Just like that we were awake and freezing. Clouds socked us in outside of our tent, but as we prepared for the day they slowly whisped away. We finished our climb up to Kokomo Pass and then along Elk Ridge. Fitting the name of the ridge, we saw a pack of Elk grazing on the ridge in the distance.
We followed the ridge crossing over a couple of iced over snow traverses which wrapped us around to a mountain framed bowl patched with snow and rushing streams. There were Ptarmigans with their salt and pepper feathers, pika, and of course, marmots. All their chirping and barking filled the air with a symphony of screeches. Once over Searle Pass, we began our descent down towards Copper Mountains Resort. The snow, still heavy in sections, began to soften under our shoes. We decided to head straight down towards a sliver of dry trail and a 10th Mountain Division Hut, Janet's Cabin, a 3,000 square foot cabin nestled in the pine forest below the pass. We hit dry trail and started switchbacking down.
As we hiked down, day hikers were hiking up. We stopped to talk to some of them and as we got closer to the resort, more and more people occupied the trail. Copper Mountain Resort came into view. We grabbed a quick bite, grilled cheese and mac and cheese, to eat and then headed towards our big climb up Peak 6. We could only take so much time in at ski resort and an hour was long enough. The steep prices and crowds of people motivated us to keep moving, first passing through a disc golf course and the backside of a regular golf course. Critter even had to quiet Garbelly in a golfer's backswing. Definitely not a situation Garbelly thought he would find himself in on a thru hike. We put our headphones in and resumed the crime and comedy podcasts we were listening to respectively.
We started our climb once we crossed the highway. The trail took us along a large switchback starting in the trees and leading us to the tree line then ridge line. We passed a handful of Colorado Trail hikers before reaching Peak 6. From the top, we could see Copper Mountain to one side and Breckenridge on our other side. Just as we reached the top of peak 6, three white mountain goats grazed near the trail but we zigzagged up and over before getting too close.
Snow waited patiently for us on the trail as we began to traverse down. Snow traverses led us into snow drift mounds among the trees. We shoe skied down until we found an area of blow downs with a perfect clear square for our camp. We set up, ate, and then tried to fall asleep even though excitement for the next day washed over us.
Garbelly & Critter
When Garbelly starts to look like the tent!