Campsite on Squaw Creek Trail to a mile south of the CDT on the Lost Creek Trail: 20 miles
Total miles: 810.2
Garrett let me sleep in, and I awoke around 6am. I ate a bagel with peanut butter, then started to get ready to move out of the tent. I put on my hiking shorts, even though it felt freezing outside, and shoved my feet into frozen shoes. Shadow and Mouse were about 10 minutes ahead of us in getting ready, so I went over to tell them we weren’t going to hike west towards Silverton, but instead head north towards Spring Creek Pass just in case we didn’t catch them once they left camp. There were two options to get back to the CDT, and they were taking the western one to meet up with their friends and collect some food in Silverton. They hiked off, and we finished getting ready with cold fingers.
We hiked through the meadow, following Squaw Creek, hoping to get into the sun to help warm-up. After a few miles we finally made it into the sunlight, where we saw Shadow and Mouse shedding some layers. We did the same, and it was a good place to stop, because in the distance we saw a moose. We’ve been seeing scat and tracks since we hiked into the valley, normally that’s all we see if animals, so it was great to see one finally!
We walked ahead of Mouse and Shadow, and made it to the 30 mile campground on the Rio Grande Reservoir for a mid-morning snack. They soon arrived, and we temporarily took over a campsite to dry out our tents from the condensation that built due to camping in a field by a creek night before. The campground host came over and informed us that we owed him $10 for day use of the campground, but he let us slide as I think he could tell we didn’t seem too interested in paying the fee when no signs are posted from where we entered the campground.
After snack, it was a seven mile walk along a gravel road paralleling the reservoir. We stuck with Mouse and Shadow, and stopped for lunch about mid-way. At the Lost Creek Trailhead we said goodbye to Mouse and Shadow. They were continuing west towards Stony Pass and their friends in Silverton, and we were headed to a more northern point in the CDT at Carson Pass, from which we’d have a 17 mile hike into Spring Creek Pass and Lake City. We really enjoyed hiking with them, we’ve never intentionally decided to stick with other hikers on any of our hikes, and it was sad to part ways. Hopefully our paths will cross again!
Our trail was an ATV road, and climbed steeply back into the mountains for about 7 miles before intersecting with the CDT. We stopped for a few breaks, as the day was hot and the water was ample. Since we had plenty of food now that we picked a shorter route, we didn’t feel in any hurry to continue on, and I took the time to dip my sore feet in a cold creek; one of life’s simplest pleasures.
We decided to stop less than a mile from the CDT, in a flat area with water before the final climb to rejoin the trail. Despite rerouting away from the fires, haze filled the valley in the evening and cast a golden glow into the valley. Our campsite was comfortable, but we looked forward to rejoining the CDT the next day.