Trudging along. First beautiful, sunny day we've had in quite awhile. Almost too hot and sunny. We stopped at Princeton Hot Springs after 7 or 8 miles in the morning. My ankle had been bothering me some, and I was hoping the hot waters would help things somewhat. Dave was also eager for the chance to try out the waters.
Princeton Hot Springs lies near Buena Vista, and is the center of a small, overpriced resort facility at the foot of the enormous Mt. Princeton. The naturally heated waters reminded me of all the onsen hot springs I used to frequent in the Japanese countryside, although this one was decidedly American in style. なつかしいい!
After finishing about noon, we had one more small hill to climb (about 1500 feet) and then we made a long trek South in the direction of Monarch Pass. During the afternoon we managed to make tons of progress, 10 miles or so almost directly South West, making for a 16-17 mile day.
We camped early that evening, and while building a fire, Thatch showed up. This time though, April was nowhere to be seen. He was much more cognizant today, although he reported feeling only slightly better. He told us how April had left him in the dust that morning, and was probably already hitching a ride into Salida to pick up supplies. This surprised me a bit. Despite Thatch's recent lethargy, he had the more impressive thru-hiker's resume, so I figured April would struggle to keep up with him. According to Thatch though, April was just bounding with energy, and he was constantly struggling to stay with his blond counterpart.
Thatch left and came back to our camp only 3 minutes later to report sighting a "huge" black bear on the trail just up ahead. He reported that the bear probably weight 300-400 lbs and wasn't more than 150 yards away. Needless to say, we thought it prudent to cook at least that far AWAY from our tents and make sure we thoroughly cleaned our cookware.
CT Day 26: Reaching Monarch Pass
The Colorado Trail Story