Day 2 began with Dan dropping me off at the South Platte River Trailhead. At that point, the trail is at an elevation of 6,100 feet. It quickly begins climbing out of the river valley, lush with Pine trees into a huge area still scarred from a fire that burned 18 years earlier. Along the way, the section rises to about 7,800 feet, significantly surpassing the highest point on the Appalachian Trail (6,600). The trail will stay above that mark for the rest of its length.
With the trees burned off, the experience was quite a bit different, but not bad. Wildflowers were abundant. As the miles passed the wildlife began to show itself as well. far from being desolate, the area contained numerous butterfly’s, chipmunks, rabbits and deer.
Stopping for a break, the only noise was the breeze on distant mountaintops, at least until some hummingbirds began working nearby flowers and added the propeller like sound of their wing beats. A deep blue sky completed the relaxing scene.
As I neared the end of the day’s 11 mile section, I once again met up with my brother. As we neared the car, thunderstorms began forming to the west and were heading our way. Luckily we finished in time to wait out the storm at a local brewpub. The last two days of mountain hiking followed by a couple beers and a comfortable bed has turned out to be a pretty good plan. However, all good things must end and tomorrow the real work of this trip begins.