Total Miles: 1961.5
Dark and frozen. All the attributes anyone would want in a trail morning...sort of. Kissed by overnight frost, the flat spot we managed to find in the dark had predictably pooled and focused the night’s cold. It was a morning that made me even more thankful for the decision to reincorporate coffee into our routine.
Rising out of our little cauldron of cold, a lengthy climb that will be the last for quite some time pulled us up into the autumn sunshine. It was the kind of day where finding just the right set of layers to be comfortable in was an evolving challenge. Climbing up? Take a layer off. Stop for a break? Layer back on. A sunny, flat stretch? Layer off. The breeze kicks up? Layer back on.
As we finally began the equally lengthy descent that would ultimately lead us to our next stop in the town of Cuba, aspens with golden leaves yielded to Ponderosa pines and eventually to deep red soil and sagebrush. The stark transition down from the brisk temperatures of the high terrain above 10,000 feet was driven home on the exposed switchbacks with nowhere to hide from the heat of the late afternoon sun.
When the anticipation of town begins to grow, the last few miles can feel disproportionally grueling, whether easy or not. What could make it an even greater test of patience? When the trail has been rerouted, but the mileage has not been updated. Bonus miles when food and a shower are on the brain are the worst kind.
At the end of what felt like an excruciatingly long rainbow, with dogs barking both literally and figuratively, we made a final turn onto the main highway that slices through the small town of Cuba. Seemingly trapped in a bygone era, it mattered not at all. Dinner, four walls, a roof, a bed, and a shower. Let the relaxation begin.