July 13, 2020
Destination: Tank Seven Creek Today's Miles: 22.20
Start Location: Monarch Pass Trip Miles: 273.40
We arrived at the top of Monarch Pass about 8 o’clock - along with a lot of other people setting out for the day, mountain bikers mainly.
If it were up to us we would have gotten an earlier start. It’s going to be a long day and the last half without water sources.
Maneuvering through the mountain bikers (who were apparently still warming up) they then maneuvered their way through us for the majority of the day. The trail is called Monarch Crest and a milder continuation of our most recent day on the trail - without that terrible wind, thank goodness.
The tread was good but for some reason it was hard to ‘get in the groove’. I don’t know if it was from being our first day back on trail or from the steady stream of bikers bursting past only to slow, dismount at the next hill effectively disrupting the smooth cadence of our walking. The rolling terrain, the congested trail and emotional flux felt like we were riding a wave all morning.
At about the 5 mile mark the East and West Collegiate routes merged. We were expecting to see more hikers but saw only one all day and a strange fellow at that. Right off the bat he said he was having a ‘tough day mentally’ so Aaron asked him what was going on. He said he misses his little dog and he’s having a hard time remembering why he was on the trail in the first place.
We chatted for a few minutes acknowledging that it is hard on the trail but also tried to encourage him by mentioning the significance of the task and the inescapable beauty around every bend. It seemed to cheer him up a little and soon he passed us and was heading down the trail. Sorry to say but that was one weird dude.
We rode the proverbial ‘wave’ down to Marshall Pass covering the 11’ish miles in 5 hours. Not bad, considering. It was 1 o’clock and the heat of the day was upon us. So was a rain shower. We quickly put on our pack covers and ducked under our umbrellas before pressing on. We were at the half-way point in our day, passing the last water source for the next 11 miles. Joy.
For the most part the trail followed old logging roads, first we went up, then we went down. The day was quiet and uneventful, what I remember most is how rocky it was and how much my feet hurt at the end of the day. I also have burned into my mind the terrific views off to our right overlooking the drainage along Marshall Pass Road. Absolutely Beautiful.
When we rolled into Tank Seven Creek it was right on time, thunder was rumbling and soon rain would be falling. We grabbed the first flat spot we saw and quickly set up the Triplex. Excellent timing, we finished just as it was starting to rain so we grabbed our packs and climbed in for a half hour or so until it quit.
We comfortably cooked and ate our Ramen dinner despite the earlier shower. A deer was browsing her way towards camp and we curiously watched one another eat. It has been a tiring 22 mile day and we are anxious to get some rest.
This is just the first of several dry sections to come.