Total Miles: 773.6
Life is full of curveballs—no different here than at home. Adaptivity, above nearly all else, is a prized commodity when the best plan is to obliterate any plan from your mind. Mike Tyson, the colorful and feared heavyweight champion, said it best: “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Better yet: don’t get punched in the mouth.
In the context of hiking the airy, exposed CDT of Colorado, not getting punched in the mouth translates into avoiding the wrath of the skies each day, navigating the labyrinth of thunderstorms that appear from nowhere and shift unpredictably with the wind. Sometimes that means timing the most exposed portions of the day with the weather, other times it means riding it out below treeline beneath a tarp. And when the threat of lighting has gone and the rain and wind are all that remain, sometimes it means donning the rain gear and braving the tempest. Today, it was all three.
Clouds greeting us in the morning has not been common, but there they were nonetheless. Fortunately, they were the non-threatening variety that gave way to bright morning sunshine just as we began our climb up to the divide. After traversing massive, steep bowls, we paused on the way down to marvel at the seemingly impossible feat of engineering that had built the trail onto such slopes.
By lunch, the obstacle course above our heads had begun to look decidedly more challenging. Just before leaving treeline behind, we pitched a tarp for lunch and rode out a couple of passing storm cells, waiting for a small window to open before embarking on the next stretch that would take us well above treeline for several miles. Just as the window opened and we had set off, it began to close. Rain gear on, watching the sky like looking for a lull in a churning sea.
We paused at the last of the trees and admired strokes of lightning as they streaked to the ground behind curtains of rain, filling the valley a couple of miles away. Convinced that the threat of lightning had moved off to a safe distance, we made a break for it over the most exposed portion of the afternoon. Safely over the highest point, blue sky and sunshine had punched a hole amid the shifting storms and what minutes before had been cold, wet and blustery was now hot and sweaty. A dance that would continue well into the evening.
Latitude/Longitude: 37.50566, -106.87828