I woke up before light and could have sworn I heard something messing with my bear bag. But I didn’t want to get up to see and figured it was probably my imagination making more of the noises I heard than necessary. I eventually tucked my head back in my sleeping bag and got a little more sleep. When I did get up after light, my bag didn’t look like it had been touched. Score one for laziness!
There wasn’t any smoke anymore this morning which made my immediate climb over Blackhawk Pass easier as far as breathing goes. I shared the pass with a marmot while I had the second part of my breakfast.
The weather looked nice but I knew there could be a storm later so I moved quickly in order to get over any exposed areas before afternoon. I did start to see gray clouds in the distance but they seemed to be moving the same direction I was and staying far away.
I stopped at Bolam Pass Road for an early lunch so I would have energy to get over the next exposed hump. There was some thunder as I was coming down it but I made it back below treeline without incident. I ran into some mountain bikers who said they’d been hailed on at Molas Pass this morning, where I will be tomorrow.
There was more downhill to Cascade Creek where I filled up on water just as it started sprinkling on me. Then I started going up the hill with the intention of camping at the last site before treeline. I ran into hikers coming down who had been going over the pass at 12487′ during the storm and said it was scary. It was starting to look like blue skies there again though so I was hopeful I’d be able to go over. It was really early in the day for stopping and also I wanted to have a shorter hike into town tomorrow.
Multiple people had told me about the good campsites just below treeline, and someone even said there was already a person setting up their tent there. I figured I’d get there and cook an early dinner while I watched what was going on at the pass and then decide whether to go over. Somehow I never saw the campsites though and then I was above treeline.
There was blue over the pass and gray in the distance so I thought I’d be okay. Then the thunder started. Then lightning and rain. I ducked into some bushes and threw my tent over to sit hunched over and read while I waited. It didn’t take long for the rain and thunder to stop. I waited a bit more before emerging and continuing my climb. I’m getting better at uphills but still have to stop and breathe plenty which makes going over a pass a little nervewracking because it takes longer than it should and I don’t know what the weather looks like on the other side.
I met some hikers coming down that said it was okay, but I still rushed to get down from there as fast as possible. It was miles before I hit treeline again and it kept sprinkling off and on. I saw piles of marble-sized hail on the ground from earlier. I’m going to have to figure out what my strategy is for an upcoming section where I’m above treeline all day multiple days in a row. I got lucky today with being behind the storm for the most part.
I finally came to the campsite I was aiming for after 20.2 miles to find ten other tents already there. Folks hadn’t wanted to start up this side of the pass with its longer above treeline section and decided to wait until morning. One woman had been right next to a tree when it was struck by lightning earlier and been flung back with debris so her story may have helped convince people to stay.
It was nice to have folks to talk with during dinner. I’m glad this campsite is so big because I haven’t seen one even close to this size before. It was pretty chilly with the wind so we all went to bed after eating to get warm. Deer have been circling the campsite waiting for our pee. They like to eat the salty dirt after.
I climbed and descended about 4200′ today and am camped at 11580′. I walked over a few short sections of snow today, which was weird. Tomorrow will be a short hike to town.