Winter Park (31_206 R)
Day 82 – 7/12/17
Miles – 15.9
Total miles – 1142.2
It rained all night. Not what we expected! We excepted the rain to last for a little while and then clear. That has been the weather pattern in both New Mexico and Colorado on this trip. Briefly, the rain stopped when we woke up and ate breakfast. Despite the rain throughout the night, we slept well. However our sleeping bags were wet from the condensation inside the tent. It was still a dark cloudy gray when we got out of the tents. Gloomily, we knew we were in for a wet day of hiking. We moved all our gear to dry spots under the thickest trees. This was a great camp with many thick trees to shelter us. As we were packing, the clouds started to rain again. Once packed, we started down the valley, in rain. We moved quickly until we had to cross the river with no logs or rocks to aid us. This meant taken our shoes off and wading across the frigid water in the rain. Not what we expected! With much grumbling, we put on our Crocs and crossed. The feet throbbed from the coldness of the water. On the far side of the river, there were no trees to hide under to give us a chance to dry our feet off. We kept the Crocs on until we found the one tree in the meadow. After putting our shoes back on, we continued on. At the bottom of our drop, we came to another crossing, and we had to repeat the process again. This time there was a new, large, beautiful log barn just on the other side of the river. Not what we expected! Bling saw a moose at one end of the barn, but unfortunately it was gone when the rest of us arrived. We got underneath the eaves of the building to dry off. By this time, the rain had stopped, but the clouds hung low and heavy in the sky. We knew this was only a temporary reprieve. Leaving the barn, we hiked up over 2,000′ in 2.5 miles on a dirt road. At the top, we rejoined the CDT. We were on an alternate route out of Silverthorne. With solid trail now, we headed out on another ridge walk. The whole time we kept a close eye on the clouds. For right now, the darkest ones were to the West and South. We headed north and then East around the head of a valley. For several hours, we traversed over high alpine meadows and rocky outcrops. Thankfully, it did not rain during this period. Clouds did roll in and we would be surrounded by fog. It was very pretty. Finally, upon reaching the far side, we reentered low wind-swept trees. As we went east, we stopped at the first place we could get water, a spring. Just as we began to get drinking water, it started to sprinkle. We hiked a short distance to find a good location to eat out of the rain. Sitting under the protection of trees, the sun even came out a few times. Now with energy and high hopes, we set out on our second up of the day, a 1,000′ climb back up above the trees. This time the clouds did not hold back and the rain came down and the wind picked up. Not what we expected! Shrouded in fog and rain we hiked to the top of Stanley Mountain. Then came three miles of ridge walking, in sideways rain. The rain grew harder as time passed. Finally, we came to the far side of the ridges and we headed down into the trees. That protected us a bit. We stopped to regroup and we could hear cars down below. We were close to the bottom, Hwy 40 at Berthoud Pass. We walked to the road and crossed to a parking lot. On the far side of the parting lot, was a building. Great we could squeeze under its eaves and get a bit out of the rain and cold. The building was dark as we approached. We found enough room to get out of the rain. Papa Raven tried the door and it opened. Not what we expected! Motion sensitive lights turned on. A corridor led to a larger room with benches around the perimeter and it was warm inside. Given it was in the low 40’s and raining outside this was heaven. Now what do we do? It is pouring hard rain outside. The Ravens are saturated from head to foot. Even our sleeping bags were still wet from last night. It was six o’clock in the evening, still plenty of day light left for more hiking. However, the next section of trail climbed up over 13,000′ where it would be even colder. A sign said, the building was a “warming hut” for anybody that needed to come out of the weather. There also were bathrooms attached. We could stay right here in the hut and sleep on the floor, even though it says no camping. The town of Winter Park was 14 miles to the North, but we did not have cell service to call for a ride. We could stand in the rain to hitchhike, but our experience of hitchhiking is that very few people want to or have the space in their car for four people and their backpacks, especially ones that are soaking wet. A few people stopped to use the restroom. One was a mom with three young kids. She asked if everything was ok. We told her our problem and she said that she would call someone to come and pick us up. As we waited, the rain came down harder and harder. The temperature dropped. Mama Raven said that tonight we are not going to pitch a tent outside in this weather. Despite the sign that says no camping, we will sleep in the hut if no ride arrives. An hour later a ride showed up and we were off to Winter Park and a dry room and hot showers to thaw out. Not what we expected! It ends up, Cassidy, which is the mom that called a taxi to pick us up, paid the fifty dollar taxi ride. Mama Raven had an opportunity to thank Cassidy on the phone. Mama Raven asked her how we can repay her the taxi fee. She said we can’t. It was a gift! Not what we expected! On all of our long hikes, the most beautiful thing we encounter is the human heart that regularly reaches out to help complete strangers with kindness and compassion. Sitting in a warm room with gear hanging all about us and having a good Mexican dinner in our bellies is “Not what we expected!”
Cassidy, I am uncertain if we have your name correct. In the hut, we did not get your name. I believe the taxi driver called you Cassidy. If we are wrong, I apologise. Please let us know if we are mistaken by leaving a comment in the blog so we can correct it. Again, thank you for your help!