It was hard to leave Salida, especially with a hiker party going on at a brewery, but we got a ride back to Monarch Pass with local Trail Angel Tom and hit the trail. We made it about 9 miles down the trail logging a 15 mile day with a 7 hour town stop in between complete with food, resupply, shower, laundry, and writing my last blog. Boom.
We were excited for this stretch through the Collegiate mountains. Last year on the Colorado Trail, we took the lower Collegiate East route. This time, we took the high route and were oh so glad we did.
May I present Colorado’s Collegiates…
The weather was absolutely perfect, we couldn’t have asked for a better couple of days to take in this mind blowing section. This is quite the ideal year to hike the CDT as we’ve dealt with very minimal snow pack. The Collegiates could be virtually impassable in a typical snow year in June. We were also stoked to see green trees again unlike the dying forests in Southern Colorado affected by beetle kill.
Each day through this section brought incredible views and intense challenges as we were climbing 5000-6000 feet per day through pass after pass.
We found a perfect camping spot after a long day. I guess the pika were glad we chose to camp by their rock fort. They attacked like thieves in the night stealing one of my brand new socks from my vestibule as well as chewing off ALL FOUR of our trekking pole handle straps. 😒
Our next day was another huge challenge, but oh so rewarding. The Collegiate Wilderness has quickly become one of my favorite sections of hiking despite all the hard work.
Our final steep climb of the day brought us to Lake Ann Pass. Snow greeted us as we reached the top, and we made a sketchy crossing following the footsteps of our forefathers down a ladder like stair step down the snow.
We made camp after coming down from the pass. I sincerely can’t wait to come back here and bring some friends. We were blown away.
The next morning, we had one final pass to climb – a mere 2400 ft in 2 miles over Hope(less) Pass. A few miles later we walked into the tiny town of Twin Lakes and left the Collegiates behind us.
We killed a little time in town before heading back into the woods. We camped 65 miles from Highway 9 to Breckenridge and wondered if we could accomplish the stretch in just two days. Well – ready, set, go!!
Sean led the way breaking camp at 5 am both days, and we pushed to see what we could do skirting Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive on our first day. We were proud we accomplished our biggest day on the CDT – 32.5 Miles – but were unsure if we could do another 31.5 miles the next day including two huge climbs.
We woke up early once again knowing if we could make our goal town dreams would come true. We hiked 17 miles by 12:30 and arrived at Copper Mountain resort. The weather broke as we sat and enjoyed tall coffees. After our break, we put on our rain gear and set out for our next big climb and 16 more miles to town.
We were so thankful the weather held up as we pushed ourselves up and over a mountain dreaming about Breckenridge – particularly the vegan pizzeria we enjoyed last year as we passed through on the Colorado Trail. We made it – exhausted and excited – to the highway at about 8:20 giving us 40 minutes to make pizza dreams come true at Piante Pizzeria. We were so stoked to get a hitch just in time. We grabbed our pie and headed to our cozy room proud of the 65 miles we had traveled in a mere two days.