We’ve seen several very unique trees as we’ve hiked along the Colorado Trail. I’m reminded as I see these unique and wonderfully made trees that each of us is made with unique characteristics and gifts.
Sometimes life can get in the way of us fully appreciating those gifts in ourselves. In difficult circumstances, we can begin to feel like we’re not worthy of living the life we’re meant to live…like we’re not “enough”. After a period of time, we can feel lost and alone. One of the classes in Love INC’s IMPACT program is “Purpose and Potential”. Through this class, participants who are experiencing a difficult time in their lives begin to realize that they are worthy, that they can live a better life. This can be the beginning of meaningful transformation in their lives.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14 NIV
Segment #6: 32.7 miles – 5,196′ elevation gain, 5,968′ elevation loss
This is the longest segment of the Colorado Trail and takes hikers from Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge. Glenn and I hiked the 32.7 mile segment over 3 days and 2 nights camping along the trail. We’ve hiked a total of 104 miles now, leaving 382 to go in the remaining 22 segments.
07/31/18 – Glenn and I met once again at the Egg and I for breakfast and then drove to our final destination in Breckenridge at the Gold Hill trailhead. We left a car there and then drove to Kenosha pass, via highway 9 to US 285. We’re really seeing a lot of Colorado that we’ve never seen…even in the car while driving to and from trail heads. We’re traveling on roads we’ve never used before, seeing sights we’ve never seen.
As we embarked on the trail at Kenosha Pass, we talked briefly with a group of 4 mountain bikers. They were also taking this part of the Colorado Trail, but would divert at Keystone, their final destination. We saw a lot of bikers on this segment…mostly near the beginning and the end, at Kenosha Pass and Breckenridge. Several were through-biking, planning to cover the entire 486 miles. One biker from Washington state said his plan was to average 50 miles a day and finish in 10 days. He and others found themselves walking their bikes up some of the steeper portions of the trail and then riding down the other side. The more fit mountain bikers seemed to be riding both up and downhill.
Panoramic View of South Park
Shortly after leaving Kenosha Pass, we had a great panoramic view of South Park as well as Georgia Pass and the Continental Divide, which we would reach later in the day. We also passed through another old stand of aspen trees, some open areas and mixed pine forest, before stopping at Deadman Creek for lunch. Along the way, we met Audrey, who is about our age and is solo hiking the Colorado Trail. Her original goal was to finish this season, but said she will probably do half this year and finish next year. Her husband had passed away 3 years ago. It sounded like they were avid hikers and that she was doing this almost as a tribute to his memory. Very inspirational! At mile 6, we stopped for water at Jefferson Creek. We wanted to fill up for the climb to Georgia Pass. While there, a young lady (Paige) also stopped for water. She was from Vermont and is solo hiking the CT. She was probably in her late 20’s or early 30’s. She was asking about severe weather possibilities and said she hadn’t been rained on yet, but had heard that storms can get violent in the mountains. We’ve been surprised at the number of solo through-hikers we’ve come across. We’d originally planned to camp at Jefferson Creek, but decided it was too early in the day, so we continued on. From there, we climbed from 10,000′ elevation to 11,900′ at Georgia Pass and the Continental Divide over a distance of about 6 miles. This was above timberline and the wind was blowing pretty good. At this point, the Colorado Trail and the Continental
Divide Trial join and are co-located for the next 314 miles. We continued beyond the summit until we found a campsite with some decent shelter. Camping at 11,800′ elevation is quite a bit cooler than camping at 10,000′. After our chicken and dumpling dinner, we bundled up and had a bit of a restless night.
“Sunshine on Our Shoulders” and Australians!
08/01/18 – We awoke to a chilly morning and had our coffee and oatmeal breakfast. As the sun came over the ridge and shined on our backs, we mused that John Denver may have been in a similar position when he wrote the song “Sunshine on My Shoulders”. I can say that it certainly made me happy to feel the sunshine on my shoulders that morning. The trail descended from our perch at 11,800′ to about 10,000′ over the next 7 miles. We stopped for lunch and water at the middle fork of the Swan River. We visited briefly with a young couple from Western Australia who were on bikes and had also stopped there. They were in the states on a 6 month visa and planned to bike the Colorado Trail and then do the Arizona Trail. From there we hiked another 3 miles and crossed the north fork of the Swan. We then climbed about 1,000′ over a 2 mile distance and traversed a ridge line from which we could see the Keystone ski area to our right. Through this area, we passed from the mixed fir and spruce forest into a primarily lodge pole pine forest. The area had seen quite an impact from the recent mountain pine beetle infestation that has killed millions of mature lodge pole pines throughout the Rocky Mountains. This area was thinned dramatically by the infestation, with many of the dead trees still standing. Most of the dead frees near the trail had been cut and laid alongside the trail. There were still many mature trees standing, however, and new trees were popping up throughout the area.
Camping in the Trees
After descending back down to 10,000′, we found a place to camp in the trees. After setting our tents set up, we noticed someone’s bear bag (food bag) was tied up in a tree right by Glenn’s tent…not a good place to have bear bait!! It turned out that the bag belonged to 2 young ladies who were camped on a nearby campsite. They graciously moved the bag to a more distant location. Glenn had been dealing with some pain caused by his IT bands during the day. It was good to sit down and relax following the 13.5 miles we’d traveled. We enjoyed our beef stroganoff dinner and both slept quite well!
08/02/18 – We awoke on the 3rd day and had our breakfast, broke camp and headed out for the final leg of this segment. We reached our final water stop at Horseshoe Gulch and celebrated crossing the 100 mile mark in our quest to hike the Colorado Trail. As we hiked on toward Breckenridge, we came across a large group (10-15) of mountain bikers from the Summit Biking Group. We stopped and talked with one of them and found out that they are a group of primarily seniors who do group rides periodically on the mountain trails around Summit County. We crossed several secondary trails as we approached Breckenridge. The view if Breckenridge from the ridge above was impressive. We could see the town and the ski area on the Ten Mile Range that we would cross on our next hike.
The final descent to Breckenridge was a series of switchbacks traversing a steep slope. At the bottom, we passed through a neighborhood and saw folks fishing in a pond and generally doing vacation types of things. We crossed over the highway and walked up a paved bike path to our car at the trailhead. After eating a light lunch, we loaded up and drove over Boreas Pass to US 285. I’d never been over that road. It’s a rough gravel road that travels over the route of the former railroad that used to go over the pass. Along the way, there was a water tank from the railroad and at the top, there was a small museum and a rail car next to the road. We didn’t stop, but I’d like to do that sometime. On the other side of the pass, we went through the town of Como. It apparently was a travel hub in the 1800’s. The old railroad roundhouse is still there. That’s on my list of stops to make at another time. We did stop at the Bucksnort Saloon for a burger and beer on the way home. It was awesome!!