Day 2 felt good. We’d approached the first day carefully, wanting to ensure we did not overdo it, and succeeded. Wanted to remain cautious for day 2. An early start provides greater flexibility later in the day. The plan had been a conservative 12-mile day, and we saw viable 15-mile and 18-mile camping options. So we hiked with an open mind, and ended up doing 18 which was fine. We preferred getting to camp earlier, but it’s all about choices! Below is what we wrote that night:
Woke up to alarms at 5 am. 45 degrees (F) inside the tent so probably upper 30’s outside. Both had had a restless night. P was cold at times. Fixed breakfast but it took a while to filter water. On the trail at 6:50. Both felt good. Met a guy we think was from Minnesota hiking up to Monarch. He was uncertain about Collegiate West as it seemed too much up and down even though he had previously done the AT and the PCT. Hiked out to the trailhead then along the road via a toilet. Crossed US50 and then climbed switchbacks for an amazing view up the Fooses valley back to Monarch Crest. After making the crest hiking through pleasant forest we chatted with Natalia and Cordelia who are also hiking the Collegiate Loop having started in Twin Lakes. Their only resupply was Princeton. Hope to see them on the west side (we did not see them again 😦 ). Met a girl from Romania who lived near Eagle who was doing some of the Collegiate Loop. And met a couple with two dogs wearing dog shoes and looking very tired. Hiked over and down to the Angel of Shavano campsite and chilled on a picnic table. The well wasn’t working so filtered water from the river and a kind RV lady gave us two key lime pie flavored bars (our first trail magic!). After the rest marched back up and out of the valley and it seems a long plod to the Mount Shavano trailhead where we laid down for thirty minutes. P slept. A bit more traffic going up this 14er, including a group of 8 girls mostly youth that we overtook later on the CT. Our original plan was to finish the day about here but we had several options to go further. We marched on watching the miles pass. Filtered water in Sand Creek with a rest where there was a great campsite. Finally made it to Browns Creek at about 6:30 for an even better campsite. P managed to give his lower legs the ice cold water bath. Filtered water through gravity system P set up with the Sawyer squeeze. Managed to get into bed shortly after sunset at about 9 pm. Ready for a 6 mile hike to the road then a 2 mile hike to Princeton for breakfast in the morning. One highlight of the day was actually seeing a woodpecker peck!
GPS Hiking stats:
18 miles, 8 hours 30 min
Ascent 4583 ft., Descent 4931 ft.,
Campsite altitude 9590 ft.