Finding Respite on the Collegiate East Trail (June 15-21)
June 15. The Collegiate East trail runs on the eastern edge of the Sawatch range, with a view of the valley below. (It is so named for proximity to the Collegiate Peaks section of the Sawatch range.) It was neat to feel a contrast, looking down on yellow desert valley below from green forested mountains above.
I met a few hikers heading up to hike 14000+ footer Mount Yale. Better them than I!
It was comforting to summit the first pass of the day and remain within the tree line. It was a soothing day, sitting by creeks to eat or filter water, listening to birds and insects versus the silence of the world above tree line, talking with southbound Colorado Trail hikers from time to time. The rush of cool air through the pines and firs, a sandy well-worn path. No vast views and also no great fears.
I was glad for a more peaceful day of hiking.
June 16. I started the day hiking down in an arid sagebrush environment. The hiking in the morning from my camping area to Twin lakes was a mix of aspen forest and dry desert.
Twin Lakes sticks out as an oasis, a deep blue body of water in the middle of desert, with greener snow-peaked Rocky mountains above. It is a nice spot for campers, kayakers, boaters.
The lakes were pretty. It was a hot day, and I decided to go down to one beach area and swim. I was surprised the water wasn’t frigid from snow melt.
North of the lakes, I followed the trail climbing back up into the mountains. It was nice to get back into forest in the late afternoon. I walked by beaver lodges and dams on a creek that feeds into Twin Lakes. One beaver lodge was the largest I ever remember seeing.
I can’t say enough good about the Collegiate East trail, especially as it pertained to my CDT hike.
June 21. Back again on the official CDT, I hiked over some lingering snowy patches today. Nothing steep or frightening.
As I was descending towards the town of Silverthorne, a local man out running caught up to me. He loves running on these mountains. He told me that if his family is out of town, he finishes his work as quickly so that he can go up and run on the mountains for as much of the day as possible.
He walked in front of me, talking about the scenery for a couple of miles. He clearly cared deeply for this land near his home. I would meet many people in my time hiking through Colorado who had felt similarly pulled to the landscape and moved here from other states.
It was encouraging to meet people who felt a connection and respect for the natural habitats near them.
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