Day 12. Collegiate East.


21.9 miles 

Twin lakes dam to Frenchman creek

We woke up from the cabin, ate oatmeal for breakfast and then the lady at the cabin drove us to the trail. The morning was warm and breezy. It’s fun hiking with new people and the ladies are a high energy, fun loving group. We hike until we reach the CDT/ CT branch point in the trail for the collegiate west and east routes. I decided to do the east route because my knee is still tender and if I need to get off trail there are many outs. Also if I do the CDT next year I’ll do the collegiate west route anyway. Mush decides to take the west route, while Rapunzle, Leah, Blistfull and I take the east route. We say bye and I think they’re going to meet back up in Salida. 

Sara (Blistfull), Rapunzle and Mush

Ohhh! A yummy bolete!

Never mind…..

Cool longhorn beetle

Rapunzle on the dry side of the mountain

Sego lily! 

The hike in the morning is in a pretty dry, sagebrushy area with cacti and yucca showing their faces on the decent towards clear creek. The air is hot and the sky is blue. We make it to clear creek which is a beautiful, crystal clear and fairly large creek and take a lunch break. 

Monument Plant

Bristlecone Pine

Then it’s a steep 4.5 mile climb up to the top of a ridge. My knee is hurting but not in the same place as before and not as painful as before. We take another break up top and look at the nice views. Then it’s back down 1000 feet and back up 1000 feet to the top of a second ridge where there are some bristlecone pines growing in the breezy open areas. Bristlecone pines as you may know are the oldest living non-clonal organisms on earth. Some trees in California are more than 6000 years old. There were still mammoths alive and walking around back then. 

I meet a hiker named Chelsea who looks like the classic hippy. She’s got dreads, piercings, and a chill happy go lucky attitude and rocking and old school military style external frame pack. She’s waking the trail after coming from the PCT where the snow in Washington was too deep to do anything. Since she had no maps she decided to hike northbound that way she runs into lots of hikers so she can ask where to find water, trailheads, etc. Whatever works! 

Great wildflowers were abundant much of the evening. Here are a couple of the lookers.

Whipple’s Penstemon

Silky Phacelia

We make it to the creek we wanted to camp by only to find no place to camp so we continued on another 2 miles to Frenchman creek where there is plenty of rushing water and campsites where 4 other hikers are already set up. We eat dinner together, chat and I help Rapunzle patch a hole in her sleeping pad. It worked! We snuggle in our shelters away from the abundant mosquitos and hit the hay.

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