CDT Day 92: Williams Fork to Buffalo Basin – Weight is Lifted Camp to Chipotle Belly Camp
Miles hiked: 19
Total miles: 1621.4
Good vibes continued today with some sweet views, amazing fall colors, and a surprise burrito. Colorado felt like a gift today, not a chore. The difference a day can make is astounding.
The morning hiking was cool, and downright freezing at the bottom of a valley before a big climb warmed us up. The switchbacks started with a friendly grade, but slowly steepened until the trail disappeared altogether near the top. Following the red line on our navigation app deposited us safely on Ptarmigan (pronounced P-targimandjjsjsodj) Pass at 11,781ft.
But that wasn’t even the top of the climb somehow. We sat down for some amazing views of Dillon Reservoir and the Ten Mile Range, then followed a long traverse to some other high point. From there we began a huge descent to the city of Silverthorne, a patchwork of strip malls and boulevards surrounded by a yellow and green tie-dye of transitioning aspen.
We were soon in the gold, stopping frequently to gaze up and around at more aspen than I have ever seen before in one place. Seriously nuts. Dayhikers were out in force too and Spice and I were pushed to the limit of our politeness with every suggestion of a different, more beautiful route that we could take or warning of impending snow that should have already fallen. These Colorado folk are friendly, but have no idea how tired we are of hearing their expert opinions. Oh that sounds nice, but we know where we are going. Oh really, does Colorado have a snowy winter? I feel like an asshole for just thinking in such a patronizing tone, but I can’t help it anymore. Spice and I decided not to tell one more person from here on out that we’re hiking the CDT. Just out for a day hike!
I knew we were getting hungry when Spice made me chew on a yellow leaf to taste the season. Fortunately, Silverthorne is home to a Chipotle, smack dab on trail. Burrito carnage ensued. Two hours after entering, we left town, crossing a river, then following a road to a trailhead above Lowe’s.
The people were gone by now, but the colors remained. Spice asked be some deep questions as we climbed along a roaring creak just north of Buffalo Mountain. We found a clearing just in time to catch the alpenglow on a distant ridge then got confused by a swath of trees broken in half. After darkness fell, it took longer than desired to find a spot flat enough to camp on, but we ended up tackling most of the morning’s climb. Burrito in my belly, stars overhead, Spice snuggled next to me. What else am I grateful for? zzzzzzzzzzzzzz