Third 2019 Outing – August 20-23
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt”
This third CT outing for 2019 would include hiking Segments 15, 16 and 17, covering a total of 49.9 miles. The total elevation gain is 9,570 feet and the total elevation loss is 8,823 feet. We would also cross the 300 mile marker since the beginning of our hike last year. Due to limited water sources along much of the route, our plan is to accomplish this hike in 4 days, including travel time to and from the trail. It’s a challenging itinerary that includes several steep climbs, including a half mile climb gaining 668′ in elevation (one of the steepest grades on the Colorado Trail).
I usually try to include an inspirational story or quote when I write these summaries of our hiking adventures. This time, I’m compelled to include some writings by a very special lady, my mom, who passed away earlier this year. I hope you enjoy them:
He meets me in the morning in the chapel of my mind
To show me His exciting plan for which I was designed!
We chart my day, we chat and pray, my courage to renew
Then in that quiet solitude, we share a prayer for you!
You’ve heard about the man who sat down at dusk and waited to see where the sun went….it finally dawned on him!
A Mother’s Prayer
Keep my children safe today
Guide them as each goes his way
Keep them strong in spirit too
Teach them to rely on you
Help me, then, to do my part
To ease each doubt, to cheer each heart
Oh help me find a time each day
To send a loving prayer their way.
Writings by Betty Jean Burk Hertzler (1925 – 2019)
Segment #15: 14.3 miles – 3,576′ elevation gain, 1,608′ elevation loss
8/20/19 – My brother, Glenn, and I are joined once again by friends, Lance Willoughby, Bruce Houtchens and Mark Ely. Glenn, Bruce and I left Highlands Ranch at 6 am to meet Lance in Fairplay (he was coming from Keystone). We picked him up there and drove on to the trailhead where Mark (who lives in Salida) met us. Mark and his wife, Lesly, had staged a vehicle at the end of the hike, which saved us 3 hours this morning. Thanks Mark and Lesly!!
Segment 15 starts at Highway 50 near Poncha Springs (8,861′). The trail follows a dirt road for about 2.5 miles to the South Foose’s Creek Trailhead. From there, the trail travels up the South Foose’s Creek drainage in a steady climb to the Continental Divide (11,909’), yielding a net elevation gain of over 3,000’ for this 8.6 mile distance. The last half mile is one of the steepest grades on the CT, climbing 668′ in a half mile.
The trail during that climb was surrounded by very nice mixed pine forest. The most prominent feature, by far, along the route, was the abundance of wild flowers that filled the meadows and hillsides along the way.
Wild Flowers and Hummingbird Moth
Wild Flowers and Old Log
At the top, the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail merge once again and are co-located heading south. We had departed from the CDT route at Twin Lakes in Segment 11.
We followed the Monarch Crest, which includes the famed Monarch Crest bicycle route (rated one of the top 5 mountain bike rides in the country). We ran into several bikers and a couple of motorcycles, which are also allowed on this portion of the trail. As we met the motorcycles, they pulled off the trail and turned off their engines as we passed by….an unexpected, but appreciated courtesy. After hiking 10.3 miles, including that 3,000’ climb, we arrived to our camp for the night at the Green Creek shelter (11,500′).
Green Creek Shelter
After we set up our tents in the surrounding trees, Mark, Lance and I went to get water in Green Creek, which was about a 0.3 mile hike down the drainage. Upon returning, we were greeted by some other hikers who were looking for a place to camp. Soon others came along as well and by the end of the evening; over a dozen campers were in the vicinity of the shelter, with 2 sleeping in the shelter itself. We were also visited briefly by 2 deer that entered the nearby meadow and then retreated into the safety of the trees. We had a brief campfire, ate dinner (lasagna) and hit the sack by 8:30 (it was dark by then – hiker midnight).