CDT Day 96 — September 29
Copper Mountain to North Sheep Mountain
Bros Haus Camp to Colorado Cruising Camp
Miles hiked: 13.2
Total miles: 1648
Hey, we’re hikers again! Back on trail after over two days of rest, I felt great, but it was SpiceRack who impressed me today. We hiked strong into the night, initial results of the gut bomb looking good. With better health potentially on our side and cool mountains coming up, I’m excited for the next piece of Colorado that I’ve had time to think about.
One last attempt at snoozing didn’t go so great. I was up at 7:30am, restless, feeling the need to be productive in some way. The others were up around 9am and I was swept away by a wave of hunger to Pete’s Diner for breakfast.
Spice and I started piecing together our gear when we returned. Things were strewn in wider circles than usual after so much time off, but we wrangled it all. Spice has a new quilt, in a gastly yellow color, to replace the one that was stolen in South Pass City. Looks bad, looks warm. Almost all of our resupply box food is being left behind. There are a lot of towns in Colorado and we don’t need five pounds of beans and a million bars like we thought we would. Good snacking for my brother.
We loaded into the car around 1:45pm for the drive back to Copper Mountain. Carley Rae Jepson pumped through the speakers as my bro and I soaked up the last of each other’s company for a while. At 3:45pm we were hiking again from the bus stop, through the resort golf course below ski lifts. My brother joined us for a short while, hoping to make the drive at least a little bit worth it before sitting in brutal traffic on the way home. He turned around after a final round of goodbyes, then it was just me and Spice again, and a bunch of mountain bikers.
We were now on a section of CDT that overlaps the Colorado Trail. This means that for the next few hundred miles, we get smooth tread, friendly switchbacks, and great trail markings. We cruised uphill through forest, along a creek around the backside of Copper. And then, what? Rooster and Crunchberry coming down the trail in the opposite direction. They were slack packing this section backwards from Leadville. We got reacquainted after not having seen them since Steamboat, hearing about some intriguing trail drama they witnessed along the way. With plans to see them back in Leadville tomorrow, we parted again. More hiking, less not-hiking.
We somehow resisted the urge to sleep in a ski cabin, and pushed into the night and windy world above treeline. Crazy cold wind almost knocked me down as I crested Searle Pass (12,044ft). I threw on a few layers, then Spice was right beside me, feeling strong. Six more miles until treeline and any hope of a warm, peaceful sleep.
The walking was smooth from there even in the dark, across a wide grassy shelf. Or at least that’s what it felt like. I couldn’t actually see it. As we rounded Elk Ridge, the wind got way worse and maybe even blew a couple of snowflakes in my face. Fortunately, it was a short drop to Kokomo Pass (12,024ft), then a big drop into the trees.
We found good camping along a creek, out of the wind, but still cold. Though it was 9:30pm, we were still feeling good and could have hiked more, but for the sake of tomorrow, we spread out our stuff to sleep. An encouraging finish to the day and return to the trail. I’m stoked for Spice who seems to be feeling way better already. Awesome to see. She deserves it.