Times like these on the trail tend to be numb. You just push on while your senses are on heightened alert.
Who gets up early in the morning and decides to go for a “workout hike” an hour away? Seriously, there are gyms close by, and we have equipment in our home, no, not used for hanging clothes on, we actually use it. Did we mention the weather? Rain, cold-wet-sloshy-foggy rain. We drove for an hour, gained several thousand feet of altitude all the while the rain started turning into clouds that eventually became drizzly wet fog and thunder snow! Bottom line, there are muscles that can’t be worked out in the dry warmth of your home.
The drive, at first, was typical, a growing city congested with the same daily commuters now out and about for weekend activities. You’d think they had enough during the week to not want to get out and drive in traffic again! Alas, we push on, heading for the city limits and the winding road into the mountains. The clouds kept pushing downwards as we climbed higher.
An hour later we pulled into a sleepy mountain town blanketed in cool drizzle. It looked and felt like it could snow at any minute. The chimneys were all smoking. The people here had the right idea, so it seemed, no one about, just quiet, steady rain and a swift moving stream all surrounded by tall lush forest adorned on the mountains that disappeared into the clouds. We were off the highway, on a small county road that quickly turned to a winding, washboard and puddled dirt road. We were driving thru the thick woods with other roads coming and going, and only the locals knew where they went! We arrived at the trailhead and took option B, a short 4 wheel drive road that lead to a smaller parking area closer to the trail. Let’s just say winter was not kind to this portion of road.
Choices. At the trailhead we had two options, a downhill trail leading to a valley below, or an uphill battle thru thick woods. We came for the workout, uphill it was. Although, if we had gone for the valley, we’d have hiked uphill coming back! Perhaps another day.
The weather had lightened up on us, instead of a steady rain, we trudged forward thru dense fog…more likely the clouds which were heavy and low. On and off light rain became the norm. It wasn’t long, a few steps on the trail, before our workout became a beautiful hike. The trail description was nothing more than “an uphill trek thru dense woods”. There was no mention of the amazing large aspen groves. No mention of a winding trail that gave way to new surprises around every bend. No mention of the awesome mix of tall pines that were filtering the rain and turning it into a fine mist. No mention of the ground cover on the floor of the forest being so lush. It was simply a trail that was full of birds singing, squirrels chattering and a few other unseen critters keeping a watchful eye on the two humans that dared show up on such a surreal day deep in the woods of Colorado.
Up and up the trail went. There were views, well, there were supposed to be views. The clouds had laid right down on top of the mountain, there was nothing but fluffy puffy white and grey cotton balls as far as the eye could see…which was not far. The trail, now rolling, and the rain falling ever harder. The wind began to pick up and no sooner that we discussed the change, the skies began to rumble with distant sounds of thunder. It was time to head back. We set a pace to stay ahead of the “booms” that seemed to be outpacing us. Thunder snow. Camera stored, rain gear on, and it was a silent, with the exception of the thunder overhead, imaginative and quick paced hike back to the trailhead. Each rock a slippery obstacle. Each root an ankle-breaking hurdle. The dry seasonal streams were beginning their run. As we headed back down, our bodies and minds seemed to take a different approach to the retreat. Times like these on the trail tend to be numb. You just push on while your senses are on heightened alert.
We got what we came for, and more. A great workout in nature…while nature did a little working out of its own. This was the start of segment 4 of the Colorado Trail in the Lost Creek Wilderness, no less, a wonderful surprise of what sounded like just another uphill hike thru the woods.