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The Infamous Sargents Mesa
Waking up with the knowledge that one of the most infamous sections of trail were about to be our reality for the better portion of a day was not exactly a joyous prospect, and after the rather crap day of riding Andy and I had the day before, morning came all too quickly for us, and once awake, our present fears from small aches and pains were less than the horrible imaginings of what lay ahead of us that day.
Once we left the oasis of Cameron Park, Sargents Mesa did indeed rear its ugly head, and it lived up to its aforementioned reputation. It’s always hard to tell whether being prepared for what lies ahead makes the challenges easier or harder to cope with, but in this situation, I think it made Andy and my life easier, at least from a planning perspective. We knew Sargents Mesa would be hard; we planned on it taking most of the morning, which it did; we were pleasantly surprised when we finished it shortly after our lunch stop. And all of this was made possible by the communal whisperings of horribleness posited by bikepacking community about Sargents Mesa.
In total, we covered about 13 miles by our 1pm lunch time, which is BAD, but we were almost out of the interminable biking purgatory by this point, and spirits were higher than the day before for both of us.
After finishing Sargents Mesa, we were rewarded with some beautiful backcountry dirt roads and doubletrack, and met three female teachers hiking the CT that were around our age. We took the opportunity to chat with them about their experiences so far and, while they had highs and lows similar to us, they were VERY jealous of our lightweight bike setups – each of their packs looked to weigh about 50 pounds, which was as much as our bikes weighed in total.
We also met our first trail angel in this section named Apple (trail name), of whom both of us had heard about from the bikepacking community. Trail angels are people who set up camp along a well-used thru-hiking trail and give passing hikers snacks and drinks, as well as some oft-needed human interaction. Andy and I both snagged cokes, gatorade, and water from Apple, and chatted with him for a while, before completing segment 18 and starting the La Garita Wilderness detour.
Although we had been riding in a drizzle for the past hour, Andy and my spirits were as high as they had been throughout the trip: we made it through Sargents Mesa, we met some cool people and got a mental pick-me-up through a trail angel, and had met our goal of riding some distance into the La Garita detour. After riding 10 miles and shooting some drone footage, we decided to call it a night, and camped out on top of a small mesa overlooking a cow pasture and farm.
In total, we rode 50 miles and climbed around 4,500 feet in elevation.