And now for Colorado.
This state began and ended with cold and snow. The middle was filled with warmer temperatures and an overabundance of stunning scenery and flora that made it difficult to hike for the need to stop frequently to soak it in. My fear with this album is that it flogs viewers with endless mountain vistas to the point of indifference. That would be a shame, yet it may be inevitable. Even living immersed in these scenes, it is easy to let the rigmarole of day-to-day living distract from the beauty at your feet.
The Colorado miles were tough miles. The scenery was earned for sure. The altitude of the trail, which hovered around 12,000 feet for seemingly the entire state, and the extreme exposure that comes with living above treeline, is a gift and a curse. There is no place I’d rather be, but it wears you out. SpiceRack knows that better than I do, with her sickness from Wyoming chasing her across the state border into the rarified air of the Colorado Rockies. Dizzying vertigo leaving Eldora preceded a grueling day of bouncing around 13,000 feet between James Peak and Mount Flora. We were both whipped after that day. And it wouldn’t be the last time. Fortunately, a hospital visit in Denver gave SpiceRack what she needed to feel strong again, just in time to enjoy the most consistently amazing scenery of the CDT (in my opinion).
Until reaching New Mexico, I constantly worried about making it through Colorado before winter snows closed the CDT for the season. Although we did get kicked off the Divide by polar conditions in the final section, I would say that we nailed the timing. The days of golden aspen centered around Twin Lakes were worth the brain freeze on Mount Elbert. The 4°F morning along the Conejo River was a small price to pay for the endless stretches of solitude in the San Juans.
I am truly sorry for the bajillion pictures of golden aspen. I do not possess the courage to trim this album any further. 193 photos is a lot, but of course it is not nearly enough to do these 37 days justice. The heights, the horizons, the thin air, the wind, and the company. The CDT in Colorado gives so much for those willing to go see it. It is easier than you think. I promise.
Mile 1,443 to 2,050
Day 82 to 119
Steamboat Springs, CO to Chama, NM
The same thing I said of the Wyoming album applies to this one as well. It’s best enjoyed with pizza. Bonus: Add a double order of garlic knots if you want to know what SpiceRack and I experienced in Breckenridge and Pagosa Springs.