Trip Report CDT: Colorado pt2

Collegiate Peaks

I'm glad that when I wake up my legs feel fine after hiking so hard yesterday. The push continues as I plan on doing the Mount Elbert alternate today I pass a large group of CT around lunch time: Rainbow, Upgrade, Rerun and Irish. After some chatting it turns out Rerun and Irish are trail angels that had helped Crush get a hitch into Pinedale! Hiking on I catch up to a young kid who can match my pace. He had gotten separated from his parents after he went off trail and is hoping they are waiting for him at the trailhead, which it turns out they are.

Roughly 25mi(40km) and +6000ft(1829m) of climbing has brought me to the Mount Elbert junction. The climb up to 14440ft(4401m) begins. Before it begins in earnest I run into Sorority Steve, Traps and Bushwhack. They had finished their CDT hike the day before and made the day trip out to hike Elbert before going home. As I climb up Elbert all the day-hikers are coming down. After two false peaks I reach the top and am the only one there in the late afternoon. After a short snack break I descend all the way back down the valley to camp just before Twin Lakes. I run into two campers and one of them, Benjamin, preaches about being healed of celiac disease by God.

I take the west cutoff of Twin Lakes as I have no reason to go into town. It involves a quick river crossing before reconnecting to the CDT. From the valley floor back up to the clouds, there are two intense climbs today. First is Hope Pass and then Lake Ann Pass as I enter the Collegiate Peaks. I'm engrossed with the Coloradan landscape as I zone into the rhythm of walking and passing by handfuls of other hikers.

I chat with a pair of hikers who mention there is a CDT hiker just ahead of me and I end up catching her, Golden. Shortly after I catch up to more CDT hikers, Snow who I briefly met after Argentine Spine and his friend. They are both just finishing up their hike at Salida. I get held up by a day hiker, Zappa, as he ties me up in a constantly whir of his ramblings. I end my day earlier to stay at low elevation and camp with Snow.

More than halfway through Colorado and some 300mi(483km) left of my CDT hike, the adventure is about to wrap up!

The day is full of tiny passes and peaks with elevation bouncing continually between 11000ft(3353m) and 13000ft(3963m). I run across CT yo-yo'ers Rewind and Dump Truck. I manage to crank out 35mi(56km) and five large climbs. In the evening I pass more CT hikers before camping beside a water reservoir: DJ, Creeper and Cottage.

Texas Pass in the distance

I climb up to Monarch Pass in the morning, walking by ski lifts and down slopes. I get a hitch into town with a Texan on his way home. As usual I make my way to McDonalds first then to Walmart for resupply. As I finish packing up my food it begins to rain and I walk over to Hayduke's Hideout. Similar to the Toaster House in New Mexico, this place is a location for hikers and bikers to stay overnight with access to basic amenities like shower, laundry and a full kitchen. It only costs 25USD a night and there is space for me to sleep inside on a couch.

The hostel is run by two Triple Crowners, At Home and Spice, who are super welcoming and friendly. There is only one other hiker staying the night besides myself, Way Finder. They are nursing an ankle injury and are going home. I spend the afternoon sewing a dozen different holes that I've accumulated in my hiking shirt and shorts. For dinner I order Domino's and pass out on the couch.

I organize a shuttle back to trail with a trail angel, Debbie. At Monarch Pass I meet a CT hiking couple and chat with them for a moment: Giggles and Greg. The trail from the pass is extremely windy and exposed. I have to step off trail every 15 minutes or so as cyclists whiz by. Otherwise the track itself is easy going and uneventful.

Mountain range in distance

Around midday I turn a corner on trail and end up spooking a black bear hanging out in the woods which quickly dashes off out of sight. I meet two elk hunter from Texas and then catch two CDT hikers from Poland: Patchwork and Bug Finder. The rest of the evening I play trail tag with two bikepackers that are struggling and pushing their bikes up every climb: Squirrel and Gary.

The trail flattens and water sources become scarce as I make miles in the hot sun. Following dirt roads I speed on by several CT hikers: Sprawl, Tree Beard, Tara, Terry, Chris, Steve, Thumbs, Big Forest Gay and Gumby. I come across five or six more hikers in the evening at a camp spot but push into the night to camp alone.

Low valleys of Colorado

I wake early to do roughly five big climbs to get into Lake City. I meet some elk hunters in the morning and cross paths with Kirk, the cyclist who is doing the CDT I met in New Mexico. At the highway the first truck passing by grabs me and brings me to town. I make my way to the famous town bakery and stuff my self with treats. I resupply at the nearby grocer and meet a CT hiker, Drafty. I stop at the hiker hut in town and chat with a pastor who volunteers there. The hut is a entire building just for hikers to hang out during the day!

This town is swarming with CT hikers as it's typically their last or penultimate stop on a SOBO CT hike: J.I. Joe, Trashman, Rooster, Splat, Moe, Rip, Ponderosa, Oats, Pickles, Bear Proof. A few of us go out for dinner and while my order is being placed I run to the grocer store on the other side of town again to grab night snacks. I chat up someone in line to checkout thinking they are a hiker but it turns out just to be a local. I apologize and manage to convince him to give me a hitch back to the restaurant, arriving in time for my meal. For the evening I share laundry and a bunk room with J.I. Joe at the RV park.

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