I awoke to Caden’s voice right over my head. It was 4:05am….even the roosters were still asleep. “My stomach is killing me!” he said. Every once in awhile Caden gets a really bad stomachache. Steph and I both got up to try to help him out but not sure our efforts would be fruitful or not. Regardless, he made it clear he still wanted to go backpacking as he figured it’d go away after several hours like it usually does. I woke Dacen up at 4:30 and then Joe showed up right on schedule at 4:45. We loaded backpacks in the car, said goodbye to Steph and we were off. Caden’s stomach issues subsided soon after we left and before long both boys had fallen asleep in the back of the car for the 2.5 hour drive.
As we rolled through Leadville Joe asked if I knew how to get to the Mt Massive trailhead. “Ummmm….no…I’ve been there before but it was long ago”. This began a pattern of me showing poor navigation skills. We pulled into a convenience store to unload our bladders and get directions from the clerk and we were back on our way.
At 7:45 we pull into the parking lot at the Mt Massive trailhead and soon after our shuttle arrived. We loaded our bags and selves into Jason’s Subaru and he took us on the scenic short cut route to the top of Tennessee Pass all the while sharing bits of info about life in Leadville. Jason collected his payment, reminded us of all the bail out points and then bid us farewell as we started down the trail at 8:32 following the CT markers.
It was a beautiful day for hiking and we were mostly shaded by the canopy of trees we were passing through. We made sure to take it slow and stop periodically to check that packs were riding ok and feet were feeling happy. We saw one other hiker, a thru hiker, while we were on the trail and after he passed us I suggested that we all consider what our trail names should be. You see, there is a tradition among thru hikers (and probably section hikers too) that you adopt a trail name on your hike. So we kept ourselves busy suggesting names for each other as we walked along.
Camp 1 was only about 3.5 miles from the trailhead with relatively mild elevation gain so we made pretty quick work of our hiking for the day. As we approached the area of camp 1 we each started pointing out areas that might be good to put up our tents until we saw the most perfect spot. It was right along the river in a wide open area with a few trees for shade and even a fire ring left over from other campers and it was calling our names. With thunder clouds rolling in above us we quickly set up the tents so we could take shelter if need be. It wasn’t until we slowed down to eat lunch that we realized some others had also found this to be the perfect place to set up camp. MOSQUITOES!! They were thick and vicious! We covered ourselves in 100% Deet which the mosquitoes gobbled up like hot fudge topping on their humanoid desserts. Joe had long pants to protect his legs but anyone who knows me knows I don’t have but 1 or 2 pairs of long pants and I didn’t bring any with me and neither did the boys (like father like sons). So we slapped our legs like crazy, rhythmless schuhplattlers.
We explored the surrounding area a little on foot but the high mosquito pressure and periodic rain showers forced us to take refuge in a tent where we played numerous games of Crates, Hearts, Liar’s Dice and Love Letter. We did take a couple excursions out of the tent to stretch our legs and search for a tree to hang our bear bag from but we came up empty. Oh yeah, the BV only held about 1/2 of our food…so the other half we figured we’d hang. But in the end we just put the food bag in a heavy duty trash compactor bag and stored it away from the tents.
For dinner we feasted on the Sausage Mac ‘n Cheese while the mosquitoes feasted on our blood then we followed up with a Snickers and some hot drinks for dessert. Our bellies were full and our ration bags were empty. Joe had hit a home run for day 1…everyone was happy!! We enjoyed the evening as much as we could until we could no longer take the mosquitoes and we headed into the tent for a few more games including Infinite Questions once it got too dark to see. Infinite Questions is like 20 Questions….but with many more questions. Actually, there are a couple other differences. For one, it has to be a person (no places or things allowed). Also, while you can ask as many yes/no questions as you like the game ends when you finally ask “Is it so-and-so?” and find out if you were right or not. The boys LOVED this game that Uncle Joe suggested and despite their begging for “just one more game” we finally called it a day and went to bed.
Day 1 was a great success! Have a look at a few of our pictures of the day here.
Too early in the morning
Start of section 9
Sending text home
Wach in the woods
Why oh Y tree
Take a load off
Me and my little dudes
Enjoying the creek