Oh golly where to start. I’ve really been lacking on the bloggy posts and for that I’m sorry. As a result, I may be missing some detail, but I’ll try my best.
Leadville was pretty cool. On the way out, Titan and I were hitching together and ended up getting a ride with another trail buddy, JuddLight. Our ride didn’t speak any English, and we actually ended up going down the wrong highway (oops). We hopped out, got a quick ride back into town from a mountain biker, then got another ride after a little while to Tennessee Pass. It was 6:30pm by the time we started hiking. I did 8 or 9 miles that night. RightOn and Cowboy were camped somewhere, and I couldn’t find them or Titan or JuddLight anywhere as it got dark. I kept walking the trail, now uphill, and found a spot just off the path to set up my tarp. I heard thunder in the distance and spent my first night alone in a while. I was so tired I didn’t even eat dinner.
I woke up at 4am to someone walking by… Interesting… Then at 7am or so, Cowboy came walking by. He was embarking on a big day, as he had friends from college to meet up with in Grand Lake. I didn’t realize I wouldn’t see him for a little while.
That next day I walked alone up over a pass or two and walked by many southbound Colorado Trail hikers. I was getting tired of having to talk to them or answer questions about water (it’s everywhere, jeezypeezy) or listening to them warn me about snow (oh no!), but a lot of them were cool so it’s all good.
I ended up walking by Copper Mountain ski resort where there were hundreds of people listening to a free concert by Three Dog Night (“Jeremiah was a bullfrog!”). I was quite overwhelmed, but still managed to grab a coffee where I chilled out and waited for the boys. After a bit we grabbed tall boys for the trail and headed out towards breck. We got held up by the rain so we pitched my tarp and played some magic cards. We didn’t do many miles after that… Story of Colorado…
The next day we walked into Breckenridge where we ended up crashing at JuddLight’s friend’s for 4th of July to watch the fireworks. Pretty amazing fireworks.
Leaving Breck, I almost got run over by a ton of mountain bikers on trail. Technically I have the right away so it sorta ground my gears… The next stretch was gonna be tough. We were taking the Grays-Torrey’s route which ended up being a ridiculous amount of up and down along ridges leading up to two 14ers, Grays being the highest point on the actual divide! Despite the difficulty and the howling wind (it was rough I thought my left ear was damaged and my sleeping bag almost blew off a cliff one morning), those next few days of hiking were probably some of the most scenic and rewarding of my life alongside the Sanny Juans. We also saw a bunch of mountain goats. Neat!
After Grays and Torrey’s, we headed into Georgetown to stay with a friend of RightOn’s from the PCT. It was a great stop, and we watched some DVDs, but I had actually only planned on going from Twin Lakes to Breckenridge to Grand Lake. I was torn, these town stops were fun, experiencing Colorado, but I was falling behind schedule.
From Georgetown, we crossed i70 and climbed back into the mountains. We had a great campsite that night and watched an unbelievable sunset over jagged mountains. The sun went down and dusk came out in full brilliance. That orange glow to light blue and pink cloud wisps deepening to darker blue and purple, topped off by a crescent moon is possibly my favorite image on this trail so far, full moonrises make a good run too.
The next day was our last day of intense peak climbing in Colorado. JuddLight caught a Pokemon on top of a 13er, and we also did some fun, exposed scrambling along a cliffy ridge leading up to James Peak.
The day after that we cranked miles extremely quickly and made it to Arapahoe Valley Ranch where a trail angel, TickledPink, was waiting with some beers and brats. We also played some horseshoes, what fun. Cowboy was waiting for us there too! Great to see him again. He’s the longest trail friend I’ve had, meeting him just before Lordsburg.
The next day we slack packed (Pink took all the stuff in our packs) and ran to Grand Lake for 14 miles. After that, we rented bear cans and headed into Rocky Mountain National Park to meet Uberdude at a campsite he reserved. Haven’t seen him since Pagosa Springs! It was great to camp with him again.
The next day I hiked the rest of the RMNP loop and hitched back into town with a ranger. I resupplied for Steamboat and we headed out in the late afternoon. The next morning I took off on my own and ended up alone until Steamboat! I did a great 25 mile solo day and climbed over Parkview Mountain (my last time over 12k’?). The day after that I actually did a 38ish mile day towards town and camped alongside a highway. I thought I would be super uncomfortable and scared about getting in trouble or something, but I was so tired I fell asleep immediately.
The next morning I walked the remaining 4 miles and hitched into town to stay at Pink’s place (thanks Pink!!) with a bunch of other hikers. Great stuff. I watched the Secret Life of Pets and also tubed down the Yampa River. I even helped some locals water their plants.
There’s only 60 miles left of CO! I’ve loved the trail through Colorado, but it’s time to get out of here and keep moving. I’m hoping to do big miles through Wyoming, especially the Great Divide Basin. Apparently there’s a 40 mile water carry somewhere in there.
This is kind of random but I’ve made some serious gear changes involving getting my guitar back in Grand Lake and also ditching my puffy jacket and beanie and stove to compensate for weight.
For now my mind is focused on the future: desert then the winds then Yellowstone. After that I have no clue what to expect through Montana until the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier. Back to business! When in doubt, hike it out.