soreness and surprisingly feeling good. I slipped into my clothes (which had been laid out next to my fully reloaded pack), applied the body glide, and started heating up water for my tea. As I wait for my water to boil and the rest of the troops began to move about, the only thoughts that enter my mind are "how fortunate I am to have such a supportive wife and crew." The night before my wife had taken care of everything I needed so all I had to do was roll out of bed and start moving on the trail.
As became the routine during breakfast, I'd get the download of the events from the day before. I knew from the planning phases that yesterday would be logistically a challenge. Getting from one side of the San Juan's to the other is not convenient; it's a minimum of 3 hrs from Molas pass to Spring Crk. In addition, Rick had to drive the ATV up and down Carson Saddle road twice to shuttle Rick Hessek and Matt Trappe. In the process of all this, Rick nearly rolled the RV and then drove up and down Carson Saddle road at a breakneck pace. So I'm told.
|Sunrise on Snow Mesa|
|Some running on Snow Mesa|
Now that the -flat- Snow Mesa was behind us, we start a jagged up and down journey for the next 7 myles to San Luis Pass. Except for the initial climb out of Spring Crk, this entire segment (21) is around 12,000 ft., which makes for slower than expected travel. When I predicted my time to each checkpoint it was done on a very rudimentary elevation profile. Let's just say it wasn't as smooth as the picture looked. We can see San Luis Peak (14,014 ft.) in the distance and in between are several drainage's that will occupy us for next couple of hours. The day started off as being a blue bird day but as we got closer to San Luis Peak, the clouds gathered rather rapidly. Brandon had contemplated summiting San Luis to do a bit of peak bagging, but by the time we got to the pass it was thunder and lightning so he smiled and quietly shook his head. The peak is literally one mile off the Colorado Trail, which makes this segment more popular than most in the La Garita wilderness.
|The flat stuff is behind us now|
|The views go on forever up here|
|The ups and downs ahead|
|Approaching the saddle below San Luis Peak|
|The long valley ahead to Eddiesville. See the "corner"?|
Eddiesville TH marks the end of Brandon's 80.8 mile journey with me... for now. Rick Hessek will now take me to Hwy 114. But before we leave, my father-in-law and wife want to sit me down and discuss cutting the day short. They can see that 10 mile stare in my eyes and with my constant late arrivals, they are concerned that I can't keep to the schedule. They have consulted with two smart guys, Brian Fisher and Nick Pedatella, to crunch the numbers. The rationale is that if I cut off 8 myles today to end before dark then I could recharge the battery and start before 5 AM (anniversary time to mark a day) to bank those 8 myles on a fresh-er mind and body. I was not happy with that decision because I was trying to get ahead of schedule to cut into the last two, 70+ mile days. This would only make those last two days longer.
|The crew at Eddiesville TH|
|Livvy greeting me*|
|Almost ready for the night*|
|The plethora of supplies at the checkpoints*|
|The road ahead to Hwy 114*|
Rick H and I turned our lights on shortly after leaving the crew. For the next few myles we'd be traveling on an old logging road, which had a very gentle grade that made for good running. I say running but it was more of a shuffle at this point. It was dark the last time I had been through this section so I really don't know (or remember) what lay ahead to Hwy 114. But as I mentioned before, when it gets dark, the trail just keeps going. We crested a 500ft climb and started a long switch back descent on the logging road. Rick kept checking the guide book for clues as to how far we had to go. I could tell he was getting antsy to finish the day as well. Finally we crossed a stream, which Rick identified in the guide book as two myles to go. Once by the stream, it got cold quick. It was the first time I had to put every ounce of clothing on to keep warm. Following the stream for a bit, we rounded a corner and saw the occasional car go past on Hwy 114. It was 10:39 PM when we pulled into the parking lot, trekking the last 7.2 myles in 2 hours. I was happy because we maintained a 3.5+ mph avg. for the last 14 myles but it had come with a price. I was tired and my thoughts became disjointed to my mouth.
Myles: 55 (182.2)
Time: 16h 40m (53h 46m)
Elevation: 8611 (35,062)
Myles to go: 303.6
*These photos are taken by a professional photographer, Matt Trappe. Please be respectful and go to his website to purchase. Other photos are taken by Brandon Stapanowich, please send a note to me if you reuse his photos.