Far Reaching Meadows – Part 3
Rain fell throughout the night. Not a torrential downspout of no end but the continuous fall of droplets that ensured a thick dampness in the air though we were safely tucked in the blue nylon protector with a zipper on each side. When we awoke the sun was considering crossing the horizon and despite the dark sky, clouds were few and spread over large distances. Our wet tent was packed away for drying later in the day.
A short one mile climb began on clear tread that waggled and winded around high tops that stanza’ed to another high top. Ponds dotted the landscape and provided an ever ready source of water if one was inclined to descend and ascend for a need. Meadow and sub-alpine and alpine flowers danced in the breeze with colorful gaiety and a variety of flaming fluorescent mosses covered the rocks edging our walk.
Up and down … one prominent bump. Up and down … another prominent bump. One more up and a steep descent to the old mining town of Carson with its leaning buildings and rusting steam boilers. Established in 1889, silver ore was dominate in this place of inhospitable living – being 12,366-feet – and not near anyplace but the quiet of a peaceful land.
The conclusion of 3,829-feet of elevation gain in the past 17-miles was here at the saddle and marmots peered from lumber mill sawed planks and chipmunks stretched tall holding onto the purple plant of the fireweed. Blue sky was transitioning with larger fluffs of white as we headed south into an exposed drainage with steep walled sides and water damned down its middle from the flat tailed swimmers that could gloat of their accomplishments. One clap of thunder … BANG! And just above our head a bolt of lightning. Scrambling to the nearest and tallest trees, two foot tall willows, rain gear came out of hiding and the backpack rain cover was fitted for gear protection. I snuggled my way deep into the willow depths … waited … and considered the skyline. A half hour passed and it didn’t look that bad so we determined to move on. CRASH! Thunder clapped again. And, we waited.
Once the afternoon thunderstorm danger had passed we strapped our hip belts and continued upward. Sweaty in jackets I heard a call I’d not before heard and moments later the howl of a wolf. Scanning the upward slope I glassed for movement but found none. Moments later an eight point elk was seen grazing amongst the willows on the opposite slope of the valley. Another reason to stop and observe.
Marmots aplenty could be seen sunning near their rocky abodes. Unlike their pika friends, each was in no rush, worry or concern for the upcoming winter months. Then it was the surprise of two moose near one of the dammed tubs in the valley center that allowed for exchanged glances of observation.
Nearly four miles of undulating up and down we reached the final unnamed pass for the day despite the delays of flora and fauna that are part of the grand experience. Clouds were again building as we crossed to the other side of another spectacular landscape where ridgeline after ridgeline sprang forth with a shade lighter than the one behind. Far in the distance I could see a ribbon of trail clinging to the slope of a minor bump.
Plodding a few miles further exchanging raincoats for none, trail tread with unexpected trail junctions and the secret depths of hidden lakes vied for attention. The silence was calming and soothing as the trail again began climbing above a field where certainly elk must graze.
In the pocket of a curve of the trail a spring bursts with clear cold water running hidden beneath mossy rock and climbing willow leaves. A tidy overlook of a trickling waterfall surrounded by peaks too numerous to name is steps further where we position our tent out of sight and with expansive views into yet another drainage that meanders west then north.
We’ve determined to have dessert first and then lentils for dinner as we gulp one liter each of juice in the silence of the setting night. Soon, the temperatures begin slowly dipping and one by one the stars shine in the grassy meadow scent of the night.
ABOUT US AND OUR ROUTE:
Together, Boone and I have over 30,000-miles of backpacking experience. We made a conscious decision to hike over 20-miles per day to reach our goal for this particular hike. We would not recommend you do the same but instead that you take the time to enjoy the grandeur of the divide.
Our route followed the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail beginning at Spring Creek Pass and coincided with the guidebooks related to both trails.
If you would like more specific information pertaining to the planning details of this particular hike please contact Stacy at email@example.com.