County road 343 to Mt. Princeton Hot Spring Resort.
We get up and Ed cooks us some eggs with pizza sauce from last night. A sort of pizza omelette. It’s delicious. He’s also got a thermos of hot coffee which I mix with 2 carnation breakfast essentials to make a caffeinated mocha drink.
We hit the trail at 8 am as we are only going about 11 miles to Princeton Hot Springs Resort where Ed is going to meet back up with us and drive us into Buena Vista for a resupply.
The morning walk is a 1000 foot climb and then levels out pretty good for much of the day. We mostly hike together, talking and taking pictures of the beautiful wildflowers that are growing on the open hillsides. Skyrocket, bellflowers, scarlet beardtongue and Indian paintbrush are the favorites. I talk to Leah a bunch about her travels and I get the urge to travel abroad. She was in Turkey for 6 months and it sounds amazing. I want to eat a ton of food from different cultures. I may have a chance to go to Thailand this winter and it doesn’t take long for her to convince me to visit Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia while I’m over there if I get to go.
We hit a road around late morning/ early afternoon and follow it down several miles to a desert valley. The plant life and scenery is pleasantly different and even though the shade is gone, it isn’t uncomfortable. We walk across a parched field and find some more bones for Rapunzle. She’s tying them all to her pack and is going to keep them as a fun, if creepy trail momento.
As we walk into Princeton Hot Springs we can see some pools and a water slide with kids running around and sliding down it. We get to the general store and lay in the shade on a perfectly manicured patch of grass. I get a big bratwurst to eat before Ed shows back up. He takes us into town and the first place we stop is a brewery. We all get some good beer and I get a dozen chicken wings. We laze around there, charging phones, digesting. The next stop is an outfitter. Leah has been wearing minimalist Altras and her feet are hurting pretty bad so she gets a new pair of shoes. On these rocky trails you definitely want a thick soled shoe or you’ll be feeling all the sharp pointy rocks.
The next stop is the City Market. Just another name for Krogers. We get some more food to last us until Gunnison and then we jump over to an ice cream shop and get some cones. We are so spoiled today. And the fun isn’t even over. Next stop, hot springs! We head back to the trail where it meets the hot springs resort and for $18 we get to soak in natural hot springs that have been diverted into a 105 degree pool and a 95 degree pool. There is also a cold, rocky stream near the pools as well where hot water pours in. You can sit in the stream with icy water on you while being blasted by a stream of hot water coming from a pipe above. We go back and forth between the different waters, very relaxing and hopefully good for our sore muscles and tendons. It certainly feels good on them. We hop out and then sweat ourselves out in a sauna room. It’s hard to breathe in it but it sure feels good. We laugh about how it smells like feet. Then we take a shower and dry off before heading back to the trailhead.
It’s getting dark as we walk to a campsite. The mosquitos are out in full force. The worst I’ve seen yet. We set up in twilight but the moon is very bright tonight too. You can see large, jagged, crumbly white mountains in the moonlight nearby. We eat and chat until we’re too tired and call it a very relaxing day. Hey, we’re on vacation after all!
Roof kittens at Princeton Hot Springs!