Tucked away in a dense grove of trees, our little orange home began to glow as the sunlight began to stream through the branches and the leaves. During the night, there was not threat of bears, because even they would not have been able to squeeze between the tree trunks. It was cold, but the excitement of what our day would bring us warmed us up enough to get out of our sleeping bags.
After we packed up our bags, we headed up the trail to grab a few liters of water from a cow trough we had seen on the map. To our surprise, a few hundred yards before the trough, we ran into Jeremy who let us know about a snow melt stream just behind where he had camped. Next to the stream, an old pipe was shooting out ice cold water, so of course we filtered a couple liters from here instead and headed up the steep incline. A mile or so up the trail the pines turned to aspen meadows and the graded forest service road turned to lightly traveled single track trail. It was a very steep and mostly snow covered trail, but it was beautiful. After leaving the timberline and with every couple of steps, we turned to look behind us, the plateau above Grants sat thousands of feet below.
The trail went straight up for about a mile, reached a false summit and wrapped around the north side. Here we found large mounds of snowpack and the trail still covered in the previous days fresh snow. Each step on this quickly melting snow would have us sliding back half a step. It was like walking in cold sand. We made progress but it was slow going.
Finally, just when we thought the mountain would never top out, we reached a barbed wire gate (must be for the alpine cattle). A few hundred yards after this gate we had finally come to the summit! Here we found a sign that read "Mt. Taylor Elevation 11,301," and not one, not two, but five other hikers at the top. It is true- other people do hike the CDT and we were pretty sure we had found all of them.
The top of the mountain was very interesting. At the very peak, there was a four foot deep hole with a fifteen foot diameter. We all sat inside this pit to escape the wind and get a quick bite to eat.
As we left the summit and headed down the north side, we were greeted by snow, more snow.
Just as we started to get the hang of this particular snow pack, Critter walked out on a large mound of snow. She paused for a few moments before heading down the steep decent. One step down the slope and her right leg slid waist deep into the snow and her left leg never broke the surface. We both began laughing uncontrollably. Garbelly heightening the situation by throwing a snowball while Critter was immobile. Still laughing, she pulled her leg out and we both continued down the mountain laughing the whole way. On trail, it is easy to get down about things or even mad at the trail conditions and weather. Sometimes the best medicine is to just laugh your way through the difficulties and find a positive in every situation. However, miles of this type of post holing may become less funny, but we will save that for Colorado. Good gear, strong willpower, and laughter can get you from Mexico to Canada.
We got back on snowless trail heading down to a forest service road. We followed the road until blue blazed trees appeared in front of us diverging from the road. Following the blazes down a trail, we came to a fence housing American Spring. We filtered delicious tasting, cold water, while we enjoyed the solitude and peacefulness of the field housed in tall pines.
As we left the field and the spring, Garbelly saw walking across a fallen tree laid over a part of the fence as the only way out, while Critter walked through an opening in the same fence laughing smugly at him.
Tonight our home was beneath a few piñon pines and it overlooked a beautiful brown cow pond. We ate our dinners in a field with no shortage of cow patties, but that has yet to phase us. We take care not to let our food or skin touch any visible cow poop and that is about as sanitary as our eating area gets. We ate some hummus and tortillas for an appetizer and the usual mac and cheese and a Pasta Sides for dinner. We watched the sun set as dark clouds moved across the sky refracting vibrant pinks and purples. Our faces illuminated by the beautiful light, we reflected on our day as the sun set over the murkiness of the pond.
Cheers to embracing the dirt and the grime because they come along with the beauty.
Garbelly & Critter