The day dawned clear and the goal was to get to Chicken Spring Lake early in the afternoon for swimming and relaxation. I made good time down to Diaz Creek to fill up on water and take a break. By the time I was leaving, it was starting to sprinkle again. The sky was a confusing mixture of white clouds, gray clouds, and clear blue for the remainder of the day.
Half way up the hill, just as I was catching up to some people, it started hailing. I’ve never seen hail last more than five or ten minutes so we all stopped under trees to avoid being stung by the pea-sized ice. But it didn’t stop. After half an hour, it slowed to mostly rain, so I moved on, figuring I’d stop if the hail got bigger again.
Everything stopped so I took a break to take off my rain jacket and have a snack. Stretch and Animal caught up to me then and I learned not everyone was doing great with the altitude so I said I was implementing the buddy system and we’d all stay together the rest of the day. I’m the only one who’s felt fine the whole time.
Then it started hailing again, slightly larger, and definitely heavier, so we stopped under a tree. After a while, the thunder and lightning began, so we dropped our things and went into lightning safety position.
The hail kept coming and we were getting very uncomfortable so we moved back to the trees to put layers on. Clark Kent caught up and we decided to all just keep walking and get to the lake for dinner.
There was about an inch of hail on the ground then so we sloshed along, with the precipitation changing from hail to rain to nothing and back again. We made it to Chicken Spring Lake during a dry spell and cooked dinner, but the hail soon came back. So much for our vision of laying on the beach in the sun all afternoon.
We needed to get a few more miles in since we’d been going so slow all day so we kept moving. There were more altitude breathing isssues, and then it started snowing! Morale was low so I burst into song, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.” It seemed to lift the mood and we started hiking more than trudging again.
We found a gorgeous campsite with a beautiful view after 17.4 miles, at 11400′ elevation.