I had been skeptical about how warm my wet feet would stay in these wet, cold conditions with merino wool socks under my soaked Lone Peak trail runners. I had a couple pairs of merino wool socks, plus a pair each of untested waterproof Sealskinz and Injiji toe socks liners. Although totally wet, my merino socks kept my feet surprisingly warm the first day, right up until I stopped hiking. Then they were immediately cold until I got on a dry pair. The next morning I decided to try the toe sock liners under the merinos as suggested; figuring my feet would again be soaked soon after that afternoon’s rain and probably blister. Probably two minutes into my hike I thought I could easily step stone across the shallow Bear Creek to at least start the day dry. But I caught a trekking pole on a branch, dropped it in the creek, and it started to float away. I had no choice but to wade down the creek after it; I needed both poles to set up my trekking pole tent. My shoes, socks, and feet were soaked right from the start, but once I again stayed warm all day until I stopped hiking. I never hiked in the Sealskinz or even brought them again, but they were great to slide my wet, wrinkled, & shivering feet into after I got to camp.
I saw another pair of hikers headed back towards Denver, the only others I saw on this trip after leaving Waterton Canyon. I started the climb up from Bear Creek and began to enjoy the solitude. I stopped to take in the view of the clouds over a distant rocky peak, but it wasn’t long until I felt a light rain. On the way down I could see the valley along the South Platte, but hurried my pace as I saw the rain turn to snow.
Like the day before, it began to rain heavily right as I set up my tent. With rain and possible snow in the forecast I had opted to bring my more waterproof silpoly Xmid instead of my silnylon Tiger Wall tent. I had a little trouble getting the stakes to hold in the rain-saturated ground ground at first with the wind and freezing rain, but thankfully I stayed dry inside and appreciated the extra space in my Xmid 2p for the next 12 or so hours. I used up every inch of my interior ridgeline hanging my wetted-out rain gear and socks. My rain gear dried out pretty well but I started the next day in wet socks, which again kept me warm as long as I kept moving. I was now a convert of the toe sock liners inside merino socks. My favorite new gear, however, were my EE down booties. The worst part of the next morning; and most others after that, was when I had to take off my gloves to pull my stakes out of the cold, muddy ground and roll up my wet tent. Nothing like freezing wet fingers to start my day.