Day 1: Montezuma Pass to Mile 16.6
I started my trip a day early to avoid some weather and so glad I did!
Arriving at Montezuma Pass at 8 am, the weather was cold and very windy! I connected with Jim on Facebook two days prior and planned to start both of our first time thru hike together this morning. After I said my goodbyes to Jen and Quartzi, I started on the trail. Up! and more up into the cold and along a path that was surprisingly narrow in places. It took a couple hours to get to the summit at Miller Peak at 9,090 feet. We ran into two guy who were stopped there who introduced themselves as Tik Tok and Terry, both from Washington. We didn’t stay up there too long because it was getting even colder so the four of us took off down the North side of the mountain.
Not long after we hit our first spot of snow, slush and ice. It was difficult trying to not fall off the side of the mountain in places and in between ice patches and in other areas I had to walk through mud, often sliding in it. My feet became cold, wet and muddy by the time we reached Bathtub Springs to filter some water. After filling up we continued down down down. Along the way we saw two deer. At around 5:30 we found a nice spot to camp at around 6,000 feet in elevation at Wilderness Boundary and parking. I set my tent up underneath a large tree with some some soft dirt underneath. By the time I got my tent set up, had some food and got ready for bed it was already dark. I slept about 4-5 hours off and on, often waking up to the wind and coyotes howling in the distance. Around 4 am it became very chilly and it was hard to keep the warmth inside my quilt.
Day 2: Mile 16.6 to Mile 35
While packing up camp in the morning a guy was hiking past and introduced himself as Jeff (aka Hawaii Fast) who said he was planning on completing 40 miles today. That put him in Patagonia in only two days! I didn’t see him anymore today. We started hiking day 2 at 7:30 following some dirt forest roads along some really pretty trees and I saw two deer miles in.
The trail started off so nice just following some dirt roads and gentle terrain through grassland. Such a nice break after yesterday. We stopped for a few minutes at Passage 2 Trailhead while we ate a snack and hydrated for the water source coming up. The next water source was Parker Lake Creek and it was actually cold running water! Even though we still had a ways to go for the day I wanted to soak my feet for a few minutes and it felt amazing. I filled up with 5.5 liters of water since we had a plethora of miles before the next opportunity. After wards it was up, up, up and it was getting warmer with each step even though we were going back up to 6,000 feet. For some reason this climb seemed just as hard as day 1, but probably because I was tired. At the top of the mountain I ran into tik tok and terry and we all took a nice lunch break and caught our breaths. I was so thrilled to have that climb done and over with… until I saw we had another one.
After the lunch break, I think I spaced out. The sun was getting to me and the constant pain in my left trap from carrying the heavy bag. Every hour I had to stop and take the bag off for a minute to relieve the pain. Then I’d hike again for another hour and repeated this process for hours. The sun was slowly starting to go down and we had one last climb for the day and into the sun. Although it was only a 1,000 foot climb, there were not a lot of switchbacks and I kept my eyes focused ahead until I made it to the top. The other three took off on the way down as I slowly made each step since my legs were so tired. The last mile seemed to take forever but finally I made it to camp! I wasn’t planning on eating because I was so tired after a 19 mile day but as I was setting up my tent my stomach had other ideas so I had two dinners! I somehow fell asleep to more coyotes and Tik Tok snoring away in his tent.
Day 3: Mile 35 to Patagonia
This morning we all woke up at 6 am, packed up camp while having coffee and a bagel. At 7:20 we took off on a cool cloudy morning. I oddly felt refreshed after getting a couple hours of solid sleep in between howling coyotes and took off down the path at a good speed. We had one small hill with switchbacks then all downhill and through some beautiful grasslands. The hike was fairly easy for the first 10 miles with small ups and downs. I still had to take my bag off every three miles but the cool air made it better. We stopped at a water cache in the middle of cow poop central but the water was ice cold and not too bad after filtering it. The cow there was nice enough to let us get our water before she had her turn. The guys had a light snack but I was too grossed out to eat in that area! The rest of the day had two climbs that seemed straight up but it was far easier with only 2.5 liters on my bag instead of 5! Again I fell behind everyone but I was sliding all over the dirt and rocks on the steep decent. I caught up to them about a mile later at the trailhead. They had a trail angel stash some water for them there and offered some to me..hooray I was thirsty! Once full we walked three painful miles along the paved road into the town of Patagonia. I was able to get my first resupply box at the post office and checked in to the town hotel.
Once in the room all I wanted to do was shower and relax but that didn’t happen. I had to unpack my trash, clean out some of my gear, restock my food and other various things. Then I showered! Jim was able to talk two girls into driving us to the laundry mat down the road and thank goodness because I had my sandals on. Apparently it was only a one way ride though and had to walk the half mile back. Ouch! But I had clean (still wet) clothes. In the evening, Tik Tok and Terry were so kind and bought us dinner. By 7:00 I got back to the room in time to finally get this posted for everyone!
Tomorrow we all head towards Colossal Cave, about 60 miles away. Our target day of arrival is Friday or Saturday and I’ll update when I have WiFi again! Thanks everyone for reading 🙂