We have now past the halfway point in our Colorado Trail hike and will be taking our first day off from hiking in the small town of Salida, CO (13 miles east of the Colorado Trail).
Hiking has been great and the weather good (except for last night’s rain, but that mostly happened after we set up camp).
On Saturday we stopped for a meal and hot shower at Mt. Princeton hot springs because it was 50 feet off the trail. On a Saturday the place was busy, busy. Deb found the women’s shower room packed with about 25 women and children – she recommends you try to get there on a weekday instead. The market had sandwiches and burritos making our resupply easy.
Our hitch into Salida was so easy since we talked to a mountain biker on the walk down to highway 50 and he offered a ride without being asked. We are staying at the Aspen Leaf motel for the same price as the private room at the hostel (which had no availability for 2 nights.)
Water has been plentiful with many more seasonal streams running that are not listed in the data book, so we’ve been mostly carrying a liter at a time.
Greetings from the small community of Twin Lakes, Colorado. We have now hiked 175 miles of the Colorado Trail with 309 miles remaining.
The hike is going well and the weather has improved. It’s been three days since any significant rain has fallen.
We saw a red fox this morning from our tent site, Deb’s second sighting of a red fox since she saw one strolling through the town of Breckenridge.
Last Saturday on our second day in Breckenridge we slack packed from Copper Mountain, 14.4 miles back to our hostel room at the Fireside Inn (a great place to stay!) The day’s 10% chance of rain turned into 100% by the time we had 6 miles remaining to make it back to our room. Thankfully we had a shower and hot tub waiting for us! We both really liked Breckenridge and talked about a longer stay there someday.
We still haven’t seen any moose or elk or cougar or bear. The alpine meadows have been mostly quiet.
The Colorado trail itself can get quite steep, especially in the wilderness sections where the grades don’t have to make the mountain bikers happy (bikes are not allowed in the wilderness sections.) Deb is nick-naming the trail the “calf-burner.” The other oddity of the trail is the high treeline – it seems we have to be higher than 11,000 feet before we have expansive views.
Today we passed the 100 mile mark in our hike and we arrived in the resort community of Breckenridge, Colorado.
The Colorado Trail gives up any pretense of being a wilderness experience here as the trail drops down from the mountains between a mobile home park and a condominium complex to a bus stop on the outskirts of Breckenridge. (The mobile home park was nicer than any I have seen with many of the mobile homes built like log cabins that surrounded a small lake).
Feeling it best to adapt to our new surroundings, we checked into the lovely Fireside Inn Hostel, showered, washed clothes, and sampled one of the many restaurants. Deb has made plans for us to “slack pack” the next 12 miles of trail.
Slack packing is hiking without carrying a heavy backpack full of camping gear. Tomorrow we will catch the free shuttle bus to the Copper Mountain ski resort and walk the 12 miles of Colorado Trail back to Breckenridge for another night of luxury at the Fireside Inn. On Saturday we will resume backpacking from Copper Mountain.
The past few days have not all been luxury. A few days ago we crossed over the Continental Divide for the first time with a long strenuous climb to just shy of 12,000 feet.
The weather has been interesting on the Colorado Trail. It rains every day like clockwork at three PM — except on the days it rains at noon or five PM or during the night. The thunderstorms usually don’t last very long, but they can be pretty exciting with lightning and loud thunder and sometimes hail. If you are planning on hiking the Colorado Trail bring some extra socks, it’s a challenge keeping them dry.
We have made it 72 miles on the Colorado Trail to Kenosha Pass where we are making a quick stop in the small town of Jefferson to resupply.
The hike has been wonderful so far and we have met quite a number of fellow hikers who are hiking to Durango. About 15 hikers were camped the first night near the South Platte River Trailhead.
Rain showers have appeared like clockwork every day but we haven’t used our heavy rain gear yet except umbrella and poncho. Luckily yesterday’s heavy rain fell after we were snug in our tent. We are feeling the climbs but are keeping up with some younger hikers. We feel exhilarated and exhausted but the scenery is SO worth the efforts.
Photo: Deb in an Aspen grove in the Lost Creek Wilderness.
Today we went from movie stars (sort of) to the Painted Desert. We spent the night at the El Rancho Hotel and Motel in Gallup, which claims many movie stars have lodged there while filming in the nearby desert. We stayed in the less expensive motel, but enjoyed our stay. We stopped for much of the day in Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert and then continued on to Holbrook.
Departing Santa Rosa, Route 66 was mostly covered over by Interstate Highway 40 for the next 75 miles. This made for quick travel but not as interesting as yesterday’s smaller roads. Then we traveled through the sprawl of Albuquerque for quite some time. Finally, in the afternoon we made it to very scenic Laguna Pueblo Land and then on to Gallup.
We started our journey along historic Route 66 today heading west toward California. Route 66 roughly parallels Interstate Highway 40 and we seldom traveled more than a few miles from the Interstate. When the Interstate highway came through, towns and businesses not fortunate enough to have convenient highway access withered and died.
There were boo coo sights today, ranging from painted fiberglass ponies to scary motel signs to colorful wall murals to museum-quality iron works such as, well, irons heated with coals or with gasoline. We also talked with interesting locals running the museums and shops, in some cases they were newly retired and beginning new projects to revive and keep alive Route 66.
Today we arrived in Amarillo, Texas late, just as the sun was setting and made a trip out to Cadillac Ranch, an unusual public art exhibit off historic Route 66 (now Interstate 40) west of Amarillo. Cadillac Ranch was commissioned by local millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 (yes, that’s 3 not III) in the 70’s.
Tomorrow we begin driving historic Route 66 back to California.
Day 174: September 23rd
Mile 2653.8 to Manning Park, BC
This morning I walked the final six miles to the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail at the Canadian border where I found Deb waiting for me. She had camped at the trail camp about 2/10 mile into Canada.
We celebrated briefly (along with a handful of other hikers who arrived at the same time), took a few photos, and drank a tiny bottle of Champagne that Deb carried in.
Deb and I then hiked eight miles to the Manning Park where we had a late lunch and checked into the lodge.
2,660 miles of continuous footsteps from the Mexican border to the Canadian border are done. The hike has been an amazing journey that I have thoroughly enjoyed.