Day 49 – A Change of Plans

A change of plans. Last night’s view to the west from my tent portended unsettled weather today (see photo). A few sprinkles fell overnight. Mist enveloped the tent when I awoke. I packed up after a granola breakfast and headed downhill. I failed to study the maps carefully and didn’t see the climb that awaited me. Soon after I headed uphill, rain started falling. Fog rolled in and the wind picked up. I hiked as hard as I could to stay warm. By the time I reached the top of the 600-foot climb, the rain and wind drained my mental and physical energy. After a shorter climb, I headed down to the Cottonwood Pass trailhead and bathroom where I could find shelter. On the way down, I passed a day hiker out for a hike. What was he thinking? When I reached the trailhead, I found two cars but no bathroom. Now what do I do to get dry and warm up? Wet and cold I couldn’t continue on the CDT without a major risk of hypothermia. A young guy drove up for a short hike. I thought it would be short given the lousy weather. The guy I met on the way down showed up. I asked if he could take me to Buena Vista where he lived. But he harangued me about impending road closures on the Cottonwood Pass Road that would cut off access to his favorite trail. Fortunately, the young man returned and gave me a lift to town. What good fortune. When we arrived in Buena Vista I had thawed out somewhat. I called my friend Greg with whom I had hiked part of the Colorado Trail in 2009 and who lived in town. Would Greg be willing to put me up for the night? Yes, he would. Soon I was clean and warm. Given the unsettled weather, I decided to continue north tomorrow on the lower-elevation Colorado Trail to Twin Lakes where I’d rejoin the CDT. After lunch and dinner, I revived completely thanks to Greg’s hospitality. 5.5 wet miles hiked today.

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