Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Colorado Trail 2017: Segment 6 (July 17th-19th)

Bristlecone Pine and natural shelter

Approaching Georgia Pass

Georgia Pass

Reconnecting with the CDT

Lodgepole beetle kill: Massive piles of dead trees organized into piles near Breckenridge, CO.

Battle scarred beetle killed hillsides near Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge, CO

Delicious calzone ordered from the only dive bar in the town of Breckenridge

Moosie and I order a round of local micro brew in the town of Frisco while waiting out another afternoon thunderstorm and downpour.

After taking a bus around section 7 which was closed due to fire, Moosie and I fill up our water bottles in the locker room of Copper Mountain Ski resort before returning to the trail, beginning section 8.

Moosie and I began the morning of July 17th hitching up to Kenosha Pass to begin section 6 of the Colorado Trail. We were picked up by an older gentleman who happened to see us at the Fairplay coffee shop earlier in the morning. We were hiking by noon. By 1:00, our daily thunder storms and rain showers were upon us. By now, the trail brought us above 11,000 feet for the first time. I could feel shortness of breath mostly during climbs, bending over to take pictures of wildflowers, or trying to take gulps from my water bottle through the Sawyer filter. Overall, I didn't feel too affected by the elevation.

Also during this section, we reached the Continental Divide for the first time at Georgia Pass and reconnected with the Continental Divide Trail, thus beginning the maddening game of trying to remember where I was back in 2013. (Moosie and I both hiked the CDT in 2013) In fact, the "game" became so frustrating to me, I'm not sure I ever would want to hike a long distance trail for the second time. I could not turn the brain off, and it was frustrating how fleeting my memory was. Very little was how I remembered it to be. Also during this section, Moosie and I hiked through our first major area of beetle killed forest. Lodge pole forests have been devastated near and around Breckenridge for the last couple decades. Dead trees are everywhere which made camping a challenge. Section 7 was closed for a few months due to a fire that raged through the area this summer. One local resident said it was very scary, especially due to the fact that the area is a tinder box at the moment. Moosie and I walked through a couple hillsides where trees had been cut and gathered into massive piles outside of Breckenridge. There were dozens, maybe hundreds of piles. They try to burn them when the snows are high enough to prevent a huge wildfire.

Highlights during this section included reaching the Continental Divide where views became more majestic. We passed a few classic u shaped, glacially carved valleys. We passed a giant sled dog kennel where the hundreds of dogs gathered there sounded off in a group chorus of howls around lunchtime. Moosie commented that it sounded like a chorus of suffering souls in hell which I think was pretty accurate. We also saw our first northbound CDT thru hiker. He was sitting in some shrubs with a busted bleeding lip, stuffing his face with a doughnut. A true badass of the forest. We stopped in Breckenridge to resupply and eat some food and were out the same day. We also took a bus into Frisco to grab a beer and wait out a storm. The bus also took us to Copper Mountain ski resort which I can only explain as an oasis. I am a sucker for warmth, lights, and music. Copper Mountain had all three when I passed through on a cold fall night on the CDT in 2013 and when we passed through on the CT this July. Thank you Copper Mountain!

By evening on the 19th, Moosie and I were back on the trail beginning section 8...

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