Waterton Canyon to Breckenridge on the CT

CT notes day 1Today I began a new thru hike. I know what you’re thinking, but you didn’t finish the CDT? Maybe I needed inspiration and a break from the monotonous central Montana landscape.. Maybe I missed Colorado alittle… Maybe the CDT isn’t for me at the moment… Who knows but I’m ecstatic to be on the Colorado Trail. It’s a 458 mile hike from just south of Denver, to Durango Colorado. It’s a hike I wanted to do but had planned to do after I finished the longer trails. But here I am. Somewhere around 300 miles of the CT overlaps with the CDT, which is very nice. After completing the CT, Snakebite and I plan on finding a way to Cuba New Mexico in hopes of piecing together more of the CDT. We would love to finish both trails this summer but I think a very realistic goal for me is to leave myself nothing more then Cuba New Mexico and south to the Mexican border. Or we may finish the CT and then go to Harry Potter land instead, who knows. We just go where the wind takes us it seems. Our first day on the CT started at about 8am. My sister gave us a ride before she went to work. It’s a strange thing starting a thru hike after sleeping in your own bed until 6am the morning of. Miles came pretty easily today, and so did passing other hikers. We hiked 25.3 miles in total, and passed 16 hikers for the day. Some started today, some started the day before us. I think this will be abit of a trend. It certainly makes you feel good during the day, passing people who started hiking a day before you. We’re hoping to keep a fairly quick pace while on this trail, somewhere around 3 weeks would be a great pace for finishing. Hopefully we have good weather, a great time, and many happy memories to look back on from the CT. 
Day 2
We woke up this morning with a light covering of dew on our sleeping bags. Skies were clear, winds were light, and temps were already pleasant. After packing up we departed camp at about 7am with the hope of doing about 25 miles again. The morning miles seemed to be fueled by the determination of getting miles in before the heat of the day. The theme of today was climbing. It seemed like we climbed all day long with little break. We managed about 11 miles before 12am with a few breaks mixed in. We started the day at 7599 feet of elevation, we were headed to a campsite that sits at 10,195 feet. The climb at first was gradual, it became steeper at the end up the day. As we climbed the landscape continued to change. We saw more and more aspens, some of the largest aspens I’ve ever seen. It seemed that the higher we got the more beautiful the scenery and the more that it began to remind me of being on the JMT last year. As you hike this trail you see a constant flow of beautiful campsites, both in scenery and in campsite appearance. Campsites that have logs pulled up as benches, fire rings made, perfectly flat ground. This was not the CDT anymore. We continued to put miles behind us and before we knew it we had topped out on our climb. The end of the day consisted of a couple miles of flat to downhill stretches and then we had made it to our goal for the day. 24.1 miles today and 49.4 miles for the first two days. Tomorrow won’t consist of as much climbing, which is good because we need to get to the town of Jefferson and get out before dark. This will be a 22.3 mile day before town. Gonna have to hustle. 
Day 3
The morning started off very chilly, frost was covering the ground in the shady areas when we departed camp at 8am. Our goal for the day was to reach Kenosha Pass and if it was early enough get a hitch into the very very small town of Jefferson. We sent a small package with a couple days worth of food, which we don’t need, and Snakebite sent her rain gear that she had ordered to Jefferson as well. The day was a grind for me through and through. I’m not sure if it was the 50 miles in two days before, the gain in elevation to over 10k, or the relentless sun and heat. Today was a very good day to have a hiking partner to push you along. I’m fairly certain I could have done 10 miles for the day and called it quits early on. Instead we plugged along and managed 22.1 miles and made it to Kenosha Pass. The market that has our boxes was closing at 6pm and we made it to the pass around a quarter to 6. We had resigned ourselves earlier in the day that stopping at the pass and camping at it was the best idea. We would simply wake up and immediately get a hitch into town and back out to get our miles in tomorrow. We were fortunate enough to get some trail magic near the pass from a couple of wonderful gentlemen that had hotdogs, chips, and country time Arnold Palmer mix. We enjoyed a bag of chips and a cold beverage and chatted for awhile. We were in no major hurry since we were camping near by. Our goal is to do a if day tomorrow and have a small day left on Saturday so we can get into Breckinridge nice and early and enjoy a room, shower, laundry, and good food. We have 32.6 miles to get to the road that leads into Breckinridge or Frisco. We’re not certain which we will stay in, depends on where we can find a decent room for a good price. Tomorrow is another day with new adventures to come. 
Day 4
The sun began breaking through the trees of our stealth campsite near the Kenosha Pass campground. We packed up in a hurry and made our way to the road by 7am. The store in Jefferson opened at 7am and we wanted to be in and out quickly. We got a hitch within a few minutes and made our way into the small store. Unfortunately it was as I thought it would be, uninspiring and lacking in almost anything that we were craving. We got our packages and I bought a gallon of orange juice, which I drank in the span of about 10 minutes. Snakebite had a small coffee and we organized our food, made lodging reservations for Breckenridge/ Frisco, and we were off to get a hitch back to the pass. Today we had our first pass to climb since we started the trail, Georgia Pass. It was a slow and steady climb up, really almost perfect trail conditions. For alittle while we hiked with a gentleman who’s trail name is hashtag. We talked a lot about long trails, which he was curious about, and gear. It was the first person I had met on this trail that was knowledgeable about some of the ultralight gear. Time passed and we were getting closer to the top, and racing some thunderstorms. As we got to the top of pass we looked back down on the valley below and the huge thunderstorm that was dumping rain on it. We had made it up just in time. On the backside of the pass we were surprised by trail magic again!! At just below 12k feet of all places. A small rough forest road ran up the backside of the pass and a couple, along with his mother, and an undetermined 4th person decided to do trail magic. They were from Texas and were here on vacation, the couple had hiked the trail the year before. We sat just below the pass and drank a cold beer and petted the 4 dogs they had brought with them while we all chatted. This was a great surprise. The miles came a bit slowly after the beer and long break, although we didn’t have far to go. We ended up doing just over 20 miles and settled into camp early. Tonight we had a lovely dinner of Chana Masala. We’re really not roughing it that much out here :). Tomorrow we will enjoy all the running water and food we can handle in Frisco. We will wake up early and knock out the remaining 12 miles, hopefully quickly, and then relax. 
Day 5
It was a restless night, probably because of a poor tent placement and uneven ground to sleep on. We were tired but still in trail by 7am, after all it’s TOWN DAY!!! I was in a grumpy mood this morning, I think I was just ready to be in town and ready to be clean. The morning passed by quickly and we took only two small breaks to eat a bar or two. I was certainly saving room for the wealth of food Frisco had in store for us. We made it to the road and the bus stop that would take us to town alittle after 11am. I called the Holiday Inn to see if we could check in early, we were in luck. We checked into the hotel did laundry and showered and I was off for food. The first stop for me was Taco Bell, I’ve been craving it. As a hiker we will eat almost anything when we get to town, but some things just sound better then others. Taco Bell, fresh squeezed Grapefruit Juice, and a huge salad from Whole Foods. Between mass feedings we managed to also do our resupplies for the short stretch to Leadville. Tomorrow we will hit the trail again and knock out some of the 40 miles to Leadville. Things should continue to get tougher as we get into the heart of the Colorado Rockies. We hope in the days ahead to also bag some 14ers. We will make plans for this when we get to Leadville. 


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