I had a rant, an introduction, written for this trip. About how the employer, as with most employers, has a cultural expectation that I’ll drop what I am doing for the company’s betterment.
But I could feel the frustration welling up.
Instead, I’ll say a quick Friday night into Saturday overnighter was done. A night out under the stars and in the mountains helps keep those feelings in check. And it allowed me to see a place I typically opt not to in the summer because it is too crowded for my tastes.
I drove up a trailhead an hour from my home. Typically, it is where I will go in winter, more so than summer. The last time I was at this trailhead during the summer was for a similar quick overnighter almost a decade ago.
The trail on a Friday evening was quiet, as I expected.
I soon left the trail and went cross-country to a drainage that led to a trailless lake at the cusp of the treeline.
I arrived at the lake. Much to my chagrin, but perhaps not to my surprise, another person was there. This area is more populated, of course, than in recent years. And I am not the only person who can read a map. 🙂 What did surprise me? A swath of TP blossoms! I resignedly expect TP to blossom on popular trails. But near an off-trail lake? Not so much.
I made up way above the treeline from this lake and skirted some other, higher lakes.
I soon reached the Continental Divide and could see other lakes below.
Not far from here, I spotted a lone backpacker in the distance. Trail runners, light pack, moving at a consistent speed. As we intersected with each other, the hiker recognized me. It was Aaron of Katabatic Gear. Small world! We chatted for about fifteen minutes. He was going a quick loop, in reverse, similar to mine. We’d later bump into each other at the trailhead within ten minutes of him finishing his loop. Smaller world!
I reveled in the terrain. Broad tundra on a ridge, sunny skies, little wind. Perhaps my favorite terrain and conditions to hike in overall. Any frustration was melting away…
The ridge continued to be followed. Remnants of the winter snow could still be seen.
My exit point was soon spotted. It’s time to leave the ridge behind and descend to a set of lakes. Back into the trees. And the end of my trip.
At the middle lake, I was back on a more defined trail. And saw more of the Saturday crowds as expected.
But it was a spectacular Colorado day. People should be out enjoying it.
I started my quick descent to my vehicle. I bumped into a friend of mine who was leading a Colorado Mountain Club introductory backpacking trip. She prompted me to give a quick, lightweight backpacking talk. Now, this was not considered work for me. And the conversation was pretty enjoyable. 🙂
After my quick lesson, I headed back to the car. I spotted Aaron as he was driving away from his parking spot and then changed into comfy cotton.
I looked at my watch and saw I had a few hours before I had to hop online to perform my ’emergency’ work later that evening.
It’s time enough to grab a beer, some lunch, and relax a bit.
The circa 1868 Stage Stop did not disappoint. In recent years, this historic restaurant and bar has been making top-notch food, serving up a good draft beer menu, and is not pretentious. ATVs, bicyclists, Harley Riders, people out for a weekend drive, very local locals, and one filthy backpacker all enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of this place. I highly suggest the Stage Stop for a post-trip nosh. They serve breakfast as well. I’ve never been disappointed anytime I’ve been there.
Some BBQ chicken, two beers, some conversation, and a couple of hours later, it was time to leave.
I made it home, turned around, went online, and spent three hours working. Three hours of work on a Saturday that cost me a three-day trail work weekend. But that’s why I needed an S24O.
And if this trend keeps up? Well, we’ll see what happens… 🙂