Day 4 – FS Rd-560 Trailhead to Long Gulch

6-Mile long meadow
6-Mile long meadow

Day 4 – Monday July 6th, 2015

Start Time: 08:25   End Time: 19:00

Miles Hiked: 15.4   Total Miles: 58.1

CT Sections: 4-2.2 > 5-1.0

Today was beautiful and miserable.  It rained lightly last night, so we packed the tent rain fly slightly damp.  The dry nature of the campsite helped keep our other gear dry and condensation free.  The first five miles were steep and sustained as we climbed toward and exited the western edge of Lost Creek Wilderness and entered a long, winding six-mile meadow.  The trail became narrow with grass and flowers that frequently leaned over the trail and brushed against our legs as we walked by.

Bear claw damage to an aspen tree
Bear claw damage to an aspen tree

We hiked for a mile with a section hiker named Michaela who is earning her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in Virginia (didn’t catch the school name).  A small creek ran down the water slide shaped meadow and made the low center-section a dense marsh replete of willow, grass and wildflowers.  Not long after entering the meadow, skies darkened, temperatures dropped, and heavy rain intermixed with thick fog and drizzle ensued for the remainder of the day.  The Colorado Trail followed the eastern high-edge of the meadow and seldom passed beneath the cover of trees or through drier forested areas.  Without a thick layer of pine needles and forest duff to absorb moisture, the trail transformed into a muddy stream, and saturated grass provided a highly efficient water droplet transport mechanism that delivered tiny showers to our once dry shoes with every passing step.

Wildflowers
Wildflowers

After six wet, miserable, but beautiful miles, we neared our intended campsite only to find it was already occupied…onward again.  The trail dropped to the end of section 4 at Wellington Lake Road, and after failing to find a suitable campsite, we continued up the other side of the valley and into section 5.  In an effort to escape yet another heavy rain, we setup our tent in a small flat area, but later relocated .3 miles up trail to a much better location.  We went to bed with rain beating on our now wet and dirty tent, fully soaked shoes, and saturated rain gear that no longer adequately separated us from the onslaught…but we were ecstatic to be in dry clothes and sheltered from the rain.

Hiking in the rain
Hiking in the rain

 

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