Day 1Miles: 27.3
Nathan dropped me off at Waterton Canyon trailhead around 7 a.m. There were three other thru hikers starting just then as well. The first 6 miles of the trail are on a gravel road up a canyon and apparently bighorn sheep are commonly seen there, unfortunately I didn’t see any. The road walk was pretty rough on my legs as the hard flat surface has no give. The views of the canyon walls kept me happy though. There were also some cool windflowers like showy milkweed in bloom.
Near the end of the roadwalk one of the hikers, a girl named Jess, from this morning caught up with me and we started talking and hiking together on and off during the morning. Talked about gear, jobs, past hikes and adventures. We leapfrogged much of the morning.
After the road became a single track hiking trail I ran into a girl named Jasmine who was on her first big hike ever. Seemed like she was having a rough start but she was in good spirits and we ate lunch together.
Just after that I ran into Olivia, a girl who grew up in Kenya and then moved to the states. She was a very cheery hiker and liked to point out animal tracks and marvel at the wildflowers. The two of us hiked together and had the usual hiker talks until we met Jess tending her feet. After a break with some nice views the three of us hiked together for much of the afternoon and evening. It rained a little bit during the afternoon but became hot and sunny in the evening. We walked through a large old burn zone which provided tons of 360 views of lush grass with boulders and wildflowers mixed in. There was Colorado Columbine, some beautiful milkweed unknown to me, and a variety of desert/ arid loving plants. After about 20 miles Olivia decided to call it a day and set up camp. Jess and I continued on as we are both of tight schedules.
We saw a spider wasp swoop in on a huge spider and start stinging it and paralyzing it. The wasp will then drag the poor spider to a burrow where and egg will be laid inside it. The larva will hatch and eat the spider alive from the inside out. Damn nature, you cruel.
Near the end of the day we were both bonking and struggled to get in our last miles to a water spigot on a fire station. Along the way we were treated to a partial rainbow however. After we filled up on water we walked another half mile to a flat area near the trail and set up camp and ate dinner. It’s starting to rain a little now. We can see the big mountains we will climb tomorrow just a few miles away shrouded in clouds. Knees are very tired but everything else feels good. How about some sun tomorrow?!