A Retrospective Update From the CDT: Oh Colorado!
Colorado, let me count the ways. I left off in Lake City, where, after taking a delightful surprise zero with family, I set off with my hiking companions into our next section. We left our snowshoes and other winter gear behind as we continued on our journey north on the CDT. Through the rest of Colorado, we faced our first boughts with bugs, WARM WEATHER, thunderstorms, and the first day in over a month where I made it through the whole entire day with dry feet–miracles do happen friends!
Colorado is an incredible section of trail on the CDT. Much of the trail runs with the Colorado Trail, and with it comes beautifully groomed tread, mostly free of blow-downs; gradual switchbacks that keep the walking consistent; and well-marked trail that kept navigation pretty simple through this area. We also immediately saw an increase of people we ran into on trail–mostly hikers walking the opposite direction towards Durango on the CT. We often joked that you could always tell the difference between a typical CT hiker and a typical CDT hiker. Can you tell the difference?
It was wonderful to see people again and to have the possibility of town visits so often, and let me tell you Colorado is full of amazing trail towns…and ANGELS. All through Colorado, I ran into lovely trail angels who gave us showers, beds, couches, backyards, food and drink, rides, and general good human interactions. It is always a delightful restoration of my faith in humanity to experience trail magic. Especially on a trail, like the CDT, where it is so rare.
While in Colorado, I climbed Mt. Elbert–the 2nd tallest mountain in the lower 48–scooting past over 100 people in 2 hours to bag my very first 14er. I was lucky to not experience any altitude sickness, which can be quite nasty to deal with.
It was around this time where I lost my phone. Zip up those pockets people! It was lost in a foggy, rainy, and treadless area, and it was a total bummer. After spending precious hours searching for it, I gave up the cause. This also means that I don’t have many pictures of this section of Colorado. If any of you find yourself on Glacier Peak outside of Breckenridge, CO and find a iPhone 5s in a black LifeProof case, let me know (I haven’t lost hope that it will be found one of these days)!
My attempt to climb Grays and Torreys peaks (two other 14ers along the trail) was foiled by a dark and questionable cloud that seemed to want to drop a storm on us at any second. Imagine my disappointment when halfway down the bail route, when this cloud all but disappeared and the sun came out… Oh well, you can’t take chances with those nasty clouds. You never know what they’re going to give you.
I made my way towards Grand Lake, CO and Rocky Mountain National Park. Along the way, I ran into Cowboy Stripper–haven’t seen him since New Mexico! We walked into Grand Lake, going over some pretty breath-taking ridges along the way.
There are two choices when it come to RMNP. It’s quite popular to do the 25 mile loop in the park on official trail. It is also quite popular to cut out the loop and skip the park almost entirely. I opted to do the 25 mile loop as a delightfully cruisy slackpack. I saw my first moose of the trail!
Parkview Mountain was the last mountain over 12,000 ft (elev. 12,300) on official trail that I would go over. It was my first of many encounters with excessively high wind speeds. Speeds over 60mph almost pushed me over as I made my way up the switchbacks to the summit. What an adventure!
As I made my way through Colorado, I was constantly overwhelmed with the incredible mountain ranges and wilderness areas. Mt. Zirkle Wilderness area was the last wilderness before the Wyoming border.
I remember feeling, yet again, taken aback by the beauty and the diversity of the area. Something that constantly amazed me as I walked the Continental Divide was how different each new area was compared to the last. There was no one-upping, just a constant stream of new and varied beauty.
Arriving at the Wyoming border gave me a sense of relief and excitement: another state down! I knew that Wyoming would bring a very different experience, and I was so excited to move on to the next leg of my CDT journey!
Stay tuned for next time: walking through the Great Divide Basin, Wind Rivers, and Yellowstone National Park!
You can also check out my Instagram account if you want a taste of what I’ll be sharing, as well as my current adventures back home in Utah. Follow me, @kaytebrown!
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