When I got back on Stony Pass (where I got off trail on Day 4) I was bound and determined to face this trail with whatever it was going to throw at me.
Good thing, because the following morning I woke up to 2 inches of “white stuff.” Sure it was cold but I didn’t mind because I was back on trail making miles and enjoying the postcard-like mountain scenes.
Starting in Durango and hiking northbound (NOBO) is a real challenge because you start with the hardest part first, climbing tremendously high elevations in such a short amount of time. When above timberline, sleet, hail, and snow are a common occurrence. Since I started at the Southern Terminus on September 8th, I have only met one other northbound Colorado Trail thru-hiker. I guess we didn’t read the brochure very well—the part about a northbound hike being the hardest thing you’ve ever done in the first week on trail!!
Anyway, I got a break in the weather and dropped from 12,0000 and 13,0000 feet to a more sensible 11,000 feet. As conditions became more favorable my daily mileage went up. On this stretch from Stony Pass to Highway 50, I’m staying above 20 miles per day with my highest mileage being 31 so far.
Due to high wind conditions, I’ve decided to take the Collegiate East Route, which is the traditional route around the Collegiate Mountains. The other option is the Collegiate West Alternate Route, which takes you up in the tundra regions and provides magnificent views but also takes you further from trail towns.
So far, I’m so glad I’ve stuck with this trail and can’t wait to hike the next stretch from Highway 50 to Twin Lakes Village. The quaking aspen are changing to bright golds!
I’ll update you all once I get there.
Oh, and I’ve seen a lot of mountain lion and bear tracks but they haven’t introduced themselves yet!
Til next trail town…