We were up early and on the road by 8:30. Morgan, Lauren, and the canine pack had us at the trailhead by 10 AM.
Gonzo kept his eye on me the whole ride up. Occasionally, he would drift off in my lap, only to suddenly awaken and lunge away from me. How had my lap snuck up under his head?! He was definitely one of the shyest Heelers I had met.
From Montezuma Pass, we made our way down to the monument at the southern terminus. Cricket hid her water under a bush, but I wanted to get a feel for my loaded pack and never left my most critical desert item where it could be taken. I would be up the creek out here with no water; definitely valuable this close to the border.
Besides, I now live outside NYC and don’t leave anything anywhere!
The gang was gone when we hiked back up to the trailhead, so we began climbing one of the longest climbs on the trail, with one of the highest elevation points. There were even people hiking from Patagonia to “acclimate” and then shuttling back to Patagonia to resume their hike. Crazy, but thru-hiking has definitely lost a little of its challenge with technology and ease of access to services.
The views were fantastic, but daammmnn, that was a long climb! I kept moving but was definitely feeling the elevation at close to 9,000 feet. From sea level to Miller Peak was a kick in the ass!
There was a little slippery snow and ice in a couple of spots, but nothing needing my microspikes, which was good since I did not bring them. Around dusk, we finally arrived at Bathtub Spring. My temperature sensor read 38 degrees, so we set up our tents fast, made dinner, and bundled into our quilts. As the sun dipped behind the trees, the temperature plunged further. It was definitely below freezing by the time I fell asleep, and I was snug in my Sawatch quilt from Katabatic.
It was a good first day, and I let out a big sigh as I prepared for a cold night. My head was wrapped in my puffy, and in addition to my medium dry base layer, I was also wearing my fleece jacket. My legs were fine with shorts, and I had decided not to wear socks since my foot box was so full of Down. I liked to let my feet breathe so the skin would continue to toughen. This would take longer if I wrapped socks around them every night.
Watching the last bit of daylight disappear, I smiled softly. It was always good to be back in the mountains feeling the first aches of a long day of hiking. It would take about two weeks to get my trail legs and for my feet to build their callouses bag out, but a part of me enjoyed the process. Feeling my body adjust and evolve was a good kind of pain.