High Point

Day 6 - Segment 23/22

25.1 Miles 4,477ft Elevation Gain  

 

I set up my tent in the shadow of a mountain, so I didn't have the luxury of being warmed by the morning sun when I got out.  

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In the morning the sky was cloudless. I was unprepaired for such beautiful weather. I tipped my hat low to shield my face. At high elevations the sun has a special way of spanking your skin. 

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Meh.  

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I hiked at high elevation all day. The views were breathtaking. Pictures don't really do it justice. 

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The clouds built up all morning and brought on and off relief from the sun. What a major difference the sun makes. It was shining when I got to the high point. I was hot. I took my shirt off and celebrated. Then shortly after the sky closed up and it was time to put on some layers. 

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I hiked out with a cold one just for this occasion. Best part was... it actually stayed cold. 

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Its all down hill from here.  

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You might be able to see a cyclist pushing his bike uphill in the middle of this photo. He was not a happy camper. 

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After a good high point celebration I was in a great mood and flew down the trail. I was jamming out to some good tunes and enjoying the views. 

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Its a rather barren moonscape up here.   

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This tree was the largest plant I saw in hours. 

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The views all around are a bit more interesting. 

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Selfie to check on degree of sun spankage.  

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I guess slumgullion is a made up name that describes something that's a mixture of everything... like a clean out the fridge soup. Which sounds pretty good about now. 

Slow and Steady

Day 5 - Segment 24

24.7mi 6,415ft Elevation Gain

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I knew my day was going to start with a big dissent followed by a huge ascent.

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I steeply switched back and forth on my way down to the Animas River. The views were spectacular.

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At the bottom, I crossed over the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad tracks into the Weminuche Wilderness.

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I climbed steeply all morning roughly following Elk Creek.

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Just before the top of the climb there were several small hard rock mines and this dilapidated old cabin.

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At the top of the climb the Colorado Trail meets up with the continental divide trail. They'll share some miles through the San Juans. I thought it was funny that here there were two treads worn into the mountaintop. The left is CT, right CDT. 

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Once I got up to 12,000 feet the evening thunder clouds rolled in. They held out for a while. I could see storms in the distance.

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On my way down I was treated to some side ways hail! 

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I like to photograph these things .

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The division of reclamation, mining, and safety...  that's a new one for me. 

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The sky cleared up. I continued trucking into the evening. I set up camp by a small alpine lake at 12,000 feet.  

Silverton Stop

Day 4 - Segment 25

15.1 Miles 2,229ft Elevation Gain  

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I ate Miles for breakfast. I climbed up and out gaining a couple thousand feet first thing in the morning. The rest of the day was pretty much downhill. I cruised quickly to get to Silverton for a cold one.

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On the way down to Molas pass I ran—rather runners ran past me. One of them was a sponsored athlete, total trail running celebrity! Beasts

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I got to the road and I didn't have to wait or stick out my thumb. The first car to pull out of the scenic overlook rolled down their window and asked if I needed a ride to Silverton. Sydney had just finished a summer developing trail for the CDT, and was on her way to Gunnison to find some guide work. She dropped me off on the edge of town.

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I walked into town and first thing I did was go to the brewery. I ordered a cold one and a giant salad. Green things!

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I picked up my resupply package from a local outfitter then hung out in the coffee shop. There I saw Stacey, a fellow Tucson trail Runner. Small world! He was in town getting acclimated to the elevation in preparation for a marathon race up here this coming weekend. We both mooched Wi-Fi and took care of Internet.

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Before heading out I needed one last real food meal and one last cold one. I chose this fine establishment. The bartender was a young buck who attempted the CDT, got brutalized, then ended up there after a series of fortunate events.

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At the bar, I also met a couple from Wales who are also hiking the Colorado Trail northbound. We talked about politics, mountain bike, the Pyrenees mountains, and Scandinavian hikes.

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I made it out just before dusk and a very kind architect from Durango drove me back up to the pass on his way home from Telluride.

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I hiked in a mile found this ace camp spot and enjoyed the show.

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Very full day. I slept without my rain fly and drifted off under the star filled sky

Grey's Okay

Day 3 - Segment 27/26/25

21.5 Miles 3,421ft Elevation Gain

It was overcast all day. I was cruising up in the clouds. I welcomed the cool weather.  

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Most of the day was above tree line and I was thankful that I wasn't being spanked by the high elevation sun.  

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I had one small pass. Then most of the day was 'downhill'... in my head this whole trail is downhill to Denver.  

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It would be. If there weren't so many mountains in the way.  

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No complaints.  

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Each little river carries the minerals of the area. The locals say they can tell where it rained by what color the Animas River turns. This little river looked like a bleached white line in a sea of green. 

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I set up camp by a raging waterfall. At 9,000 some-odd feet it was as low as the trail was going to get that day. They say "climb high, sleep low." I think this is pretty sage advice while your body acclimatizes. 

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My tent sat on top of a rock. The river thundered below.  

 

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I slept well knowing that I had a hearty climb in the morning (between the peaks in the picture above.) I also knew that if I hiked fast enough I could be on Silverton with a cold brew in my hand by days end.  

Cruising Altitude

Day 2  - Segment 28/27

23.2Miles 4,975ft Elevation Gain

It was a beautiful morning and I pushed a couple thousand feet up to Taylor lake. 

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I was sitting by a beautiful alpine lake and fresh flowing water when a British man came by and let me know this was the last reliable water for the next 22 miles.  

 

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I cameled up. Drank a liter and hauled out the rest. The dry section was a beautiful ridge walk. 

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So far I had only experienced sun showers. The people on their way into Durango looked as if they hadn't faired as well. This is monsoon season and afternoon showers shouldn't surprise anyone. However, they told stories of being rained on for days. Needless to say they were excited to almost be done. 

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My shoulders were sore— not used to hauling around a pack. The views distracted me from the heavy load. My legs were feeling strong and I pushed myself til I found a perfect sunset spot to set up my tent. 

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MFW: Sunset  

 

Up and Out

 

Day 1 - Segment 28

15.1 Miles 3,814ft Elevation Gain 

After finding a good breakfast joint to have my 'last meal' — a potato breakfast burrito, it was time to hit the trail. A few cups of joe and one last stroll up and down historic Durango later we drove up to the trailhead. 

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Jen, or double 'N' Jenn, as I like to say, dropped me off. She also snapped this before shot. Thanks Jen! Starting off a trail clean cut is a tradition, however, I kept the mustache this time. It says, I'm half city, half wild. 

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I'm going to have to remember this number. What's the point of walking 480 miles if you don't earn a certificate?  

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The Colorado trail runs from Denver to Durango. Most people go southbound and finish in Durango. I'm going northbound. Against the grain. I congratulated many Southbounders on my way up and out of Durango. 

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I think most people avoid going north because the 4,000+ ft climb out of Durango is unforgiving for the unprepared:  

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The climb didn't hurt too bad. I think those hikes up Mt. Lemmon prepared my legs. 

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I walked from the high desert up to the high alpine. The landscapes features changed every thousand feet. The diversity was welcome. I'll be cruising at 10,000 feet for the majority of this trek. 

Chugga Chugga

Drove into Durango at sunrise to catch the narrow gauge train up to Silverton. I figured that would be a fun and scenic way to drop off a resupply package. Also an easy way to get up to elevation. 

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Great type adorned the side of each car. 

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Charming. 

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We were in a car with a historic tour guide. His beard was as good as his facts. 

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Nothing to see here.  

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Cruising Up

Long Haul trucked it up to Durango.  

 

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First drove to the petrified forest.  

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But got distracted by dinosaurs.  

 

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Lots of Route 66 Oddities on the way.  

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Teepees  

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Dinosaurs  

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Wigwams

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Holbrook  

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Canyon De Chelly.  

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White House Ruins.  

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Finally made it to Beige and Grey Colorado.  

Stax O' Snax

This isn't my first trip to the rodeo. I'm getting pretty good at preparing food resupply boxes . 

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Its hard to live off just Clif Bars. Variety is the name of the game. Salty snacks to compliment the overly sweet bars: Pretzels, pita chips, crackers, nuts, granola, asian and southwest trail mix.  

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No gelatin. I crave the high fructose corn syrup when I'm hiking. HFCS!

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Labeled and ready to ship. I got all the beta I needed from the Colorado trail data book.  

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Keeping with tradition, I gave my mug a trim. I have a chin! I kept the mustache this time —channeling my inner Teddy Roosevelt / Park Ranger. 

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I'm ready. Durango to Denver. Only 490ish miles... "just a day hike."