The end is in sight for Chris Townsend as he heads into the storm after a brief respite on his Colorado hike.
I watched Andrew head off down into the forest. I was grateful for his company and the food he’d brought. It was good not to have to descend to a town to resupply. Thanks to Andrew I’ve had twelve days in the wilds. The trail led along the Divide at over 12,000 feet and with glorious views all around.
That night I camped on a high saddle, revelling again in the views. Soon though the trail descended into the lower Cochetopa Hills, a gentler softer landscape of vast meadows and forested hilltops. After the excitement of the dramatic alpine country I found the walking here more contemplative. Often I walked quietly for hours, soaking in the soft beauty, unaware for how long and how far I’d walked.
Reality did intrude though. This is dry country and cow country. Water sources are far apart and unsafe to drink without treatment. Often I carried over two litres and had dry camps. An unexpected saviour did emerge, a trail angel with fresh water and a cooler of soft drinks. Angel Apple provides this for two weeks every year at this time, when the majority of through-hikers pass by. We chatted about Ben Nevis, which he had climbed on a visit to Scotland. Sometimes it seems a small world.
After several days the trail climbed again, back above the forest to the vast vistas of the alpine peaks. Again there was excitement, this time from the weather as thunder rumbled and dark clouds towered overhead. Suddenly I felt very small as I scuttled rapidly between sheltering thickets of willow and stunted firs.
The food Andrew had brought I descended to the pleasant little town of Creede, where I’m staying in the same motel as in 1985 on my CDT walk. It feels familiar. After a rest day here I’m heading up into the San Juan Mountains for the last stage of my walk. The forecast is for storms. It could be an exciting ending.
Our gear editor Chris Townsend is now almost three weeks into a 450-mile hike along the mountainous spine of Colorado. Read his first update from the trail here.