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Hwy 84 crossing (688.4) to 709.0 on redline (20.6 miles)
Our hotel offered a shuttle to the trailhead so no hitchhiking today. The Highway 84 trailhead is 35 miles south of Chama. We (Feral and I) got dropped off and started hiking at 8:40.
Our very first stop was to get water which was near the trailhead. Feral has shin splints so is planning less miles per day than me. Though he is a faster hiker, I passed him several hours later when he was taking a break and did not see him the rest of the day.
The first part of the day was like a farewell to New Mexico high desert as it transitioned to more typical Colorado-like mountain conditions. This included stands of aspen trees, which I love seeing. With the storms yesterday, the trail was a little muddy but not bad. It was warm and beautiful all morning.
The first goal (don’t be surprised) was a spring about 14 miles into the hike. Most of the day was spent climbing, but never steep, just steadily increasing in altitude.
The weather forecast called for a chance of rain every afternoon during the week. Sure enough, rain clouds threatened in the early afternoon, but luckily no thunder. It did rain, but only lightly for about an hour, not heavy enough to put on rain gear.
With the rain it cooled off some. Additionally, it brought out some elk. I scared up a herd of nine at one point, and saw several others before they ran into the trees.
The spring was piped and had clear cold water. Wonderful. I was doing well even with the late start. Using the topo map, I selected a promising area for camp at about 20 total miles for the day.
It was beautiful hiking the rest of the day. Some was in trees, some was across wide open areas across high ground. Comments in Guthook indicated much of this was snow covered just weeks ago. Not now. Definitely some wet areas remaining from snow melt, but that was all.
I grew a little concerned approaching the area I wanted to camp for two reasons. First, there were a lot of blow downs and deadfall, not leaving many areas to set up a tent, or if so with the concern of dead branches falling. Second, a nearby thunderstorm threatened. However, I came across an area mixed with aspen and pines with open spaces. The storm did lightning and thunder nearby, but only produced a little rain where I set up. As if often the case, coyotes seemed to signal my presence as it grew dark.