I lingered in my warm snug sleeping bag as the soft light of morning replaced the stars. Coyotes yowled and sang to one another as I drank my coffee and loaded my pack and set off up the trail. A short climb brought me to the high point of the day’s hike, a saddle with views over the gulf of the upper Rio Grande basin to the serrated peaks of the San Juans. I wound around more mountains and out on to the steppe of Snow Mesa. One of the more unusual geologic formations of the Rockies, Snow Mesa is a steep-sided nearly flat plateau which sits at 12,000 feet and seems like a bit of Mongolia transplanted to Colorado.
At 5 miles across, it would be a terrible place to get caught in a lightning storm, but the morning was fair and I cruised across it while enjoying the expansive views. A couple more miles down a gully brought me to Spring Creek Pass and the highway. I was picked up by the third vehicle that passed, a 40 year old truck piloted by an itinerant guitar player who went from one mountain town to another, playing in bars for drinks and tips.
He dropped me off at the Raven’s Rest Hostel, where I have been catching up on pizza, beers and showers, and enjoying the company of my fellow hikers.