CDT Day 149 (CO – Leadville to Mon. Pass)

Momentum Past Monarch

  • CDT Miles: 1,078.9-1,072.7 & 1,071.1-1,057.7 (19.6)
  • FS 230 Alt.: 0.6 miles
  • Total Hiked: 2,545.4 miles
  • Elevation Range: 10,435-12,555

That was my morning walk up to Hancock Lake with a view of Chalk Creek Pass in the last pic. Or at least, the daylight part of the morning walk. Starting at 6:10am today, I had a good while in the dark it seemed.

The next picture/scene looking back at the lake fr above made me think of an image from the Walter Mitty movie for some reason. I was sure it must be the cover of the DVD that I was thinking of, but when I tried looking it up later, that wasn’t it. Closest thing I found was the soundtrack album cover. What do you think, any resemblance?

Nope. No resemblance. Guess I’ll have to watch the movie again for the umpteenth time to figure out what triggered that in my brain.

Turns out, there were two lakes up there…

I went up through old Chalk Creek Pass and looking through to the other side was a wow moment.

Then it was down to those ponds and then a ways further to the Middle Fork South Arkansas River.

It must have been chillier this morning because I had my first water freeze in the drinking hose. Froze pretty good actually and only when I stopped and swirled around the tube like a helicopter did the centripetal force launch the ice chunks out. Then, I was good to go and climbed right up to Boss Lake Reservoir where I took a little second breakfast break. It was very picturesque and pretty and a nice older couple arrived to fly fish when I was hanging.

The uphill trend continued. I was heading from the low point to the high point for the day over about 4 miles. There were some steep parts that had me wondering if my tiger blood (iron infusion) has final worn off, but really it wasn’t that bad. Or at least, it wasn’t worse than what seems to be the norm out here in Colorado.

Here’s Hunt Lake, a bit higher up than the Boss….

Up some more.

Then a few high-up ponds with some pretty blue color action.

Around 11:30am I got the worst of the climbing done upon reaching the Continental Divide. I took a break up there and had cell service, so got updated and all that.

Then it was a nice traverse/gentle climb up to the actual high point. Pretty off to my right.

From this point, it was some rolling hills eventually leading down to Monarch Pass and Highway 50. Pretty awesome stretch. Very open and exposed and went through the Monarch Ski Resort too. I took a quick lunch a bit out of the wind along the way, but otherwise pushed through.

Made it the Highway and Monarch Pass around 2:25pm.

So… I needed to resupply. The original plan was to hitchhike 20+ miles down to Salida, what I had heard was a lovely town. Something about the idea of going that distance and spending a night down there wasn’t sitting well with me though. I wanted to just keep moving while the weather was good. And ultimately that’s what I chose to do, for better or worse, I’ll find out.

There’s a small gift shop/snack bar/mini store at the Pass and after checking it out, I figured I could get creative and make it work! The store employees were very nice and they have a little corner for CDT hikers to charge battery packs and such and sign a log book. First thing I did was plug in, immediately followed by a Dr. Pepper purchase. While enjoying it’s 23 flavors, I set to organizing and taking inventory of what I had out in the parking lot. Finally, I got to shopping.

Afterwards, once repacked and such, I felt I got enough to make it to the next resupply. I needed stove fuel and didn’t get any and the store didn’t have many of the traditional hiker things like oatmeal, mashed potatoes tortillas, etc… so I had to go with some interesting options. They did have ramen noodles and I’ll be eating a good amount of those. Plus, I had a good amount left over from the last stretch to supplement with, so that helped big time.

Before taking off, I figured I’d better let my battery charge up a little longer, so hung out and got a couple hot dogs at the little “snack bar.” while hanging, I overheard the store guy at the counter telling another customer they’re open year round. They’re at 11,300 feet, so that’s impressive. Check out this bad boy though! Guess that’s how they do it:)

Boom, just like that, moving on! At 4:40pm, about 2.5 hours after my arrival, I took off on the trail again. Felt really good about this whole thing, other than I’m not 100% sure how the food supplies will hold up since it’s so different than my usual. Hope I have enough.

I loved the lighting and the fullness of the green tree cover over this area.

Thankfully nothing too strenuous for this last bit of the day. Gentle uphill and I figured it was all bonus anyways, not thinking I’d be hiking past the Pass today anyways. Was super pumped when I came across the cool creature…

A waddling porcupine! It was right on trail when I first spotted it. I’m discovering they might be some of my fav wildlife to see… them and Pikas and Ptarmigan (birds).

I started looking for tent spots early and wasn’t finding much. Luckily, just before going totally exposed for a few miles, I found a little spot… a bit slanted and rocky and too close to the trail, but protected between some trees, rocks, and bushes. Should suffice nicely.

Oh, and I may have packed out a half pound of homemade fudge from the store. Best decision of the trail! It was so good (took all my resistance not to eat in one sitting).

Felt good about today. The forecast looking forward didn’t seem ideal when I checked, but I still have little faith in these predictions and I’ve gotten lucky with some sunny days recently. Can only hope that continues. I did pickup some emergency hand warmers and there’s always bail out trails. Staying safe out here, that’s the key!

Album of the Day

“Way To Normal” – Ben Folds (2008)

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