The morning snuck into our tent barely waking us up. We got ready quickly and then tackled the rest of the climb. The day would start with a climb and end with a climb, everything in the middle would be small rolling hills through pine forests trending down to Tennessee Pass.
Once we made it to the highway, we saw the 10th Mountain Division Monument and a ton of people out enjoying the day. We parted ways with Charlie and Hannah, who had to run back to Leadville, and then we headed down the trail to get in a couple more miles before lunch.
We enjoyed lunch tucked back into a gully by a spring and watched several mountains bikers splash by on the trail. After eating and letting our feet dry out, we packed up and start towards our final climb of the day. Unfortunately, we kept having to jump off trail to let bikers go by, and sometimes they would not shout out to us until they were right on us, if they warned us at all. We passed near Camp Hale, which housed remains of a 10th Mountain Division training facility from World War II, and we saw more signs warning about having caution if coming across old ammunition.
We made it down to a road and crossed over to the other side and began climbing. The trail took us up through Aspen groves, past a waterfall, and alongside meadows that eventually opened up as we reached the tree line. We were nearing Kokymo Pass sitting at 12,024 feet. After stopping to filter water, we were able to sit and take everything in around us. We were above the trees and clouds looking out at a dramatic, snow shadowed mountain range in front of us. A bowl of green peaks surrounded us like cupped hands holding us up to look over the land. Two Golden Eagles circled each other in the sky before landing on rocks to continue their hunt from a different perspective.
We could not pass up spending the night here. It was only 5:45pm, but we quickly set out tent up and sat down in the grass to prepare dinner. A couple of hikers walked by squeezing in a couple more miles before dark. Mowgli stopped and joined us in the field. He was a South Carolina Native that had fished a lot of the same waters in Tennessee that we had. We told him about our day of fishing and showed him pictures of the fish we had caught. He was definitely envious of the rod and could not wait to get back home and fish. The sun started to set before us changing the sky from blue to a soft smear of purples and oranges. The stars started to pop to life, and we crawled into our sleeping bags.
Garbelly and Critter