Everything was dripping wet this morning – I couldn’t even imagine staying down at river level. We’ll have to remember to air out the sleeping quilt later- in addition to being awfully damp, one of the funny details of sharing a double quilt became apparent this morning: double the quilt, double the garlic farts. Intense.
The trail out of the valley hugged the very edge of crumbling limestone cliffs covered in a rainbow of lichens. Spectacular hiking, but there were still bike tracks from the bike packers here- unfathomable to me. A dozen elk grazed below in the sun on the far side of the valley.
At our first creek we stopped to filter water. Chimney strode up, and sat for a quick visit before heading for town tonight. He and Grizzly Smurf had both camped at the river the night before, who appeared in turn a few minutes after Chimney took off. I enjoyed talking with both of them, but all of a sudden I realized over an hour and a half had gone by. Time to move! Especially for me, since my legs were mind-bogglingly stiff and painful today, dictating long warmups and more breaks. I left Prana and GSmurf deep in conversation.
The upper Lagunitas Campground was small and quite lovely, and I followed the trail to above the lakes, where I had enough cell service to call home. Prana caught up by the time I had all the news, and we headed from there onto a strange sand dune ridge and into some bona fide high country.
We traced the edges of big, broad valleys through sparser and sparser trees, and climbed to a high point the opened the Las Cruces Basin Wilderness below to our right, and offered our first clear glimpses of a high ridgline of snow, close enough to very likely be our route 30 miles north. Snow capped mountains! The San Juans!
The long broad ridge was open and rocky, and a pleasure to traverse surrounded by views. We sat for a snack, and then time slid by again, then Grizzly Smurf joined us as we chatted and watched the open space between us and the mountains.
Across and down the ridge, through some open meadows, conversation filled all of our breaks, and the three of us decided to camp together. One more climb brought us to a nice high camp, hopefully above any condensation.