Colorado Trail: Segments 9-11

Update from the Igloo

Hiiii friends. I wanted to pop on to give you all an update. My trail fam and I finished Segments 9, 10, and 11, but we’re now currently held up in Leadville due to the early event of heavy snowfall in Colorado. We’re waiting a bit for the weather to warm up and for the snow to melt, but we’ll be back on trail in a few days.

Segment 9

Segment 9 begins at Tennessee Pass near Minturn. This area offers gentle terrain, beautiful pine groves, and access to many 10th Mountain Division huts. We trucked on through this section in just a few hours, but we enjoyed all of the flowing streams, encounters with overnight backpackers, and quick chats with friendly day hikers. We met some very cute doggies along the way as we thoroughly enjoyed an easy morning in the forest.

Segment 9 becomes a bit more steep and incredibly awe-inspiring as it crosses through the Holy Cross Wilderness. This wilderness area is what initially brings you into the Sawatch Range while offering access to some amazing subalpine lakes.

Segment 10

Segment 10 begins near Turquoise Lake. The trail becomes rather steep as it climbs some rocky switchbacks—it also offers some quick and fun slabby rock faces to boulder around on. We completed segments 9 and 10 in one day, making it a 25-mile haul. I believe we climbed over 4,000 vertical feet in that distance. Climbing that much means a lot of descending as well. It was a day full of walking uphill and then downhill repeatedly. I was definitely feeling it with my fully loaded pack while carrying six days worth of food after my recent resupply.

We camped in Segment 10 between Willow Creek and South Willow Creek to avoid the cold air sitting in the low katabatic zones. We set up just past the turn off to where the Mount Massive Trailhead spur meets the CT.

Segment 11

We began Segment 11 the next morning and trucked it into Twin Lakes (about 10 miles). Izzy and Garden Center went to pick up packages while we dispersed into two groups as we went on our own missions to get a hitch into Leadville. Lil Engine and I continued around the lake until the CT intersected with the highway. It was incredibly smoky this day. The air was thick, visibility was low, and it smelled like a campfire from the burning wildfires surrounding us.

Engine and I got a hitch from a wonderful local woman and her two daughters. She picked us up because she and her husband had met on the AT back in the day, and she can never leave backpackers on the side of the road. Her kiddos were nordic skiers and overall outdoor badasses. We all had a wonderful conversation as she drove us to the Inn the Clouds Hostel.

Hostel Life

This will be our third out of four nights staying at the hostel, and I honestly can’t complain about our current situation. We have a warm and safe space to seek refuge from the weather. We are able to cook and eat all the food we desire. The people here are kind, and we are surrounded by so many like-minded individuals. The amount of love, compassion, and community I’ve felt since arriving in Leadville is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We met some wonderful women on trail, and although we had to say goodbye to two of them, Snickity has officially joined our crew. We also met an awesome dude named Encore (Seancore) who is hiking NOBO, but has joined our lodging gang as well. I LOVE THESE HUMANS. Leadville is rad, and we all even scored some Melanzana hoodies when their store opened today.

We will be picking our hike back up at the beginning of the Collegiate West Segment. Peace, love, and happy trails!


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