CDT Day 75 CT Day 16

24 miles hiked, Camping @ 9675ft
It’s fear of mosquitos that finally ejects me from my cosy sleeping quilt cocoon. I want to be packed up and hiking my the time the miniature flying vampires awake, and despite ignoring my alarm for as long as possible I manage a fairly mosquito-free exit.
We have a nice couple of leg burner climbs to start the day, still winding through forest. This section of the trail is my least favourite – no views, stuck in forest all day long, narrow rocky trail, and all the bloody mozzies. I want my mountains and views back dammit.
Once at the top of our second and last real climb of the day, we yard sale everything into every little splash of sunshine we can find. I make and drink coffee, making entirely too satisfied noises as I slurp it down, then we descend 3 speedy speedy miles. Hooray for caffeine!! Zoom zoom!!
The end of this segment is marked by a highway that we cross over, and see a hiker, Scott, that passed by our yard sale this morning. He’s being picked up and has a car full of resupply so he generously offers us a gatorade and fills our water bottles! Trail magic! This is very exciting as the last water yesterday had some little floating wormies in it; I very much prefer my water worm-free.
A long slow climb follows a creek bed, then switchbacks along the side of a mountain. It’s a nice climb, despite the heat and humidity, and I’m enjoying it until I feel a little shakey and have to sit for a minute to down a larabar. The sugar hits my bloodstream and I’m back in business.
As I climb the crazy fast clouds are congregating above and starting to look a little mean. We shovel in some rehydrated beans at the top while staring at the sky, and the rumbles are getting louder and louder. Must hike! Must get in miles before the rain starts again!
Zoom zoom zoom down the otherside, then the afternoon elevation looks a lot like Oregon – flat. Today is our day for miles!
The clouds are now a deep purple above us and it starts to sprinkle. We find a completely inadequate tree to sit under and just as I park my but FLASH BOOM CLAP KABAM CRASH!!!!! Lightning strikes right in front of us and the thunder is so loud my ears are ringing for ages afterwards. We sit on our packs and hide under the tyvek while the storm dumps directly onto us. A nice serving of hail stones, followed by a side of pouring rain. We hide out for about a half hour before we brave the sprinkling rain and head out again.
Down the trail, through the trees, cross a creek, then we turn a corner and arrive at a largr meadow, just as another cloud of lovely dark blue hue is coming straight at us. We beeline for another, more adequate, tree and hide out again while the storm passes. It’s not nearly as bad this time so we timidly head out across the meadow.
The sky is dark all around us. We can’t tell which way it is coming from or moving, and it doesn’t really matter because we are surrounded.  So…We hike on.
The clouds are rumbling more as we collect water and decide to make camp at the first decent place we find, determined to set the tent up dry and not in the rain.
We managed 24 miles and got the tent up before the rain…but then lay in the tent cursing because there wasn’t that much more rain, and we could have smashed in another 4 miles. Bugger!!!
Tomorrow we have to put in a solid day to ensure we get into Lake City the following day. It’s not that many miles, but the last day hiking into Lake City is very high and exposed so we can’t be up there when the afternoon storms hit.
Early night, early wake! Goodnight!

CDT Day 74 CT Day 15

23.7 miles hiked, camping at 10935ft
It’s a 530am wake up call today. Thankfully the rain that has been pitter pattering all night has stopped so we can pack up and stay dry. The tent is soaking though so we’ll have to ‘yard sale’ everything at the first patch of light we see.
I hike out on the piney path. This section is lots of rolling hills with a couple of significant climbs. This morning there’s a small up before it winds down around the mountain. Grizzly catches up just before I stop to fill up my water containers from a small stream that crosses the path. Phew. The notes on this water source weren’t too definite so I wasn’t sure if I’d be waterless this morning.
More weaving up and down, always through the forest. There’s still lots of clouds in the sky that are starting to fade away as the sun starts warming things up. I look through the forest and it seems that my eyes are fuzzy or there is mist through the trees. I realise it’s the sun hitting the trees and steam rising off all around them as they heat.
We come to the top of a small climb and we yard sale all our wet things (spread out all over the ground) over the rocky ground as we have discovered a beautiful patch of sun. Yay no wet tent tonight!  I make coffee while we wait for the things to dry, Grizzly has phone service so he checks in with the world.
Once we’ve flipped everything and are satisfied there’s no dampness hiding, we stuff the bits and pieces away into their places and hike on.
More forest, more up and down and up and down. I turn to my audiobook for distraction – Thoreau is keeping me company today. Our last water stop before the end of the day arrives and we sit and filter and drink. Two hikers arrive at the stream  – other hikers! We were just wondering where all the hikers are! They are the occupants of the tents we saw at Marshall Pass earlier yesterday; they are either super speedy or got up super early. Actually we did have quite a lengthy break to dry our things so maybe that’s an explanation too.
As we sit and drink, clouds are forming overhead. The speed at which storms and clouds appear here in the rocky mountains is absolutely mind boggling. We sat and it was sunny, we leave and we are trying to out run the clouds. It’s a long slow climb up with the sky getting noisier and noisier. We cross a big wide meadow and hike faaaast. No lightning strikes today please. The sky is the colour of a dark plum in front of us, so we stop to put on all our rain gear and my pack cover. Just as we are about to set forth, a massive thunder clap overhead scares the bejesus out of me, so we decide to hide under a tree for a while instead of walking directly into the storm. I pull the tyvek groundsheet out and we pull it over us like a blanket, just as hail starts attacking.
We huddle for a good half hour or so, only emerging once the hail stopped and the rain has settled down. Into the rain we go!
Up and down and up and down, getting wetter, colder, grumpier as the day goes on. We are both exhausted. For no particular reason I can fathom, except the cold might be draining our energy more than we realise. The trail is hard to walk on too- very rocky and slippery. It’s not well maintained in this section so that it is too narrow and our feet are constantly at angles and we are rolling ankles all day.
I decide that my new ultralight rain suit makes me look like I could audition for the next Ghostbusters. Or maybe find a hat and become a smurf. Or cleaning up after a toxic spill.  Ultra high fashion out here in thru hiker land.
We turn a corner and the field in front of us is filled with Elk! I try to get closer to see them but my silly ghostbusters pants are too noisy and scares them off. Boo!
Finally for the last mile the rain miraculously stops! We grab water and find a campsite already occupied by a bazillion mosquitoes but we make room for our little tent home.
We eat our dinners and dive in expertly without any mozzie invaders. Early night for early rising again tomorrow. We are shattered and will sleep well. Zzzzzzzz.

CDT Day 73 CT Day 14

This morning we need to resupply then head out, so walk to the post office so I can collect my box. I’d called the PO in Derby Montana to forward my box from there (as we changed plans and came to Colorado) but evidently the rotten people returned it to sender instead of forwarding it! Bah! So no beautifully prepared box for me. Instead we walk to safeway and confuse ourselves with how many bars and packets and containers of things we need. We each look at our baskets – “does this look like enough?”. I can’t tell you the number of times those words are uttered by hikers to each other. “Does my food bag feel like 4 days?” ” How many serves of X should I take for 5 days?” No one ever knows. I never get it right.
I make a sign on the tyvek and it’s not too long before we nab a hitch back to Monarch Pass.
We see Marty just arrived at the pass and trying to get a hitch to town – the awesome ladies who picked us up offer him a ride to just outside of town. We say goodbye, head into the little store to buy a postcard (me) and some chips (Grizzly) before heading out under the gondolas and onto the trail.
We are hiking along a ridge today, with views out across the valley and to distant mountains. The sky is clouding over as we are expecting – the forecast for the next 10 days is afternoon rain and or thunderstorms every single day. Welcome to monsoon season in Colorado.
The rain starts up and we high tail it to a little shelter that is on our maps. It’s just a little 3 sided lean-to which is perfect for hiding out. I spread the tyvek on the dirt ground and we explode our food bags to eat some of the weight away.  I enjoy reading the names of CT and CDT hikers extending back into the 80s written all over the walls. There are 4 ladies here who are hiking the CT together. I’m so excited that these friends, in their mid-late 60s, are all doing this together. Badasses. And excited about the part where they have their tents set up at 230pm…so nice and chilled. Although I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if that happened everyday.
Out into the drizzle we hike. We are now within the forest and the lovely views are gone. We arrive at Marshall Pass, which may have been a good camping site with awesome flat ground and a (gasp!) pit toilet, but it is too early. Boo!
We hike another 2 miles before the rain gets the better of us and we set up in a non-bougie campsite. Yuck it is quite the struggle to set up a tent and get inside without bringing a litre of water in with us.
Finally our day is done, have some hot ramen in our bellies and we fall asleep dreaming of blue skies in the morning.

CDT Day 72 CT Day 13 Salida

Thank goodness we didn’t get eaten but a hoard of angry marmots or pikas last night. Our little perch on the old railway (there’s no tracks, just the cleared path) ended up being  great spot, but with a steep hill on one side covered in lots of rocks you should always keep the marmot spray at the ready 😉
We walk along the track for a while, reading the signs about the history of the track as we go. As we descend to hancock trailhead we see a giant sign “Colorado Trail 2016”. Oooo magic maybe?
We follow the road and there are a whole bunch of giant tents and cars, and one huge tent set up with a bbq and a stack of tools. It’s a work party for the Colorado Trail volunteers – they are breaking new trail here so that the CT doesn’t follow the jeep road. What an awesome community!
We hike up the rocky road and I fantasize about Willy Wonka doing trail maintenance “That’s not rocky road, THIS is rocky road!”.
We arrive up at a lake surrounded by very moose-y looking willow. Still no moose sightings though. Boooo!
Up over a mini pass and down through some big boulders, this new land we’re dropping into is gorgeous. Down through thick green growth past a beautiful stream, and straight into mosquitoville. We bump into a couple with a dog that we stand and chat to for a while; meanwhile all the inhabitants of mosquitoville are attached to my legs. I try to politely leave the conversation many many times and finally we hike away from the shady spot and start whacking my legs and looking at the thousands of tiny welts all over me. I spray some of the tiny bottle of poison (DEET) on me but way too late.
Down the road we go, pass some very cool cabins, when around the corner comes something strange. “Llamas!” exclaims Grizzly. “Llamas!!!” I say. These llamas are owned by a couple who take elderly, and disabled people out camping. The llamas have little saddlebags they carry, and I get to pat them on their necks.
Finally at monarch pass we get a hitch into Salida and find ourselves a room. We’re so hungry but need to do laundry, so we order pizza to be delivered to the room while we hide out in our raingear, watching Juno on tv.
Once clean we lazily get a taxi the 2 miles to downtown to get to the gear store before it closes. Grizzly needs new socks as his injinis all have holes in them – awesome socks and perfect for desert hiking but they wear out waaay too fast.
Next door there is a bar with an airstream in the beer garden that has been converted into a bar. I drink a cider and enjoy the live acoustic music in the humid air. Down the road people are floating in the river on tubes or standing and sitting on the banks chatting. Hot and lazy. It’s amazing.
I love this town. I love this airstream bar.
At the safeway we buy a bunch more food to eat tonight. We’re still not getting enough food in this section. I can see Grizzly getting thinner, and he has started calling me Stegosaurus because my spine is too spiney through my shirt. Must eat everything!
Back in the room we each consume a “serves 4” Amy’s brand red curry and a pint of (almond milk) icecream. That’s a fair effort on the calorie front! Finally it’s sleepy time and we doze off watching more random things on tv and staring at the random bits of news on our tiny screens.
Goodnight my new favourite Colorado town!

CDT Day 71 CT Day 12

21.3 miles hiked, Camping at collegiate west loop 56.5 @ 11929ft
The important things that must be done this morning before we get on trail- get coffee and find wifi somewhere so I can download a new book. I’m going through books so quickly and they are horribily expensive so I’ll have to figure out some new motivation for all the hill climbing.
I find both wifi and coffee at a great little roastery, the kind that sells beard oil at the register next to the gluten free muffins. Because beard oil and coffee are like peas and carrots.
Books and podcasts loaded, I collect my pack and Grizzly from the room. Yogi has decided to jump onto the eastern loop with Frankitoe (our other roommate ) as there are hot springs coming up on that side. Smart man.
It doesn’t take long to get a hitch, this time it’s 3 brothers heading out for a little camping. They jump out and check out the views from the pass, and one rolls us a joint to take with us. The trail provides!
I’m impressed with how early it is for a town start  – we are hiking by 9am. It definitely is a very exposed section. The wind is crazy –  I clip my hat to my pack so it doesn’t blow off, I pull my buff over my head and earphones so they don’t fly away, and I fiddle incessantly with the excess lengths on my pack straps that keep whipping my face.
No trees to rest under today, just perching on the edge of the skinny trail in the rocks. Up down up down up down. It’s hard going but we are fuelled by thousands of town calories and a good sleep and are making good time. I like this kind of hiking better than 1 giant climb for the day followed by 1 giant down. At the top of one ridge we are faced with a steep snow chute on the other side. A few feeble slippery steps then I say stuff it, sit on my bum and slide the rest of the way down. Wheeeee!!! Wet bum and giant wedgie totally worth it.
There are valleys and rocks and marmots and pikas and rocks and marmots and climbs and valleys. We hike through a section of rocks that glimmer like silver. So cool! I wonder if everyone that hikes here thinks the rocks just look like silver and ignores them, when in fact it is real silver and we are all just a bit dumb.
We reach our tentative mileage for the day, but as we are still very high, hiking on steep slopes and around so many rocks, there is nowhere flat to camp. Crap. I don’t wanna hike mooooore! I have a 3 second inner tantrum, eat some sour patch kids, turn up my tunes, and do the only thing that can be done – hike.
We end up hiking another 2 or so miles. Any miles that by necessity have to be hiked beyond your chosen mileage should definitely count as triple miles. So…we hiked another ‘6’ 😉
We settle on a little spot just big enough for the little tent off the side of the trail where a railway line used to be. It’s still windy as we cook dinner, but it calms down just in time for bed. Today was tough but goooood hiking. A long day for a late start!

CDT Day 70 CT Day 11 Buena Vista

Oh beautiful coffee! How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
For the first time on this trail I make hot coffee and it is divine. Actually it’s probably one of the worlds crappest coffees, but when it’s cold, you are tired and camping, hot coffee is an absolute gift from heaven. It gets tastier the colder it is, the more miles you’ve hiked and the longer the distance you have beween towns. You really don’t know the joy of a thing until you haven’t had it for a long time.
Powered by coffee I bounce up the small climb out of camp, along the flatish bit at the top then down down down throught the pines, rock hopping across the streams, bushwhacking around the mud to the trailhead at the bottom.
Why we are so particularly hungry in this section I’m not sure, but we sit and eat and eat and eat, some deep insatiable hunger rising up from the depths of our depths. We ensure future us will be mad at present us because we have eaten today into deficit and we are certain to run out of food. Crap.
We hike along the side of a valley until we reach a large creek. There is a whole bunch of people with camp set up here who are swimming / washing in the creek, and a group of day hikers with giant gorgeous Bernese Mountain Dogs. One is particularly boisterous and bounds along with me to collect water to filter. I get so happy when I see dogs on the trail  – dog cuddles are good for the soul.
We have a climb now, a rather steep one. Across the creek the trees start getting taller and taller.  Grand old pines tower over the trail, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a while. The branches are covered in pale lichen, the trail is soft with all the pine needles and all the sounds are muffled. We have to be quiet in the old pines home 😀
The trees thin out again as we get higher and higher. It’s a gorgeous meadow, lush green with wildflowers as always, and it is surrounded by ridgelines. For the past hour clouds have been gathering and gathering, looking darker and darker. I find Grizzly and Yogi sitting on the trail, getting rain gear on and looking up anxiously. We hike fast. The rest of the trail is very exposed so we need to outrun whatver these clouds are planning on unleashing. Up up up then one last short but mean climb gets us to the top and we can see the highway and cottonwood pass below.
Zig zagging down to the little road pull off, I’m amazed at the number of cars…and secretly hoping for some trail magic. I understand quickly why so many cars. We are right in the Continental divide here and both sides of the pass have a beautiful view. Cars pull over, clean smelling people jump out, they take selfies, get back into the safety of the car, drive away.
The clouds are looking epic on the otherside. The wind is crazy up here and we sit on the ground using a giant suv as a windbreak, eat more food and try and see what this weather is going to do. We have 14 miles of exposed ridge walking coming up. 14 miles in this storm if it errupts.
Yogi had gone ahead and decided to chance it, then came running back 5 minutes later with reports of the end of the world happening. There is a small town 19 miles from the pass. There is food in this town…and no exposed potential human lightning rod hiking…thumbs out, we’ll be in beds again tonight!
The three of us get an awesome hitch with a just retired pro mountain bike racer. She doesn’t have her kids for a couple of days so she’s packed her van and is off on adventures. It’s very squishy inside, so I’m lying on her bed in the back. One minute I’m outrunning storms, the next I’m lying on my back staring at pink pom poms that adorn the ceiling, listening to Patsy Cline as we weave down down the windy road to Buena Vista.
Once in town we call and call hotels – everyone is booked. Finally we look down the road and see a hotel sign. We call and are lucky they had a cancellation! Then Yogi gets a message from a friend who is hiking the eastern loop (we are on the west) so we have a 4 person hiker room! Yay!
I find what sounds like an amazing restaurant on my Happy Cow app ( a brilliant app that tells you if there are any vegan or veggie food options nearby). We wander down, stinking our hiker stenches, and order some bowls that are made by angels. Beautiful fresh kale salads, veggies patties, avocado, roasted chillis, rice. Amazing fresh healthy food – just what my stomach ordered. Yum yum yum yum yum.
Then buying of more trail food from the store, showers, laundry, all the town things. Now it’s dinner time…so we wander back to the awesome restaurant for round 2!!! Nom nom nom. One minute running out of food on the side of the trail, next eating dinners I wouldn’t have even dreamed.
Ah I will sleep a good sleep tonight with a happy happy belly. A fan blows the warm air around the room, not doing much for the heat but blocking out town noises perfectly. Goodnight gorgeous little town! Goodnight room full of trail friends!

CDT Day 69 CT Day 10

18.5 miles hiked, camping at mile 23.8 @ 11102 ft. Highest points 12595ft Lake Ann Pass, 12533ft Hope Pass
I ambitiously set my alarm for very early, then predictably I wake and ignore it. I hike out of camp at a leisurely 740am and the trail immediately goes straight up for 2 miles. There is thick forest either side of the trail with dense undergrowth and bright bursts of colour from wildflowers. As I break through above treeline a meadow opens up all around with a stunning view of the pass up above. Mountains tower all around, still with snow patches, and the wildflowers are sprinkled through the grass. It’s a tough climb and switchbacks up for the last mile getting rockier underfoot. I stand the catch my breath and watch a pika gather a big bunch of grass and bounce up the almost vertical rock fall, grass in mouth, where I’m guessing he’s doing some interior decorating to his home. As I round the last switchback I’m hit with a gust f wind and a magnificent view as the collegiate peaks wilderness is spread out before me. 12533ft view is beautiful with craggy snow topped spires with a lush green valley below. At the top of the pass a series of prayer flags have been erected. It makes me smile to see them and think of all the stupas in Nepal. I have prayer flags tied to my pack that I picked up in Mt Shasta last year while hiking the PCT. Prayer flags always look like hiking to me.
Ooh the descent is a knee burner. The trail is steep, narrow and made of loose gravel and sand so I’m sliding all over. Finally below tree line I drink some water and filter some more, and eat more things than I should. Passes make me hungry!
Down down down down through the trees we hike. It gets hotter and hotter as we descend and we make sure to drink lots as we pass by more little streams.
The trees thin out and the ground is dustier at the bottom where we make a turn to head towards our next pass of the day – Lake Ann Pass. Steep up, steep down and repeat. Nothing flat in Colorado!
The climb is slightly less steep than Hope Pass for the first part, and the scenery more lush with prettier peaks crowding around. Another water stop and this time it’s from a waterfall! Such simple beautiful things that make you smile out here. The mist from the waterfall cools  us as we sit and filter watee, then the sum disappears behind some clouds. In the few minutes we are sitting it goes from unremarkable clouds floating by to grey, dark grey and distant soft rumblings of thunder. Eeps we have to get a move on to get over the pass. Breaking through above treeline we pass by the trail to Lake Ann, and as we ascend are treated to a view of the lake from above. We switchback across big boulders and rock slides, careful not to misstep and hurt ankles or break poles.
I’m powered by music and sing my way to the top of the pass, the music distracting me from my shakey legs and grumbling stomach. I’m again thinking of friends who suggested each of the songs on my playlist as I climb, imagine them singing along with me. Credence comes on and I immediately think of my Dad. He had a terrible memory, but could always tell you exactly where he was and what he was doing when a particular song came out. I don’t remember what the story was for Fortunate Son, but he pops into my head everytime I hear it. I wonder what he would have made of my crazy adventuring.
 The final trail to the top is across a skinny skinny ridge covered in snow. Don’t slip don’t slip!
The world on the other side of the pass is gorgeous. A wide valley with lakes and distant peaks, ones we will no doubt be climbing up towards in the next day or two. A few snowflakes start to fall at the top, and a fat fluffy marmot zooms across the rocks. Down we must go as the clouds are still overhead and looking mean!
Down down down. Steep steep steep. Down past all the rocks and into the pine trees. We make a wrong turn at a confusing junction, then quickly fix the mistake. We haven’t gone nearly as far as we wanted, but 2 passes has made it a tough day nonetheless. When we are yelles out to by a camper at a fairly flat area, and he invites us to come hang at the fire he has built up, it doesn’t take long for us to decide our day is over and set up camp.
The mosquitos are horrendous and the smoke from the fire is a great repellent. I jump intp the tent early and put some cream on my back – in addition to the relentless pain in my hip/thigh my pack has now rubbed my spine raw. The cream stings and I plan to cover my spine with fixomil tape in the morning. Oh to finally find a pack that doesn’t hurt me!
I fall asleep listening to the army of mosquitoes buzzing outside the tent, and dreaming of a pack as soft as a pillow.

CDT Day 68 CT Day 9

25 miles hiked. Camping at mile 5.3 of Collegiate West CT Alternate/ CDT @ 10896ft
I wake in our tiny campsite and head out first across the rocky sandy top of this climb amd down the other side. I pass a few campers but no one that seems to have a ‘proper’  campsite – we all clearly wanted to get to the top but had no flat places to camp! A giant camping area is 1.6 miles from where we stopped. Bugger.
An hour in I fetch water, filter it, eat some granola and soak my beans so they are ready for lunch. I’m there for about 25 minutes before Grizzly shows up and it turns out I was zooming! I managed over 3.5 miles in that first hour. For me that is epic.
I’m feeling good today, hopefully altitude will be my friend now! 😀
We have one decent climb today followed by a few bumps over 17 miles to twin lakes. We’re making good time, but kill all that progess by taking celebratory stops.
At lunchtime I invent a magic new meal – avocado with refried beans and hot sauce on rice cakes. Yuuuummm! I’m really hungry today and was yesterday too. I hope my giant pizza eating didn’t stretch my stomach.
It’s a toasty day and once we start the steep descent to twin lakes it gets hotter and hotter the lower in altitude we hike. By the time we stumble into the general store around 230pm we are parched and I make quick work of a coconut water.
I buy the worst resupply ever. We even asked on the CT page if there was any decent resupply at twin lakes and apparently we were told lies! All lies! There are 4 shelves total of food. My food for the next section is cliff bars for brekkie, peanut butter for lunch, ramen for dinner and fritos for snacks. Blergh. This right after one of my most bougie resupplies from Frisco. Oh well can’t win them all.
We eat food at the restaurant next door, where I drown myself in lemonade. Lemon power to get me up Hope Pass. We have a 3200ft elevation gain over 3.8 miles. We hike out and bush whack our way across the swampy area in front of the trail. Not the official way, but we aren’t in the mood for superfluous beside-hwy-walking.
We’re back on the trail and it is steeeeeeeep. We climb up up up beside a rushing stream covered with downed logs and filled with rocks and boulders covered in moss. My audiobook barely drowns out my heavy breathing as I climb and start to get a little concerned about where we will camp. There is nothing flat and I wasn’t planning on hiking over the pass tonight.
We pass by Willis Gulch and I send happy healthy healing thoughts to my poor puppy Willis who isn’t doing too well back home. I woke up this morning to some texts from home and the poor little man has been on my mind all day. I’ve often been thinking as I’m hiking this trail about camping adventures I’ll be going on with my dogs when I get home as reward for putting up with me leaving them. Breaks my heart to think of them being unhappy! Hopefully it’s a good sign I’m hiking past something that shares his name!
Hurrah the trail flattens out just for an instant and we find a great flat spot for the tent. We run around trying to outwit the mosquitoes as we set up, then dive into the tent as fast as possible so none follow. A few spoonfuls of peanut butter then a well earned sleepy time. I’ll be dreaming of doggie cuddles tonight.

CDT Day 67 CT Day 8

16.1 miles hiked
Camping at 159.3 @ 11096ft
We potter around the hostel doing all our chores, arranging and rearranging our things until at last our packs are clipped shut and we head out.
We grab coffee and hot cider, then walk a couple of miles to the safeway to get some more food to get us to twin lakes. I’m over the moon to discover they have instant refried beans! These are usually found in bulk food co-ops, and I found some in Walmart in Grants but haven’t had them since. It doesn’t sound very exciting, but somehow the salty goodness is perfection out here. I grab an avocado to join in with the refried beans on my rice crackers and am very excited for lunch time. Om nom nom.
We squeeze into the back of a truck with a girl in her way to work and arrive at the trailhead at the same time as Marty who we’ve been seeing for the past few days on trail. We pass on a message to a lady (Sparky) we see at the trailhead – we passed her in camp yesterday afternoon and saw that her sister left a message for her on the facebook group to give her a hug if we see her. Message delivered!
Up up up we climb through pines trees and past streams with the sun beating down.
We enter the Holy Cross wilderness and it is stunning! Beautiful lush meadows, bursts of colourful wildflowers, streams running through and of course snow capped mountains on every side.
We eat lunch staring out into the meadow and slapping at our legs, arms,  faces as the mosquitos have come out and are eating their lunch too – us!
One last climb before dinner and it’s a steep one! I listen to my audiobook to distract me from my gasping breathing and enjoy the climb. The trees thin out as I near the top, giving way to giant boulders and pale sandy ground. I can see patches of blue sky now and finally arrive at a dirt road, then the top.
There’s a view back to the turquoise lake below, a tiny town can be see in the distance. I run around to scare off the mozzies and dive into the tent in the tiny spot we have procured between 2 boulders. Freestanding tents with small footprints have their advantages!
Giant powerlines are buzzing in the distance, mozzies are buzzing next to the tent, and just as I’m drifting off Grizzly starts buzz sawing next to me. *SNORE!!!* Earplugs in, it’s sleepy time now.

CDT Day 66 CT Day 7

Sleeping in Leadville Hostel @ 10500ft
22.5 miles hiked
Woah! Where did the cold come from??? I wake and it’s freezing so I hike out wearing my puffy and hike around a ridiculous loop to get me to the Copper Mountain Resort. Probably 2 miles on the road and 4 on the trail.
I duck in to use the facilities, and to find some pokemon. What on earth happened the past few days? Get on trail and the world was fine, get back into town and we have beem invaded by pokemon and people staring obsessively at their phones!
 It’s a steep climb out of copper mountain then it becomes more gradual but climbs for 10 miles and over 3 passes. It’s not fast hiking, but it is beautiful. We bump into Bob and Dave, two volunteers who maintain a 5.5 mile section of the CT. They come up periodically to widen, flatten, clear and clean up their section, and they’ve just finished and are hiking out. We thank them and I take their photo. When we get to their section it’s easy to see how hard they have worked. Amazing volunteers on the CT! This trail is so well looked after.
We climb up above tree line and into magically beautiful world. Streams, wildflowers, marmots, patches of snow dotting the mountain. We climb up past a mountain hut which would be an epic place to stay – apparently they book up 6 months- 1 year in advance.
The wind picks up, the jackets go back on as we head over Searle Pass at 12044ft then 3 miles around the mountain to Elk Ridge at 12280ft, finally heading down to a Pass called Kokomo. That’s where you want to go to get away from it all…
It’s all downhill for the rest of the day. Down past meadows and more steams. We hike past camp hale which was the training ground for the 10th Mountain Division – a mountain and Arctic warfare division established during WWII. The bunkers there are a little creepy with lots of graffiti, and there are signs warning us not to touch landmines or unexploded bombs if we see them. Eeeps.
Through the trees we hike, climbing now up next to the highway for several miles. We meet a few other hikers along the way, then finally descend to the hwy where we hitch into Leadville for the night.
It’s pretty late by the time we get to the hostel, but we manage to scoff down a pizza (cheeseless of course!) each from mountain high pizza. So excited to find a pizza place that has more veges than just tomato and olives!
The Leadville Hostel is where we are laying our heads. I scrub off a surprising amount of dirt in the shower – it’s been a dusty trail the past few miles. Off to sleep late in a tiny, but perfectly blacked out room with my earplugs in – nothing will wake me tonight!