No out to eat for breakfast this morning. And no late wake up call. Tumbleweed is back on pace so you pack up your tent in the dark while he brews coffee. It was nice being able to sleep in the same spot two nights in a row, but after today’s hike you’ll setup camp at the Chalk Creek Trail Head near Nathrop. You could name this blog Silver Creek to Chalk Creek after the trail heads, but you instead title it after the peaks on either end that everyone you meet on the trail are hiking to.
Today’s hike will be 4 miles longer than yesterday, although over similar terrain. It has about the same elevation gain of around 4500 feet, but loses 1000 feet more at 5500. It has a long downhill finish but you’re not looking forward to it as the final 10K is on a road. You start off slow, which is fair since the first 3.5 miles takes you straight up to nearly 12,000 feet – the high point for the day. The following downhill is just as steep, so you don’t even consider running today. It’s a recovery hike.
The trail is very much like yesterday’s hike in terms of scenery. Mountain meadow flowers. Old growth aspen groves. Clear skies so you’re grateful for the shade under treeline. Without running, your pace is 2 minutes per mile slower overall than yesterday. With the added distance this makes for a 8.5 hour day. You exit the trail at a Young Life youth ranch and begin the long hot walk down the road to Chalk Creek.
Fortunately you pass by the Mt. Princeton General Store and take advantage to resupply your provisions. This carries you the remainder of the road to your trail head and new camp site. The last mile of road is about the cutest street ever, named Bunny Lane. Looking more like Disney World than Colorado, it’s lined with ideal cabins with flowers in every window – many available for daily and weekly rental. One cabin has woodpiles with a sign, “Organic Firewood.” As you consider what sort of premium such rarefied kindling sells for, you design a plan in your head to bring Karen up here for a weekend getaway.
After dipping your feet in the cold creek waters, you repeat yesterday’s recovery regimen and soak another hour in the Princeton Hot Springs. This is brilliant. They should put these hot springs near every trail head. Seriously, it’s a bit pricey, but the opportunity is too rare to pass up. And it definitely makes a difference. You woke up feeling pretty good this morning.
Refreshed, and clean, you head to the Asian Palate for dinner. Sushi isn’t your first choice in the backwoods of Colorado, but this place comes highly recommended from some local retirees you met on the trail. You’re a big fan of sushi and are incredibly surprised at how good this place is. And not just the food; this is a swanky hangout for a Saturday night. But don’t ask Tumbleweed. After 3 Saketinis, he probably doesn’t recall having been there. Based on Tumbleweed’s experience, you award this place a puerco pibil, and you didn’t even drink one. You both fall fast asleep after the hot springs and satisfying dinner. The next day will be your third hike in a row. Something you’ve never done before. You hope your body is up to the task. But instead of worrying over that, you drift off with thoughts of Bunny Lane in your head.