Just beyond was La Junta, our scheduled destination for the night. We had no idea what to expect upon arrival. Would there be dry campsites? Other people? Thankfully, it was the good kind of surprise othis time. From thirty yards away we could see a roofed building with smoke billowing out, signaling the end of our soaking hike. A few kindred souls had started a fire, and all five of us immediately wrenched off our soaked gear and huddled around the warmth, infinitely grateful for a dry place to rest. Our relief was palpable. You could see it in our eyes, hear it in our voices, as we exchanged pleasantries with the crowd and hung layer of soaked clothing above the crackling flames to dry.
At this point we concluded that due to the morning’s poor weather - which had long since given way to luxurious sunshine - no one else had even entered the park that day. We were the only two souls, enraptured in a mythical wonderland. Just when I thought the views couldn’t get any better, we saw one more surprise: snow! We had gained enough elevation throughout the course of the day that we were now above the snow line. It was a harbinger of a cold night ahead, but added another level of serene beauty to our environment.