CDT Day 100: Sheep Gulch to Sawatch Range – Aspen Are Cool Camp to Tooty Frooty Camp
Miles hiked: 24.5
Total miles: 1725.7
Day 100!!! I sure don’t know what that means, if anything. Just another number on a hike full of numbers. More important than the number itself, today was a great day filled with great views, laughs, amazing weather, and good people. The mountains were kind today, and we had one of those classic days full of good walking. Here’s to 100 more like today!
The steep descent from Hope Pass continued this morning a little after 7am. Spice and I moved out a little before Crunchberry and a lot before Rooster who freaked out after missing his alarm. He’s usually the first awake, mixing packets for breakfast and doing who knows what, an hour before I wake up.
The valley and mountains ahead were still blanketed in deep shade from the eastern mountains, but then the aspen just ahead were set ablaze. The first sunlight of the morning was perfectly captured in the yellow leaves. The contrast between them and the shaded peaks was something a poet would write about. Slow walking again. The steep trail and morning beauty both demanded it.
It was cold near the valley floor when we turned west to walk that way for a while. Spice and I crossed some major avalanche paths, gnarly brews of broken wood and stone before stopping in our first patch of sun to apply sunscreen and thaw fingers.
Crunch caught us there, but then fell behind to scratch his butt or something. Spice and I turned up another valley to start a gradual ascent to the pass of the day, discussing diversity in the backcountry, specifically why it is so lacking. We saw more people of color at the BCM shindig in Denver than we’ve seen hiking along the CDT. More in two hours than in 100 days. Why?
Everyone took a break at a creek to eat a lot of things. I washed my socks too then got a move on to make it up the pass. A poop put me behind the group, but I was happy to hike alone, taking my time as the trees transitioned to red and green meadows while peaks filled the horizon. Huron Peak specifically dominated the view and my imagination. Lake Ann came and went, then I followed the others up the final ten switchbacks to the top. Lake Ann Pass, 12595ft.
The views were nuts from up there, and we discussed everyone’s animated movie character equivalent while snacking and viewing. North were all those cool peaks we walked between. South the mountains dropped away to a huge valley and big shining lake. On the distant horizon, perhaps the San Juans were visible. I wondered if the weather would allow us to see the magic hidden in that range.
The rest of the day was a cruise on that sweet Colorado Trail tread. Big switchbacks turned into gentle undulations through a warm forest around the feet of the mountains. I left lunch behind the others, so I turned on Gronk Ball and jammed down the trail as fast as my short legs would carry me. I missed Spice and wanted to see her again.
We all found her laying on a wide patch of grass under a large tree in a valley, at peace and confused as to why we took so long. One more valley walk followed, then a steep climb in the dark to camp in the trees next to a creek. Spice and I took it way back to the Alps, listing our favorite memories to make the night hiking move more quickly.
The whole crew is here. A great camp after a pretty darn good 100th day on the trail. Another cowboy camp setup with the clear weather and another packet of soy sauce ramen for dinner. There aren’t another 100 days left in this trail. I’m not sure I want there to be, but this 100 has been mostly good and brought me more than I could have expected. Good living on the CDT.