Sun 28 Aug 2011
I sauntered through the first 4 miles of the day. I was tired from yesterday’s 23 miles, yes, but mostly I just wanted to savor the last time I’d be above treeline. I climbed over Kennebec Pass and receded down into the trees and retreated into my head. The miles passed by in a fog…a brain fog, that is. Every time I thought about finishing the trail, tears would start flowing so I just tried not to think.
About 3:30 I was approaching my final campsite. I’d decided to spend one last night on the trail before hiking the final few miles. I got to the last campsite at 16.9. Nice campsite. Where’s the water? I continued on another 1/4 mile and found what I guess was supposed to be the water source – an algae filled stagnant swamp. No thanks. My water pump was on the verge of needing a new filter and would just clog with that mess and there was no way I was drinking it unfiltered even with iodine treatment. I continued on 3 miles to the next water source, a fast flowing stream. But no place to camp. The slope was too steep and vegetation too thick. I continued on again, planning to stay at the pay campground just one mile from the end of the trail. I got to the junction for the campground and started heading down the dirt road. Then I looked at the map. Initially it looked like the campground was right on the trail. Now I noticed the road winding around into the campground was a good 1/2 or more plus the distance to the actual campsite could be another mile. As any hiker will tell you – we’ll walk any distance on a trail but don’t want to hike any more miles than necessary when they don’t count as it takes away from the trail miles. So, I said screw it and hiked the last mile of trail out to the trail head and got a ride into Durango where I celebrated with a free beer at Carver’s Brewery and a huge supper. Then back to the hotel and made arrangements to get home.