CT Day 3: A Winter Wonderland (S Platte River to Little Scraggy)

The big parking lot along the South Platte, not far below my soggy campsite, was completely empty. I figured maybe that was normal for a cloudy Tuesday morning with rain & snow possible in the last forecast I had seen. I had no cell service to check for weather updates, and later found that the forecast had been upgraded to a winter storm warning. I knew there was no water until the almost the end of Segment 2, and not yet knowing how much water I needed over a number of miles, I stopped under the Gudy Gaskill Bridge to filter a liter to drink then and three more to carry for the final 12 miles despite the wet conditions.

Segment 2 started out with the heathiest climb so far, but I kept a good pace to try and beat the rain & probably snow that would likely hit me in the early afternoon. I remembered all the videos I had seen of hikers on Segment 2 complaining about starting with this climb then hiking through the exposed burn scar in the summer heat with no water sources. Once I finished the first climb and reached the burn scar, I felt like I was walking through a snow globe. The brown and just slightly muddy trail contrasted against the snow-covered new growth was simply spectacular. Then once I reached the spared forest I was surrounded by perfectly frosted Christmas trees, and the foggy morning added to the mystery of what lied ahead. This was just really fun to hike through. I reached another burned out forest without the snow cover, and I imagined this would be brutal in the hot sun. Then the wet, heavy snow started to come down hard, and I criss-crossed the highway a couple times. The last mile or so I got pummeled by the snow with just enough wind to make it miserable, but I knew I didn’t have far to go. I felt that rush of joy, and knowing no one else was around I played a fun hiking song, “Through the Woods” by the Okee Dokee Brothers on my phone, singing along out loud. I’d learned from a bunch of mistakes over the past three days. But if I could hike the first 28 miles all alone through these conditions, I knew I could hike through about anything else the Colorado Trail had waiting for me. It just wasn’t going to be easy.

I found my old Dodge pickup waiting for me all alone in the Little Scraggy parking lot, and I was happy and even a bit surprised when it started.

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