My legs did okay overnight but I took more ibuprofen and put more lotion on them when I woke up this morning. We hung around the hostel for a while since check out wasn’t until 10. I had to resort my pack and food bag and charge all my electronics. Finally we made the foray out to town.
First was to the outfitter to see about getting pants to protect my sun blisters and keep them clean. On the way there, Animal thought of those compression sleeves runners wear on their calves, which was a great idea. The store didn’t have any, and all of their tall socks were thick wool. Then Animal found gaiters, which I hadn’t thought of. They just looked so hot and heavy though, and not the most comfortable material on my burn. But all of this led to the idea of getting a UV resistant BUFF, cutting it in two, and sewing up the sides into tubes to make my own calf sleeves. I bought a little sewing kit too in case I needed the safety pins to hold the tubes to my pants, or even buttons.
I asked the woman behind the counter if she had a sewing machine or knew anyone in town that did and she said no. She did lend me scissors to cut the BUFF in two. We went back to the hostel and asked Lucky, the owner, the same question. He thought that the woman who owned the soda fountain had a machine so we went over there. She wasn’t in yet and her husband didn’t want to answer for her so he said we should come back in an hour and ask.
In the meantime, we went and got a hot breakfast, then went back to the soda fountain for ice cream. I got an orange sherbet and vanilla milkshake, which was delicious, and huge. It was pretty much three milkshakes, which I realized was a bad idea right before going back to the trail and climbing uphill in the hot sun. But I drank it all anyway.
Carol came in and was willing to let me use her machine but their house was a couple miles out of downtown and I didn’t think I’d have time to get there and back before the noon shuttle. Hand sewing it was. We grabbed our packs from the hostel and went to the park to wait for the shuttle. I did get the sleeves sewn up between our time at the park and the drive back up to the trail.
Henry and his wife are the trail angels who take hikers to and from the pass every day. Before we got in their cars, he gave us all a pep talk about how we’re the people that will save the world. And by the way, come back to Lake City and have families here. He also gave us some local history on the drive.
I put more lotion on my sunburn at the pass before putting the sleeves on, which I am calling my fish legs because there are fish on the BUFF. Then we walked across the street to get started.
I was so uncomfortably full from the milkshake, and throwing yourself onto the trail in the heat of midday is never a good idea, especially uphill, as it always is from town. The combo had me needing to pause for a break every few steps. It took a mile before I could walk slightly faster, then another mile before I felt mostly normal.
After climbing onto Snow Mesa and over it, we stopped for a snack in the shade provided by the side of a mountain. We watched a deer in the valley below and heard a coyote pup whimpering above us. Then we continued up to our high point of the day at 12700′ before descending to what we thought would be our campsite at Middle Mineral Creek.
Less than a mile before that, we ran into a couple of women camped who said they had wanted to stay there too, but didn’t because there were three bull loose hanging out on the other side of the beaver pond. They invited us to stay but we didn’t have enough water since we’d planned to camp at water. Plus, they were camped amongst a bunch of dead trees. That may be hard to avoid in the future but I’ll avoid it when I can.
We kept going, thinking we’d grab the first water we saw, and then the first campsite after that. We passed by a meadow below the trail that didn’t look great at first. We decided to go past the moose to another campsite a few miles up. But there was uphill again and I just can’t go any faster at altitude. I was afraid it would be dark before we got anywhere, and any campsite would be in dead trees anyway since most of the forest here is dead (beetle kill) so we agreed to go to the next saddle. It would be a little exposed, but at least no dead trees.
After we got to the beaver pond and saw the moose, we sort of saw the saddle and decided that wasn’t a good campsite and we’d go back to the meadow instead. On the way back, we saw a cow moose off to the side in the woods and then debated if we should go all the way back up the hill to join the other women. But at least the meadow had some flattish spots and no dead trees. We put all our smellable stuff in our bear bags and stashed them in the woods, then went right to bed.
My legs are feeling a million times better than yesterday. I think the UPF 50 on the fabric is working because although my calves were occassionally hot in the sun, they were never on fire like yesterday.
We are camped at 11500′ after 10.5 miles today, not counting the additional .6 we spent going back and forth to camp.
We entered La Garita Wilderness somewhere before camp. I’m not sure if it’s in Gunnison National Forest or Rio Grande National Forest or both.