Leaving the warmth of our cozy room at the Frontier Motel was tough. An exceptionally cold day was beginning, and once on trail we would spend most of it above 10,500 feet.
As we walked the road to the Los Pinos trailhead, thick grey clouds drifted low wrapping up the mountains and hiding them from view. We walked a residential street quickly becoming aware of how many dogs lived in the area. They would bark as we passed by but most were fenced in. We arrived outside of one house and three beautiful farm dogs ran down the driveway and right at us. One dog in particular became quite fond of us and tried to follow us all the way to the trailhead. He played a pretty pitiful act when we told him to go home. Being dog people and missing our own dog, we have to admit it was borderline heartbreaking. Finally, a good two miles away from his home, the dog turned around leaving our company.
We continued on to the trailhead where we left dirt road and entered trail.
The trail was beautiful. Winding through large pines and aspen groves, we crossed flowing streams as we gradually climbed. Snow pack mounds started to pop up like large ant hills. The trail itself was beginning to disappear under several inches, then a few feet of snow. We stepped cautiously through the fresh snow following what was left of the dissolved shoe prints from the previous day.
Jeremey caught up to us during the climb, and we hiked with him to the top. As we climbed higher, more snow came into the picture, and with more snow came more water. Our warm, dry feet soon became cold, wet feet, and everyone went quiet, keeping our eyes to the trail and heads down. It was cold, really cold- the type of cold that hurts.
As excited as we were to make elevation, now we wanted to lose it.
We wanted to hike faster but with numb fingers and brick-like toes we could only move so fast. We finally rounded a corner and began our descent. It was beginning to get late, and even though we were not dealing with as much snow, now the obstacle was a graveyard of fallen trees.
We fumbled our way down, trying to stay on trail as best we could, and we could see the sunset hitting the valley below.
A flat field was finally found, and without hesitation or discussion, we ran over to an appealing plot and set up camp. Finally, we had the warmth of our sleeping bags and a shield from the frigid air.
Cheers to warm hearts even when the toes grow cold.
Garbelly & Critter