Day 85 – 91 The high point

Day 85

Slept poorly last night from a combination of cold and skipping dinner. I hiked 7 easy miles out of town and was still stuffed with town food and had no appetite for dinner. I should’ve force fed myself though, hindsight is 20/20 though. Also, I forget the exact dreams, I do remember that Matt Mercer, the dungeon master from critical role, was narrating them. I’ve been listening to a *lot* of their podcasts on trail.

The ducks of the Colorado River.

The food for the day was lots and lots of small pies. We went to a ranch store on trail that apparently had leftovers from a wedding the other day. We each had probably 5-6 pies and pastries.

Glad I ignored this and the somewhat ominous no trespassing sign. Otherwise – no pie.


Free pies! And closed eyes! And bad rhymes!

The rest of the day was lots and lots of climbing. Though we stopped short of going to the ridge we originally targeted. A good call since we’re 800′ lower and it’s still quite cold and windy. Looking forward to picking up warmer layers in Leadville.

Not sure which was more confusing: the bunch of pyres I was photographing or the accidentally pictured woman on her cell phone with no pack out in the middle of nowhere.

Day 86

Eventful day! Loads of ridge walking. The first half was walking along a ridgeline to, eventually, James Peak. The first 13k peak of the trip. And the third highest I’ve been in myself (planes aside, since I feel the need to be overly detailed).

Hikers on a ridge.

From the summit, Pierre, Rick, and I decided to do an alternate route that stayed on the ridge in lieu of dropping down to the valley only to go immediately back up to 13k again. The route was 5 miles shorter and had much less elevation gain. It was a lot of fun and aside from a couple small scree slopes not especially sketchy.

Surveying the crux of the traverse. Photo cred: Pierre

We were racing a storm, though. It also had a few, uh, Marilyn Monroe moments with the kilt. Hasn’t been an issue previously on the cdt (or pct) with the kilt but it was windy and this ridge created a number of updrafts

End of the traverse. And beginning of the race to avoid the storm behind me. Photo cred: Pierre

All went well and we got down to the highway and a warming hut before the rain. Beekeeper’s dad was there waiting and took us to safeway in town before everyone else showed up to get drinks, pastries, and snacks. Tonight the warming hut is overrun with thru hikers.

I mean, I feel like this is to be expected.

Day 87

Zero day to wait out the storm. After a lousy night of sleep for everyone we hitched down to Winter Park.

Slow easy town day.

Day 88

Somewhat dreaded today as it required an early start out of town in the tail end of the storm we were waiting out.

Misty start to the morning.

The first climb of the day was cold, snowy, and windy. Though, thankfully, conditions improved later in the day. By the end, it was calm, sunny, and I was running into a number of day hikers. It made for a big contrast from being on a ridge in a whiteout.

Summit pic! And the view from inside a cloud.

Tomorrow will be going up Mt Gray, the high point of the cdt at 14k and change. The climb itself is easy but there is a lot of snow up there and the trail after is mostly exposed ridgewalking. Everyone who attempted it today had to turn back. Tomorrow will be clear and sunny so hopefully it’ll be passable. Looking forward to being past both this storm and the crux section of trail.

Day 89

That may be the hardest 13ish miles I’ve ever hiked but it’s done. Very pretty, though offset by constantly having to watch my feet. Fell a few times but nothing worse than a bruised elbow.

To start the day, this both hilariously incorrect and somewhat insulting sign.

The sign right next to this one showed the section following Mt Gray, the traverse across to Mt Edward as ‘trail undefined’.  Which is true; there isn’t a trail to speak of, just a mixed class 3 / 4 scramble.  Commonly referred to as less rugged terrain.  Or the sketchiest part of the CDT thus far.

Summit views

The upcoming ‘less rugged’ traverse.

The climb up to Mt. Gray was easy but *really* crowded with day hikers. I ran into Cookie Monster, Coach, and Lexi who were coming down. Apparently they took a short break to go peak bagging 14ers. I haven’t seem them since Darby; from various trail registers I thought I was 5-6 days behind them.

The snow really made the Argentine Spine pop.


Climbing back off the spine. Photo cred: Pierre

Camped half a mile from the end of the Argentine spine alternate, a route which follows a ridgeline instead of dropping into the valley. Beautiful, though it felt much more difficult with the snow. At 12.5k this is the highest I’ve ever camped. Anticipating a chilly night.

Dinner on a ridge. Photo cred: Pierre

Day 90

Warmer night than I expected or deserved for being exposed on a ridge that high. We had some camp visitors before we left for the morning – a family of goats. We were very jealous of how warm they looked.

Morning visitors.

Rejoining the main cdt I’d hoped the trail would be easier, but it wasn’t. Or at least not much. It had a climb as sketchy as anything on the alternate. And just ridgewalking through snow and later slush.

Back off the Argentine Spine. Photo cred: Quickdraw

Late in the day we got off the ridge and joined the Colorado trail. Being on a well-groomed & marked trail made a world of difference. As did being among trees again.

This ridge had a surprising amount of traffic.


Downside of ridgewalking – marginal water sources.

Day 91

Breakfast in bed?

Really nice to be back among the trees.

The morning view.

The CDT joined the Colorado trail late last night.  And suddenly it’s *way* easier.  Instead of struggling along a ridge at 1.5 mph hiking at 3+ down in the trees.  It made today much easier.

Crossed the highway to Breckenridge with a rather odd assortment of McMansions.  Kind of a jarring change.

When the CDT literally goes thru a backyard.

The rest of the day was a climb up and over the ridge between Breckenridge and Copper Mountain.  A long climb which culminated with getting to the ridge right at the same time as a storm. 

The storm got worse but I didn’t stop to take more pictures.

We booked it down the ridge into town and opted for a hotel after visiting the only open food in this resort town.  It was an overpriced Irish pub but not shocking given the locale.

I mean, there’s buck hunter.

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