After pushing ourselves over the past four days, we have an easy-ish day on tap today, so we enjoy sleeping in until six and even read a little in bed and do a few minutes of wilderness yoga before breaking camp. Boy, does that feel like a luxury!
Our first resupply will be at the General Store in Jefferson, which is located five miles off of the Colorado Trail from Kenosha Pass. We are trying to arrive there in plenty of time to get a ride into town, pick up the box we mailed ourselves, get back to Kenosha Pass and get back on the trail to find a place to camp for the night. Margaret and Larry (two friends of Bob and Ann’s that we met at the CT kick-off party) have volunteered to meet us at the pass and drive us in. We aren’t sure if that was a little over-served enthusiasm or if they are serious. In any case, we plan to get as close as we can to Kenosha Pass in case they do come for us.
Just before leaving camp, Matt goes off to use the bathroom and yells for me to come. He has an American Three-toed Woodpecker on a tree in clear sight, and I get there in time to get a good look at the bird before he flies off. How cool to actually see this rare bird up here in the mountains of Colorado, exactly where he is supposed to be.
The trail today starts off with a gentle downhill through the pine forest to the Long Gulch Trailhead. We get some partial views of the Kenosha Mountains as we make our descent. At the trailhead there is a stream with running water and a nice camp. We continue on through groves of Aspen trees and make pretty good progress until we stop for our first break.
The sun is out, and it is warm, so we decide to shed our pants for shorts. While we are at it, I decide that I need to do something about the blister on my right heel. It was even larger this morning, and now it is getting more painful. We decide the best option is to drain it and apply a Compeed blister cushion and Leukotape. After digging all the supplies out of my pack, Doctor Matteo does the honors, and we are back on the trail after a rather lengthy break.
Before too long, we come across a trailside stream complete with mossy rocks and pretty Bluebells growing alongside it. It looks like the perfect spot to take our lunch break.
Shortly after lunch the skies darken and it becomes apparent that a storm is coming in. We can hear thunder but don’t see any lightning, so we decide to press on. Luckily, we are dropping elevation and staying in the forest, so we feel relatively safe until there is a flash in the sky. Matt suggests we pull off the trail at a small campsite, and we pull out all the raingear and wait out the storm. First the grovel (alpine hail) comes and then the rain as the thunder rumbles all around us. There are flashes of lightning but luckily nothing too close. We only have about three more miles until our intended campsite, so we decide to play it safe and wait it out until everything simmers down. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to throw on a layer of clothes before we put on our rain jackets and pants, and the temperature has really dropped. So as soon as the lightning stops, we start moving to generate some body heat.
The rain continues on and off for the next few miles, but we pull out the cameras whenever it lets up because the sky and lighting are so dramatic.
We have to pick up water at Rock Creek because we will be dry camping at Johnson Gulch. We find a dry spot under a dense tree and put on a layer of clothing before filtering our water in the rain. Luckily, it’s only about a mile to carry today, so at least we have that going for us!
The skies darken again just before coming down to the gulch, but this time we escape the rain.
The trail takes us up a hill into a beautiful meadow with a commanding view of some mountains off in the distance. Just at the top of the hill is a campsite, and we can’t believe that it is actually unoccupied. We really want to camp here, but it is very exposed. We aren’t sure if the weather will hold for us, so we take our packs off and head further up the hill to see if there might be a site that is a little better protected. There are a few other spots, but none with the view, so we head back down to see what the weather will do.
Lo and behold, the skies begin to clear, and we can actually see some blue sky appearing from over the pass. This is a good sign! We decide that we can’t pass this site up and set up the tent, eager to call this magnificent spot our home for the night.
We have a little time to relax and chill out before dinner. Our intention is to catch up on some writing, but we keep getting distracted by the waves of golden light that make the glorious alpine scene in front of us all the more enchanting. Every so often a Ruby-throated hummingbird buzzes in to sip nectar from the Penstemmon and Indian Paintbrush that are in peak bloom. We just might never leave this spot…
Day 5 Trail Stats
Starting Point: Dry campsite at end of meadow/head of North Fork of Lost Creek, mile 55
End Point: Trailside camp above Johnson Gulch, mile 65.5
Segments: 4 & 5
Date on Trail: July 5