CT Part 1- Into Breck
I’m sitting in Breckenridge eating fresh-baked goods (ordered wearing a mask, of course) and feeling fortunate to not be out in the afternoon thunderstorms. With COVID-19 still widespread, I’m spending the night in my own hotel room and making sure to wear a mask when in town. After four full days and one very quick morning into town, my heart and eyes are already full of beauty.
Day 1- Waterton to Mile 20
Waterton was relatively flat and cool in the early morning hours. I was absolutely blown away to see a double-crested cormorant in Colorado, a bird I thought was only found near saltwater.
The highlight of the day was the South Platte River, the biggest water source for Segments 1 and 2.
A long afternoon was spent lounging beneath a willow tree, periodically dipping into the water, like this American dipper.
After passing the heat of the day in the cool shade of the river edge, we made a short, four-mile jaunt up into the 10-mile waterless stretch to camp for the night. We were initially still in the hot, full sun at 5 p.m. However, the clouds provided us with some relief before the cool of the evening.
Day 2- Mile 20 to the Lost Creek Wilderness Boundary
The morning of day two started early, to once more avoid the heat, with a steady rolling hike to the Firehouse, the next water source. Only the deer and I were up to watch the last dregs of the sunrise.
The light coming across the last remnants of the burn was incredible. It felt like being above treeline.
The trail is absolutely packed with wildflowers in all sorts of colors and types, like these columbine.
Day 3- Wilderness Boundary to Rock Creek
Yet another cool morning start, this one with an alternating mix of aspen stands and pine trees.
A steady uphill in the early morning was rewarded with a long six miles tracing a meadow.
More meadows and grassy aspen stands nearly ended the day in addition to some scary looking clouds. The clouds held off, fortunately, and camp was made for the night.
Day 4- Rock Creek to Swan River
I don’t think I could pick an absolute favorite section of the trail, as it is all so incredibly gorgeous. However, the alternating aspen groves and meadows leading up past Kenosha Pass were simply stunning. You could look down the valley for miles and catch glimpses of the shoulder of Georgia Pass we were to go over.
It was on my way up Georgia Pass that I touched my first snow of the trip! Having grown up in Missouri, snow in the summer will always be a novelty and joy for me.
While still below treeline, I heard a rumbling off over my right shoulder. I looked and could first see the white upper and outer layers of a large cloud and could just make out the dark, flat underbelly. As I continued upward, my pace picked up with the goal of getting to treeline and watching the storm to see if an attempt over the top was possible. However, as I approached treeline, the cloud seemed to have not moved substantially and I strode forward as quickly as possible to make it over, along with this bikepacker. A momentary stop for pictures at the top was the only celebration before a quick descent back into the trees and then all the way down to the Swan River for the night. My first real Colorado thunderstorm was narrowly missed and thankfully spent in my tent well below treeline.
Day 5- Town Day
Does it count as a nero if you have to hike 15.5 miles to get into town? Regardless, it still certainly felt like one by hiking quickly and getting in before noon. A multitude of hikers came in on the same day, having camped near 15 other hikers all planning on a town day at the same time.
In quick succession, I ate a yellow bell pepper like an apple, a juicy plum, several freshly baked goods, and I tried to drink a kombucha that was much too fizzy to enjoy. With those items, I concluded the first stretch of my first thru-hike and spent a solo night in a hotel getting clean and writing.
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.