We woke up late this morning. The sun had completely engulfed our tent in a very bright light. This meant it was already past 7:30 AM. In no rush, we began packing our things and casually heading up the trail. The sun was just a speck today in a deep blue sky.
As we began up the rest of our climb, we met a man from Boulder who we had seen going Southbound the night before. We began talking to him and found out he was doing a section of the Colorado Trail to train for his thru hike of the same trail later in the year.
As we kept talking, we began passing people. Very stylish people with nice cameras and clean gear. We talked to the first guy who said he was a part of the Fjällräven Classic and that their were around two hundred people behind him. We found out that the Classic was a three day, 35 mile hike from Montezuma to Copper Mountain. People that signed up for this hike would be surrounded by Fjällräven employees and Leave No Trace ambassadors assuring that the large group of hikers left a minimal impact on the trail along the way.
We passed most of the hikers as we were going downhill and they were climbing up against us. We stopped for each group of hikers and let them pass us since people going uphill have the right-a-way on single track trails. As we stopped, we met a lot of great people and saw some of the event organizers we had met heading in to Breckenridge. Going from seeing one or two people a day to seeing over two hundred was actually not a tough transition. Everyone we passed wore a large smile and was having a blast being outside on such a beautiful day. We even learned how to say good morning in Swedish (god morgon).
Finally we made it to water and split off from our new friend from Boulder. As we filtered, a Colorado Trail mountain biker went through and we briefly told him about the trail conditions he would face on Peak 6 and the Kokomo Pass area. After snacking really hard (Garbelly ate a whole bag of Cheez-its), we headed towards Georgia Pass and began looking for a good place to eat lunch.
We began hearing dogs howling all around us. Looking below to find what looked like a dog sled boarding area. We saw what seemed like seventy-five dogs under tarps and palettes. It was definitely a strange sight. We were not sure if it was legal or not to keep dogs in the conditions they were in, but we figured with as many hikers that pass by that it was not very hidden.
Just then Critter screamed and when Garbelly turned around, instead of being greeted by a large bloodthirsty heard of bears, he found a Charlie and Hannah. The Heavyweights had reunited once again! We immediately sat down by a creek and made lunch. Since Breckenridge, Garbelly began packing his trustworthy frying pan, so Critter made an extremely tasty cheese quesadilla for lunch. Just as we finished up lunch, dark clouds and a few rumbles rolled into view.
We got out the maps and looked for a lower alternate to the 13,000 foot ridge walk we had for the rest of the day. We found the perfect trail that would parallel the CDT. As the trail ended, we would scramble up a couple thousand feet to the trail. As soon as we started walking, the winds picked up and we felt a few drops of rain. It had been a good decision.
While most people think that our biggest threats out here are bear, mountain lions and banjo wielding locals, our biggest threat is being exposed in large storms. Yes, there is a large chance we could walk on a ridge line through storms unscathed. We would rather be cautious and not be the only positively charged objects on the top of a mountain. It pays to know the dangers of exposure. Even if it requires extra miles or skewing away from an original plan, it is always worth the extra time to stay safe.
After getting back up to the ridge, the clouds and winds swirled around us, yet were calming down. We looked on the ridge and noticed five large mountain goats running along a cliff line. If only we could move that fast out here, we would make it to Canada in a few weeks.
After making it to the ridge line, we sped hiked the next few miles through a small hail storm to camp. This camp was not just any camp. Tucked partially behind a rock face, we fell asleep at 12,300 feet with a view overlooking a large red cinder cone mountain. As the sun set we ate our dinners and watched a distant storm.
Cheers to magical campspots!
Garbelly & Critter