Daily Miles: 21
Total Miles: 92
We both had a great night of sleep for the first time on the trail. It wasn’t too cold and it seems we were just both exhausted enough to sleep soundly.
We were on the trail before 6:30am and soon came to the road we had heard since the evening before. There were several informational signs near the parking lot which described the history of the area including the railroad, mining, ranching, and charcoal production. It also talked about the Native Americans from the area. We always like to read the signs to gain little tidbits of info about a place we are passing through.
Once we crossed the road, we started to see some wooden teepee-like structures along the trail. A few looked finished, but many appeared to be at different levels of “works in progress.” Not sure who is making these or what purpose they serve. There’s not really much room in them, so that makes us think they are more just for decoration or someone’s pastime.
When we stopped at the first water source in the morning, we talked for awhile with a couple, Heart and Gone Fishing, who had hiked the PCT in 2012 (the same year as Beardoh). Heart remembered crossing paths with Beardoh when they both got the same hitch from Etna back to the trail! We love having experiences like this that make the world feel small.
We were pretty much climbing in elevation until around 2pm, but the climb was so gradual, it was quite pleasant. We saw our first patches of snow near the trail today, but luckily the trail is snow-free. There were quite a lot of mountain bikers on the trail again today, and we stopped and talked with several bike-packers.
The climb finished near 12,000 feet. It was overcast and cool and the wind got stronger as we got closer to the high point. As soon as we passed to high point marker, the wind got so strong it was blowing us off the trail, and we started to get pelted by blowing sleet. We tried to scurry to tree cover as quickly as we could, given the strong wind. We took cover behind some trees and, just as quickly as it started, it was over. Crazy Colorado weather!
Shortly after the high point for the day, the CT merged with the Continental Divide Trail. We have several friends hiking it this year, so we were keeping our eyes open for them. We ended up only seeing three CDT hikers during the rest of the day…such a difference from the PCT!
We stopped at 5pm for our dinner break, which we have come to enjoy. On all of our other hikes, our standard routine has been just to hike to camp and then eat dinner. We decided to try something different for this hike, where we stop for about an hour for dinner and then hike another 45 – 75 minutes further before setting up camp.
We walked by tons of tents a mile or so before stopping for the night. Since it was before 7pm, we figured they are all either CT hikers or folks just out for the weekend. We assume the CDT hikers wouldn’t be setting up camp so early.
We only met four new CT hikers today. We saw a few more pass us when we were stopped for breaks. Trails like the CT, which can be considered a medium length hike, tend to have such a range of hikers going different paces. You don’t have everyone trying to squeeze many miles into a narrow window of good weather, like on a longer trail. This creates a situation on medium-length trails, where people can go 8 miles a day if they want, or they can go 25 miles a day or more. That definitely contributes to the fact that most days, we see all new people. So far on the trail, we have had lunch with other hikers 2 out of the four days. We have eaten dinner alone each night and camped alone each night. Even though we enjoy meeting new hikers each day and chatting with them, there doesn’t seem to be an expectation that we will see them again. It is just interesting sometimes to think about the different characteristics of different trails.