We started again in the early afternoon from the Monarch Mountain Lodge. 10 miles into the hike though, I was hurting.... bad. While my one ankle had been bothering me for quite some time, it wasn't getting worse. So I figured I'd keep an eye on it and hope it either got better or somehow let me finish the trail. But somewhere during Segment 15 of the CT, I wrenched my OTHER ankle. Now I was leaning far more heavily on my (supposedly) weaker ankle!
Suffice it to say, I was a hurting unit, and my temperament probably reflected the pain my feet had me in. That most terrible of scenarios I dreaded since before passing through Twin Lakes almost 80 miles prior had now finally presented itself. Malfunctioning ankles were now forcing me off the trail. Almost as bad, the pain was preventing me from enjoying one of the better segments of the trail. We spent over half a mile wading through a field of wildflowers and I struggled to enjoy any of it.
I was noticeably slowing down as we crossed the Continental Divide and again reached the CT/CDT junction. It proved to be an eerie moonscape covered in fog. But despite our fantastic surroundings, both Dave and myself were growing more concerned about my injuries. Nearly every step I took proved painful and my hobbling and limping down the trail, as I leaned on my trekking poles certainly couldn't have been healthy for my stride. Like a snowball rolling downhill, things were quickly deteriorating for my feet.
So we camped a little early that day, in a lean-to shelter near the Green's Creek Trail about 10 miles in. It lies about three miles after gaining the Divide. Dave and I spent most of the night discussing the situation (mostly me yelling and complaining about all the work I'd put into this Trail and my frustration at my impending failure). I tried to rationalize continuing, but even I knew my case was pretty weak.
Dave and I agreed on loose plans then: for me to exit at Marshall Pass, where we would see the next dirt road (FS-200) and I could likely hitch a ride to Poncha Springs. I'd give Dave the stove and we could divide up the food in the morning. If I had a miraculous recovery the next day, I could try and move 1 trail segment further to the Sargent's Mesa Trailhead at FS-855. But I think both Dave and myself knew that wasn't going to happen.
CT Day 28: A Parting of Ways
The Colorado Trail Story