• Brandon A. Kelone

The Colorado Trail: Day 24

Oh how it rained today. It rained and it rained and it rained and it rained. And when it finally came to a stop, it was only so that the sky could take a big long breath before raining again. 

The rains started last night, but they weren’t heavy. Enough to wake me up, but light enough that I could get back to sleep afterwords. And when I finally woke up this morning to start my hike, the skies were only overcast. I had set my alarm for 5:30 this morning because I wanted to cover a lot of miles today, but somewhere around midnight I woke up to the falling of rain and promptly reached up to turn off my alarm. I realized that without my morning tea an early start wasn’t going to happen. Instead I awoke when the sun started to brighten the day and squirrels started to chirp. I’ll miss waking up to their incessant chirping. 


I was on trail at around 7 this morning and expected that since there was a water source a mile away from where I camped that I’d find a lot of hikers bunched up there camping by the creek, but there were none. In fact, I saw very few thru hikers today. I did stop and talk to two of them though—one guy who has never done any long hiking before, and another who actually started in Durango the day after I started, but he had to come off trail a week into it due to a foot injury and he’s come back to the trail (this time going SOBO) with a new pair of shoes in hope of getting to where he left the trail earlier in the month. 


There was a time when I was seeing up to 20 thru hikers per day, but anymore it’s only about 2-5 a day. The season is getting late. The aspen leaves are taking on their fall colors and some of them have shed their leaves all over the trail. And maybe it was the cloud coverage today, but even though I’m in lower elevation now, it feels like the fall. It’s funny though, because I spent a lot of today reflecting back to the 21st of last August. I remember it because it was a special day for me. It was the morning of the total solar eclipse. I drove 15 hours north of Arizona to watch it happen at the top of a mountain in Grand Teton National Park and then spent the next three days backpacking the Tetons and Yellowstone. In so many ways that trip felt like a beginning for me, but here I am on that same day, a year later, and it feels like an end. An end to the trail and an end to the summer. Like I wrote last night however, that end doesn’t hurt like it did at first. I guess that I just had to go through a stage of denial to reach this state of acceptance where I am now. 


The rain finally came in the late morning, at first light, and sort of off and on. But by one o’clock a major thunder storm rolled in and started pelting me with hail. The hail only lasted a short while before it became heavy rain though. That storm lasted around an hour, then gave me a break for lunch, and then something much heavier began. It probably rained for 4-5 hours. At times the thunder was everywhere and lightning strikes were more frequent than I’d have liked them to be. My feet became soaked and caused me to be cold for much of the day, but my rain gear and umbrella kept my body mostly dry. Still, the soaking feet were not fun to deal with. There wasn’t much that I could do about that though because the rain fell hard enough that in places the trail was more like a flowing stream and I couldn’t help but walk right through it. 


Towards the end of the day the rain cleared out again and gave me about one hour of reprieve, but as I got to a small stream where I set camp it started back up again right as I was setting my tent, and since then there has been a steady pattering on my rainfly. Most of my gear is dry, and I’m pleased to have one last pair of clean clothes (including a set of clean, dry socks!) that have made a world of difference for me. 


I expect that rain will continue tomorrow, which isn’t exactly what I’d hoped for from my last full day on the trail, but I’ve survived everything up to this point and I expect that I’ll make it through tomorrow as well. From there I’ll have a half a day to get to Denver, and then back to the real world. Already I’m trying to figure out logistics of how to get back to Arizona. I have a friend who can give me a ride, but not until 5 days after I arrive... and the hostel in Denver is $40 a night, so I’m thinking that taking a bus or flight back home is going to be my best bet. Anyways, I’ll try to let those worries stay where they belong, which is a day and a half in the future. In the meantime, rain or shine, I’m hoping to enjoy my last full day on the trail tomorrow. Although my body is tired from my longest mileage day of the hike so far, my spirit is still high and I’m glad that the trail is yet to see its end. 


All the love, 


Wormwood.