9/4: 16.9 mi (1774.6 – 1791.5)
Up early, after another gloriously comfortable night’s sleep, we were fed fresh waffles, fruit and bacon, along with a near bottomless cup of coffee. Clifford dropped us off at the Copper Mtn Ski area, and we found ourselves winding our way up the runs, we had skied on several months prior.
It was a mellow day of easy ascent, with big blue skies that at times threatened rain, but never amounted to anything. Being rain averse we did take our rain jackets on and off…several times. Along the way, we talked with quite a few weekend day hikers and bikers who were curious about the CDT.
At the top of a pass, exiting the ski area, the trail opened up to rolling hills of wide open meadows, complete with herds of curious sheep.
Up an over another pass, we dropped down into the remains of Camp Hale (a WWII, 10th Mountain Infantry Division, mountain warfare training area, and German POW camp).
After exploration of the remaining concrete structure sporting 1ft thick walls, we set up camp.
9/5: 19.2 mi (1791.5 – 1810.7)
Holy Crap did it get cold! We awoke to the underside of our tent’s fly fully coated in ice crystals.
The hand grips of my trekking poles were coated as well. This is what you get when you camp in a valley next to a running creek, after a storm.
It took a minimum of 5 miles for us to warm up and find a bit if sun, in which to breakfast “comfortably”.
For the most part, the first 10 miles of the day were really cruzy. Upon reaching Tennessee Pass, we found a lone trekking pole, with a nearly devoured handle leaning against an interpretive sign. Its lower half conveniently fit my damaged pole. We decided that this was perfect “trail magic”, and Wa-La, a fully functioning pole now.
The 10th Mountain Division, during WWII, used this Tennessee Pass area for it’s Winter training. (Not sure if they still do). Near the Pass are also cool Continental Divide log cabins that you can rent, complete with awesome privies.
Once through the pass, and towards the 2nd half of our day, the trail devolved into typical CDT tread. Not sure what happened to the grooming that has so far been consistent along the “shared” portion of the CDT with the Colorado Trail (CT). The climbs and especially descents were rocky and tedious. We were completely wiped out by the end of the day. We had planned to be to our intended destination by 5:30, but it took till 7pm to get there.
Could it be because we lost track of the trail and had to bushwhack well over a mile through a maze of downfalls?
I hate to admit it, but this trail is starting to NOT be fun. I can’t keep this up without a break. To date, we have only taken 3 Zeros, everything else has been a Nero. My feet are planning a mutiny!
9/6: 15 mi (1810.7 – 1825.7)
Today was just a slog. The trail was not even difficult. My heart, brain and body had totally “checked out”. I was on survival autopilot until we came across Marvin.
Marvin (sorry I didn’t get a picture) was an eighty-seven year old man from Leadville. He was hiking with his dog. He moved at an incredibly slow pace, but emitted joy and serenity. He said that his “happy place” is in the mountains. He lamented the fact that he can’t backpack anymore, and expressed how fortunate we were to be doing what we’re doing. He even wished he had done more when he was younger, and more importantly, able. For now, he spends every summer day hiking in the mountains. He was a remarkable man, with remarkable stories. His smile is forever embedded in my brain. I think he was sent to squash my feet’s impending mutiny, and shut down my growing internal “pity party”. Well timed, and we’ll played Martin. You are magic!
With a newfound zeal, we hiked on. As the sun was starting to set, we found a wonderfully flat site, on a hill, just above our water source. This set us up perfectly for Twin Lakes, and our resupply.