Day 23: Pushing over the Peaks

Tuesday July 13, 25.8mi/41.5km

Overlook near Corral Draw (447.1/10895ft) to Ridge above Junction Creek (472.9/9045ft) (CO)

I was awake at 6am, to get an early start and get over a couple summits before the forecasted afternoon thunderstorms. I caught the sunrise as I was finishing packing.

Morning miles are my favorite, cool temperatures and nice lighting on the hillsides.

The trail followed a ridge for most of the morning, and occasionally merging with a dirt road.

The view down into the valleys looked like the misty southern Appalachians, due to all the wildfire smoke around here.

This section of trail was quite dry, so the few water sources were well marked.

These ridgewalks were flat, easy, and just plain enjoyable.

And sometimes there are random bones by the trail…

The next water source was also marked, on a log!

I put a leaf in the little trickle of water to make a spout.

I took a quick detour down the overlook trail, it definitely lives up to its name.

The nice ridgewalk continued.

I was making good progress! Only 5 more miles to Kennebec Pass, which means only 3 more miles to get over the two high summits, before the thunderstorms started.

This little piece of graffiti was a nice bit of encouragement.

The ridgewalk continued, and climbed up to 12,000ft, above treeline.

Looking back at what I had just hiked up:

The peaks off to the right looked cool, I think they are the La Plata Mountains.

There was a tiny remaining snowfield on the top of the first summit.

Looking back again:

I left the first summit and continued into the second one, only a half-mile away.

From the top of the second summit, I could see down into Taylor Lake basin.

It was 12:30pm, and clouds were starting to gather, so I quickly descended from the summit, and into fields of wildflowers.

I caught up with Koko! Her name means “Keep On Keeping On”. We had a quick lunch near the lake, and we hiked together the rest of the afternoon.

The clouds were really getting busy now, and I was glad to be going downhill so quickly.

KOKO showed me how to identify wild strawberries! They were delicious.

And we went chasin’ waterfalls. This particular waterfall ended on a wet slab, way less fun than a deep splash pool.

The cliffs were full of weird angular rocks. It kinda reminded me of Devil’s Postpile Monument in California.

We finally got down to Junction Creek, and the skies started raining.

We hiked another mile to a campsite on a hillside, and setup our tents quickly in the light rain. It was only 4:30pm, but it was a good time to stop, and each of us had already hiked 20+ miles for the day. We hid in our tents while each successive wave of stormclouds passed by.

I ate dinner early, and then had a second dinner. I can eat all my extra food, because it’s only 13 miles to the finish and Durango tomorrow!

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