On an afternoon in mid-September, we headed out on the Trail of the Cedars, a flat boardwalk and paved path through beautiful old cedars and hemlocks. Walking a foot or two off the ground on the boardwalk paths was fun, and offered a slightly different perspective than we typically experience walking through the forest. The trunks were huge and the canopy towered far above. The trees were so massive they had created their own ecosystem, much more moist and shaded than other areas in the park. Ferns fanned out over the forest floor.
Near the Avalanche Gorge Bridge, we turned off onto the smaller Avalanche Lake Trail. After a short climb up, we peered down into the narrow Avalanche Gorge. Fast-flowing water had sculpted the rock walls into all kinds of beautiful shapes.
As we continued the trees grew smaller and denser. Green moss carpeted everything.
For our first trip back into the wilderness, we drove up Poudre Canyon, then set up a base camp just off Pingree Park Road. Dispersed car camping is allowed in that area, which meant we could choose the spot that suited us best, no permit required.
After erecting the tent, we marveled at the starry night sky. Bright city skies make it easy to forget the enormous quantity of stars floating up there all the time. The sounds and smells of the forest enveloped us, simple but rich. The experience reminded us why visiting wild places is so important.
The next morning, sunlight peeked through the trees and gradually woke us up. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while watching squirrels play and chatter.
We drove a short ways to the Emmaline Lake trailhead and headed up the trail with small daypacks. We were in great spirits, happy to be back in the mountains.
Day 26: Near Beech Gap (Mile 91)-Big Butt (Mile 98.5); 7.5 miles
We started the day off with a full set of stretches. This is a new addition for us and we hope it will ward off any future injuries. We also walked more slowly and took more frequent breaks than usual to gradually transition Shutterbug’s knee back into thru hiking shape.
The morning was chilly, but not nearly as frigid as our first morning on the trail in March. As we walked, we saw lovely details in the forest.