On our drive to the trailhead over the dirt road we were delighted to see several wild turkeys.
Here is where the trail starts:
We packed as we always do -- backpack with snacks and a large water bottle for each of us. As I'm recalling this from memory I wouldn't use my description as a guide! The first hour or so was a very enjoyable hike. The trail was wet in parts. We laughingly joked about this being our first creek crossing.
Some ups, some downs, some parts of the trail were rocky. The rocks made progress slower going for us.
We also walked through a valley that had more undergrowth than we are used to in Colorado. It was also very moist and close enough in one area that we could feel the moisture of the weeds brushing against our legs. In this area we were bothered by mosquitos - another rare occurrence in Colorado. Luckily I just happened to have some spray so I got it out -- first and only use so far! While we were put-zing around, I looked around and there was a lovely deer looking down at us. It ran away before I could snap the magestic frontal photo.
At a sign we turned left onto Powerline Trail. This was the beginning of an endless uphill climb. Luckily we are starting to get used to these, especially after hiking section 16. Although long, we tolerated it quite well. Towards the top we were treated for our efforts with exquisite vistas only God is capable of painting. I got a text from my friend asking me if I was going to make it to sewing. I text-ed her a photo and told her I would when I got off the mountain I was on.
After hiking at the top for a while we descended for a bit and then climbed back up to another crest. Then we began a long continuous downhill trek. It was steeper than the climb up which traversed back and forth across the hill making it easier to climb, but not too steep to make the climb down very difficult. There were some spots where the trail became questionable - like where was it and is this really where we are supposed to descend? There were some beautiful views of rocky mountains that for some reason I didn't take pictures of. I think I was reveling in not climbing up -- a lovely feeling that is only slightly dampened by the new muscles you are using to go down. (-; My husband didn't have the best shoes at this point in our hiking adventures and later his toenail turned purple from constantly hitting the front of his shoes. Next stop - new hiking boots. (-;
Some parts of the trail are well marked.
This is the end of the trail and where two creeks merge. Yes, the end of the trail. So this is where we pulled out our printed instructions and realized we probably should have turned off a while back. There was NO going back from my point of view as I clearly remembered the joy of downhill that lasted seemingly forever (without any switchbacks) and suffered no delusions about what hiking back up it would be like. There was no option to follow the stream on our side of the stream because the stream ran into a rock face. So we took off our shoes and crossed stream one first and then stream two. We thought it was better to have some rocks for balance or we could have just crossed the single merged stream. I had to gather courage for this. I am diabetic and was not fond of the idea of crossing in my bare feet. The rocks under water are slippery. We made it to the other side and there was a wide open spot between trees where it looked like people had camped. We tried to find a trail but there was none and eventually we ran into thick brush and couldn't proceed. Our only option was to cross back over the stream again. We were able to cheat a little (using a downed tree) and didn't have to take off our shoes again, plus we found a stick to cross with.
At one point I became so frustrated upon realizing we had to cross the stream one more time I sheepishly admit that I started crying. My husband, afraid I was going to give up, told me harshly to "Stop it right now". I responded by ... crying harder. Hugs all around. (-; It was in that crossing that I fell into the stream. Instead of quickly jumping out, I sunk into the coolness of it. It was refreshing in the heat. It wasn't until later I realized that I actually hurt myself. My elbow hit a rock and later I looked down to see it was swollen to the size of a golf ball. I could move my arm alright, but it hurt to touch it. If I wasn't in such dire straights I would have enjoyed the scenery more. Gorgeous!
This hike shook my faith in myself. I made the decision that I would make sure my bag was packed for any contingency. Major lessons learned: Find out all you can about the trail your hiking before you go -- read any instructions carefully to know what you might face. Have a topographical trail map and check landmarks around you before you start your hike. We didn't know how close the creek was to our car and so weren't sure if the creek would lead us to the trail head. We thought it would eventually lead us to somewhere civilized. You can also check your landmarks for bearing if you feel you have gone astray from your trail. Have a GPS so you know if you are returning to your starting point. However, a GPS can show you that you have to hike from point A to point B to return to your starting point -- what it doesn't tell you is that there is a rock face you can't hike through -- great reason to keep your topo maps. Have good hiking shoes. Carry extra water for hikes new to you. Wear a hat to protect you from the heat. Know that bug spray is sometimes necessary in Colorado. Water socks and hiking sticks would have been nice to have while crossing the creek. Be prepared for an overnight stay in case someone gets sick or hurt. These days we are much better prepared to hike in the mountains.