8/21/19 – The CDT through hikers were up and nearly gone by the time we crawled out of our tents. We had breakfast and packed up for a long day of hiking. We weren’t the last to hit the trail though; as there were 2 ladies camped at the edge of the meadow who were still there when we left.
The trail ascended above timberline briefly, gaining about 300’ in the distance of a mile. We then descended again into the trees and hiked an additional 3 miles to the end of Segment 15 at Marshall Pass (10,820′).
Ready to Hit the Trail
Morning Hike Above Timberline
Segment #16: 15.2 miles – 3,184′ elevation gain, 2,405′ elevation loss
After replenishing our water supply from the nearby creek, we embarked on Segment 16. Marshall Pass was crossed by the railroad (Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad) in 1881. The rails are long gone, but we did see remnants of a water tank the served the railroad and we followed the rail bed for a short distance as we continued our hike.
Railroad Tank Platform
Hiking the Railroad Grade
Water sources through Segments 16 and 17 are few and far between, even in a wet year like we’ve had. We would need to get to Tank Seven Creek, 11.6 miles further on, for the next reliable water source. The first 5.5 miles were generally trending uphill with several smaller ups and downs along the way. We then descended steeply down for 2 miles. The trail during the descent was strewn with rocks, making the footing tenuous at best. There’s nothing like walking downhill on ball bearings carrying 30 extra pounds. As it turned out, 3 of the 5 of us ended up on the ground at some point during the day, after losing our footing.
Challenging Rocky Trail
I’m always fascinated by the strange shapes of the trees we encounter along the way. We passed through an area on the trail where nearly every tree had a very unique shape.
Funny Shaped Trees
After hiking 15.6 miles, we arrived at our destination for the night. Upon arrival at Tank Seven Creek (10,350′), all of the campsites appeared to be occupied by many of the same folks we saw the previous night. Given the limited number of water sources on this portion of the trail, everyone seems to congregate at the same campsites along the way. We searched up and down the length of the creek and finally located a good spot away from most of the other campers and with a close access to the creek. Just as we were settling in, a group of 13 teens from the Denver Expeditionary Academy (and 2 adults) came and camped right next to us. Surprisingly, we didn’t hear a peep from them all night long. We had a nice fire and Turkey with Dressing Dinner from Mountain Home (dehydrated).