CDT Day 83: some ridge in the Rabbit Ears Range to Radial Mountain – Favorite Spot Camp to Up and Over Again Camp
Miles hiked: 26.5
Total miles: 1498
This one was tough, but worth it in every way. On trail, up high along ridges and over mountains, great weather, and an amazing sunset from the dream spot with a wonderful partner. I haven’t had so much fun hiking since the Winds. More please, Colorado.
I woke up naturally at 5:20am. So comfy, so warm. This camp spot did not disappoint and gifted me a salubrious night of rest and a view upon waking. I lay there, watching light gather on the horizon, then spread to the clouds above. A peaceful moment.
SpiceRack and I were hiking, back on the dirt road along the ridge at 6:30am under calm clouds. No wind. Warm despite the cold. I was struck by just how many mountains I could see. In every direction. Colorado has mountains. So many that I had no idea which ones we’ll be walking through.
We missed the turn off of the road, backtracked a quarter mile, then dropped down a dirt road turned single track to a creek and water break. Spice cooked up some peanut butter and Oreo tacos while we sat in the meadow trying to get a read on the day.
I felt strong on the 1,000ft climb to the next ridge, then chasing Spice along it, up and down over steep lumps. The hiking was tough, but a fun challenge that I really enjoyed. The views were great the whole way, which made the effort worth it and reminded me what hiking the CDT is really all about. I would crest a local hump then scan my gaze along the trail ahead to find a miniature Spice traversing and open slope a mile away. Several minutes later I’d be right there, and doing it all over again. Fun stuff.
We crossed a dirt road, then stopped for lunch at the last water for a while to recharge our legs in anticipation of the intimidating climb over Parkview Mountain. It did not disappoint. We walked around Haystack Mountain, then parkoured over some avalanche debris before switchbacking up to another ridge.
I thought the switchbacks were tough, but only until the final push to the summit. 1,100ft up in one mile. There were no switchbacks here. There was no trail, just a couple of posts needlessly marking the most direct route up. At least the evening wind was cool as I gasped for breath after each short burst of steps. But then I was there, Spice not far behind, on top at 12,300ft.
There was an old lookout shack where we hunkered to get out of the wind. Spice cooked some ramen, I ate a Clif bar or two. When we finally got our butts moving again 30 minutes later, sunset was in full swing, casting pinks and purples all around. A large cloud dumped rain on the town to the north and glowing virga surrounded us. Amazing. I wouldn’t have chosen a different time to be there.
The wind was relentless so I was forced to wear my puffy jacket for the sprint down the other side. But my smile was wide. I stopped on numerous occasions to spin around and appreciate just how wild and awesome this place was. Parkview stands alone, and I felt “out there.”
The sun bowed out for the evening as we approached treeline and we just managed to find the trail again before headlamps became a necessity. By the time we had made it four more miles to camp, I was dragging behind Spice and ready to drop. Maybe I should have had ramen on top too. I had ramen for dinner to make up for it. Cowboy camped, back in the trees. Grateful for our good timing and fun challenge in the mountains today.