Total Miles: 714.7
Everyone learns differently. Myself? I've always been more visual than auditory, which made a brief time this morning all the more interesting as I became transfixed by the bugling of the resident elk herd. Unmoved by our presence in their valley last night, we awoke to find them sprawled across the high alpine meadows just beneath the Divide, happily grazing away and calling to one another.
It made me think how little I rely on my ears, favoring the input that comes through my eyes instead. So I put my ears to a test: in the span of 10 minutes, how many distinct sounds could I hear? The results are in:
Water rushing down a stream bed.
The wings of an insect that sound like the crackle of electricity.
An unknown and unseen bird chirping.
A pika squeaking like a dog toy.
The howls of a pack of coyotes. Wait, nope, that's the collective bleating of a giant herd of sheep echoing from the other side of the basin.
A breeze rushing through the tall grass, making a whooshing sound.
The grinding of small pebbles beneath my sandals with each step.
The asynchronous clack of trekking poles against rock.
I should open my ears more often. There's a symphony playing if only I might listen.
By the end of my listening challenge, we were eyeing a small stream to do a quick round of sock laundry. Little did we know, this idyllic little babbling brook was the headwaters of the Rio Grande. Somewhere far far downstream, this rivulet that I could straddle without difficulty swells to form an international border.
Just before lunch and after nearly 300 miles together, the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail finally went their separate ways. Turning away from the CT, I could only appreciate the quality of the beautifully engineered trail we'd been fortunate to share these past couple weeks, and wonder how soon we might return to the rougher-around-the-edges trail we'd known prior. That and the absence of fellow hikers. The Colorado Trail was teeming with bikers and hikers of all kinds. Down the CDT, it would be back to solitude.
In a pattern reminiscent of the John Muir Trail, we spent the afternoon climbing up to and then descending from a series of passes, although on a much smaller scale than those found in the High Sierra. And though overgrown for stretches, the trail remained well routed and obvious. Under an absolutely cloudless sky, it was about as ideal as it gets.
With each passing mile, the character of the landscape has begun to shift ever so slightly. The bright velvet green slopes becoming a tinge more brown, the rock of the peaks above becoming more red and crumbled. Mountain West gradually melting into Southwest.
Latitude/Longitude: 37.64817, -107.46238