CO 9/Breckenridge(1087.6)-Below Radical Hill(1113.7)
Campsite Elevation: 12,456ft
Today was a butt kicker! There was a lot of elevation to get up pver 12,000ft and this leg, known as the Grays-Torreys, will keep us pretty high. Mtn Rat and I are currently camped at my highest campsite yet at 12,456ft and we will be going over 13,000ft and 14,000ft multiple times tomorrow. The rest of the group stayed in town for a zero because Breckenridge is Stryder’s hometown and they were having a BBQ. Scott, who hosted me last night, was kind enough to take me to the trailhead this morning and also pick up Mtn Rat so we could hike out together. Mtn Rat and I have similar paces, but he tends to hike longer days by 2-3hrs, so he often hikes 30s. I’m in the mood to do bigger days this leg, so it looks like it’s going to work out. Mtn Rat is canadian and has a great accent. He refers to people doing miles as “motoring,” so we were motoring today! I made a mistake with my mileage on this leg because the chart I’m using from a friend who did the trail last year said 80mi to Grand Lake when it is 133mi with the route I’m taking. I didn’t know this until Mtn Rat pointed it out to me once we started. I am fortunate that it will work out because I tend to bring extra food and we are going to try to do more miles so we will be out less days. I am short one dinner, but Mtn Rat has an extra. The other thing is that there is an option to hitch out after 80mi if I’m short on food…which I won’t be. One other thing that happened this morning is that I managed to leave my solar charger in Scott’s car. Yes, this is the second time I’ve done this with my solar charger and it is very frustrating! I’m fortunate that tomorrow evening, we plan to make it far enough to cross I-70 and Scott can bring it to me there. I’m so glad it will hopefully work out!
As for the hiking today, we kept a steady pace and were very happy to get 26mi in with so much elevation gain. We started off with a 2,000ft climb that then dropped 1,000ft, just to go back up 3,000ft and hit 12,999ft. It was a workout! But we are both enjoying the challenge and wanted to do at least 25mi today. The reason is that we need to be positioned to get over Grays (and possibly do a side trip to Torreys) tomorrow and they are both 14ers. Plus, the fact that I have less food than I thought, and that I could get my solar charger tomorrow if I make it to I-70 has me plenty motivated!
As for terrain today, we were in the forest most of the day winding up and down. Half of it has dead trees due to beetle kill and we heard it will only get more invasive as we move north.
In the afternoon, we hit the most awesome trail magic cooler ever, which was left where the CDT/CT split. It had sodas, tea, and wonderful bags of candy bars. I didn’t catch the name of who left it, but it was huge and everyone gets to sign the cooler with permanent marker.
Unfortunately, this is where the CDT diverged from the CT, so I just missed seeing Mama Bear and Monkey, darn! The rest of the crew will see them tomorrow as they will be overlapping. We saw a ton of CT hikers so the season for that is in full swing. Also, this was a popular mountain bike section for day bikers and we had to step off trail many times to let mountain bikers through. After the cooler, we got above tree line and were waking on the Divide again. It was high and we were fortunate that the weather was great.
It was great to hike with Mtn Rat and I think we both motivated each other. We are looking forward to doing Grays-Torreys tomorrow! Here is our campsite and the two mountains on the right I think are Grays and Torreys.
We are up high and it’s cold, but it’s super quiet and the little bushes do an amazing job of sheltering us. I’m very proud that I have finally learned to pitch this tent to be lower to the ground and shorter so there is less of a draft in situations like these. I’m toasty warm and hoping to sleep well as today was quite the workout!
An additional note, my roommate back in Portland made me brownies and sent them to Breckenridge, but I left before they arrived. The group was able to pick them up and enjoy them at the BBQ and said they were awesome! THANK YOU Mary! I’m sorry I missed out on the chocolatey goodness! Here are Drop-N-Roll and Ninja enjoying the brownies.