Aug 7th (happy birthday Nonnie!)

17.5 miles!! Holy moley!

4,800 ft elevation gain

Last night we were in bed by 8 and not up this morn till 6:30. U may b saying to urself, “wow, lots of great sleep, how wonderful!” But how much “actual” sleep are we getting out here? Don’t get me wrong, we have a super comfy 2″ blow up mattress, plus now we have our cozy down quilt that is amazing, but we r still woken up A LOT. Every time I roll over, every time Bri rolls over, if I’m too cold, constantly readjusting my tiny blow up pillow, if my hat slides up, earplugs fall out, or if I’m sleeping on 2 extra large tufts of grass which happened last night. Grass is supposed to b soft, right? So I’m very interested to know exactly how much sleep we get out here especially since I look like I’ve aged about 10 years when I look in the minuscule mirror to put my contacts in each morn, kinda alarming, that’s for sure! Anyway…we got up and found out there r actually 2 beavers living in our cute little unnamed lake. This makes me feel better so they’re not lonely, but we r still baffled by what they eat…haven’t seen one fish jump!

We were walking out of camp by 8:15 which was 550 ft basically straight up .75 of a mile off trail which is always a startling way to start ur morning! But on the way up we saw another ptarmigan with a baby this time and we had gotten between them. Listening to them call each other to get reunited was adorable. There were so many ups and downs today and a lot of it was on this small, loose shale which made ascending on it really difficult w poles plus hard on ur feet. Many times I would plant my pole easily in between pieces of shale, yet then trying to pull it out was impossible for some reason…no lie, it must’ve gotten stuck 30 times today. And when ur tired and walking straight up a mountain, it really makes life more difficult! We had so many great views again today since we went over 2 official passes but many other peaks.

There was more haze today because of the fires burning far away, but everything here is just so incredibly green, I can’t get over it! Whether we are at 10,000 or 13,000 ft, everything is various shades green and riddled w gorgeous wildflowers of pinks, yellows, whites and reds…I’d say that’s probably the most striking thing about CO. In the Sierras, almost everything above 10 or 11,000 ft is barren because of all the granite. I think that is also striking to look at as well, just different. But we also noticed that none of the lakes are clear and blue here like they are in the Sierras which is possibly because the lakes have soil bottoms here while the Sierras have white granite sandy bottoms…? Just our theory. We passed the elevation high point on our trip today at 13,055 which was super cool. And with every pass or summiting of a mountain today came some more MAJOR wind! Not being able to hear each other, kind of wind. Let me paint this picture for u to describe what was happening to me between miles 12-15. We are ascending for what seems like the umpteenth time, while this super strong wind is coming sideways at us which makes wearing our wide brimmed hats impossible because they’re either slammed against our face so we can only see out of one eye, or they’re standing up on edge and giving no sun protection whatsoever. We are also walking up the little pieces of shale which I’m trying not to break an ankle on, but also where my poles love getting stuck so I’m yanking those out while a big gust of wind will hit the pole and kick it into my leg, tripping me or shoving me off balance, and the straps on my pack are just long enough to constantly whip my face w a hard stinging feeling each time. This is all happening while trying to finish these crazy big miles today…needless to say, that was my low point of the day. Good thing there were tons of high points too: we saw THREE more huge moose just a mile before we finally reached camp. These were so much closer and because they were eyeing us down, I swear they were contemplating charging. We quickly moved on after taking some pix. We also finally got a pic of the very shy Pika! We have seen so many of these cute little guys but they are always so fast to get away that we’ve never been able to get a good pic. But this guy today was fighting w another one which seemed to b more important than running from us, so here he is:

Because of the bigger miles today than expected, we didn’t make it to camp until 6:30 and because we r in the trees, the sun was already going down behind them. So as much as I wanted to just flop down and have a cocktail, there was the tent to set up, cleaning our bodies so we could put warm clothes on, making dinner and cleaning that up before I could finally sit and write this post. But this is a fabulous camp spot…holy cow it’s sooo quiet. I think especially after hearing the blaring wind for 5 or 6 hours today this is amazing to be in silence.

No one else is camped here and we can’t even hear any birds or animals, it’s strange actually. Bri and I were just commenting on how our ears are ringing and we think it’s from the loud wind for most of the day! When ur out hiking for 10 straight hours, there are bound to b highs and lows so I still look forward to what tomorrow brings! It’s now hiker midnight (9pm) and time for some much needed sleep–Amy