Trail Zealot

Colorado hiking, Appalachian Trail thru-hiking, and more...

Day 14: Horns Pond Lean-tos to Spaulding Mountain Lean-to

Appalachian Trail
June 26, 2013
Mileage18.6 (201.7) mi
Elevation gain7020 ft
Elevation loss7020 ft

Currently sitting in the lean-to...

My plan for today was to hike less than I did (remember yesterday?) but excitement got the better of me again. I got some spring water near the lean-to on the advice of Brick House, a girl staying at the adjacent lean-to. It was amazing, just like she said. It looked awful at the source, but in my bottle, it rocked my world. It was a pretty uneventful five-mile hike down to the road to Stratton. I didn't put on bug dope and I was viciously swarmed, but that's neither here nor there. I quickly got a hitch from a fly fishing guide and his pupil. I went to jump in the back of his truck but he let me sit in the cab. I was happier than a dog on a road trip. In Stratton, I restocked on food then had first lunch, which was a sandwich, a soda, and an ice cream bar. I went to the library to upload this blog, then I rolled back down the street for second lunch in the diner. It was really friendly and I talked to the workers since it was slow. Then Brick and her step-dad came in from the other room. I saw clouds rolling in so I was anxious to hitch back to the trail, but the conversation was nice (real people!!).

The beer in town that carried me 13 more miles
The beer in town that carried me 13 more miles

I got a ride back from a stereotypical Canadian; he was super nice and told me all about moose. The trail ahead was a sustained climb out of the gap, but I was fueled up and ready for the challenge. Thunder rumbled and I quickened my pace. Near the top of Crocker Mountain, the rain started. It got harder as I neared the top. Happy Ending, one of the Stoners with Boners crew, has a term for such situations, which I will euphemistically refer to as a "hate frick". As in, "Boy those next mountains look tough, but we're just gonna hate frick it and get over them." Anyways, I believed myself to be in a hate frick situation. I had to get over Crocker to my campsite. So I slogged along as the rain got harder, as it trickled down my neck, as it started to soak my back. Soon the trail was a stream. I hiked faster to stay warm. That's when I realized: I wasn't overheating for once! My body running hot has long been a curse. Sweating in dress clothes, soaking thin T-shirt armpits, you name it. But today this trait was my greatest asset. I cruised up over North Crocker, South Crocker, down into a notch, over the shoulder of Sugarloaf Mountain (summit trail to the side? Forget that.), and over Spaulding Mountain. I was at this lean-to, six miles farther than my goal, around 7:30, way later than I like to hike. But here I lay, next to 5 other hikers. Somewhere along the line I decided to shoot for the next lean-to, but we'll never know exactly when that happened. Also, I saw a fox yesterday.

Interactive map and elevation profile

All photos