The Day I Completed the Continental Divide Trail
- CDT Miles: 823-798.2 (24.8)
- Total Hiked!!!: 2,726.2 miles
- Elevation Range: 11,275-12,590
6:41am sunrise pic
My trek up the snowy slope was much more doable in the morning. I made it through the night pretty good. Turned over a lot to different sleep positions because of the cold and lumpiness, but it worked. And then once going, I was able to walk on top of the snow crust. It was perfect!
I was loving the scene this morning. It was a little after 7:00am when I finally got to the point where the trail went down. It was a cool stretch of trail where I curved into a valley and started cruising down it. The sun had just popped up at the same time too and covered the mountainside with a glow. Walking down the valley there was a ton of water with several small streams cascading down. Some frozen stream action going on too.
I was loving the morning, but knew my leisurely downhill had to end at some point. I actually missed the turn where I was supposed to split off to cross the Adams Fork Conejos River and then start up. Luckily, I’d checked the FarOut app randomly and hadn’t walked too far past the junction. Turns out a lot of other hikers missed this one too and had gone a ways the wrong way. It was easy to miss since not marked and the trail was really non-existent til on the other side of the river.
Crossing the “river” and looking back where I’d come from…
And starting my way up the other side, looking down…
I was a bit perplexed as to where I was heading since it all looked rather steep and tall. The trail ended up staying decently graded and traversing a long ways still “down valley” and sort of wrapped around the steepest stuff. At one point I happened to look up and spotted a herd of elk running across the high up snow field. I figured I must have spooked the.. It was wild. I wasn’t sure how they could full on sprint at such an angle and then I wasn’t sure where they went since like I said, it was super steep stuff getting over the top of the ridge.
The climb up actually went pretty great. I was feeling good and was pretty pumped up from the elk encounter. So once I reached sun and the ridge, I took a wonderful second breakfast break as a reward. Here’s looking back at the valley I’d come down and then climbed out of…
And my sit spot.
It turned out that I wasn’t actually at the top yet. Was pretty gradual getting up there though and just mir incredible stuff, so I wasn’t complaining. Went up to this pass…
And then down towards the left after going through…
I was starting my trek down and up the next valley.
Didn’t go all the way down there. Instead hugged and traversed the mountainside. That’s where all the streams I was crossing drained though. I was liking the cottonball-like remnants left on the bushes. Very Fall in my opinion…
Heres the bowl I was wrapping down and around and then up and out..
The linear chunk of rock up there caught my eye. Not human made, but looked like an old road it was so straight…
The icy frozen streams were also a hit today…
What goes down must go up on the CDT…
A few ponds once up above…
And then another down, around, up, and out valley. This one seemed very gradual and long. Took lunch by another frozen stream near the low point.
Up to this point I tried to keep out of my head that I might be finishing the trail today. This next stretch though, I knew it was in reach. It was quite surreal. The idea that it was happening just didn’t sink in. I kept trekking in my normal routine, but knew that moment was coming up!
Later on in the day I came across two hikers, Frisky and Chuckles! It was crazy to me that I saw 1 CDT hiker my whole time hiking through Colorado and on my last day I finally got the chance to chat and hike some with others. We walked up to the next high point and then did some leap frogging for a ways.
Saw another coyote up here.
There go Frisky and Chuckles ahead.
I stopped at the high point and had a snack. I had about 2 miles to go til unreached mile 798.2! A pretty random mile marker, but that’s where I camped the night before I bailed from the trail in late May. After a windy, snowy, cold night I got up and turned around to go out a side trail and back out to civilization. So that turnaround spot has been my goal for the past month!
It was getting late in the day (for me), but I really wanted to get there tonight and camp nearby. Felt that’d be fitting. So that’s what I went for. As I neared Trail Lake, I started to recognize the area somewhat. It had an oddly quite different feel to it from this perspective, but slowly I started to piece together mountains I had seen the first go around.
The last bit seemed like it was taking forever!
Even as I reached the mile marker, I still felt I had to search for my tent site. That’s at least what I told myself. I didn’t know how I’d react once I saw it. If I’d cry or laugh or yell in triumph? After a bit of searching, I found it! The old 6:25pm finish the CDT time! Woohoo!
Got to say, the emotional moment didn’t really hit me. It was sort of how it was on the PCT when I finished. Seemed that I was still 100% in hiker mode and was cold and it was getting dark and so my first priority was to find a spot to set up for the night! And mainly, I was just really tired after a long day and, I suppose a long long journey.
The reason I’d bailed from the trail here was partially due to the fact that it’s above 12,000 feet and a windy spot, not great for tenting, so I wanted to find another place that was blocked from the wind. Didn’t take me long. And I basically just got in and did my routine things. Ate inside again so as not to freeze. And figured the next morning I’d sleep in and do a better photo shoot and celebrate!
All that said… Wow wow wow! I finished the CDT y’all 🙂
Album of the Day
“Songs In The Key Of Life” by Stevie Wonder (1976)