It was time....Colorado was calling, again.
Last year my buddy Jacob and I set off on our Colorado Trail adventure...hiking from Waterton Canyon just outside Denver, to Highway 9 in Breckendrige. This year we picked back up at Breck, and headed southwest, covering 163 miles in 10 days. The heavy snow this past winter added some interesting challenges, but we navigated our way through and had a fantastic mountain adventure.
Here we go...
Day one had us up early and headed out of Breckenridge at Gold Hill Trailhead (Hwy 9). The trail would take us up and over the Ten-Mile Range and along the back side of the Breckenridge Ski Resort.
Cruising through the wildfire scar from a few years ago.
Headed up the ridge. Due to record snowfalls this year, the snowpack lingered far into the summer. This was just the first of many areas where the trail disappeared into the white abyss. Thankfully most of the navigation was relatively smooth.
Jacob crushing the snow-covered uphill.
A snow cornice hanging off the top of the ridge. At least I think it’s called a cornice. I’m from Oklahoma, so I’m going with cornice. We don’t have a lot of cornices here. I think it’s a cornice. It was a cool cornice.
Can you spot the marmot?
It was cool to see the Breckinridge Ski Area boundary. The summer changes the perspective of the mountains in such an awesome manner.
A quick lunch overlooking Cooper Mountain.
Headed down the backside towards Cooper Mountain. Afternoon thunderstorms were rolling in so we absolutely began the downhill hustle. Very little rain hit though, it was mostly behind the next ridge. There was some light sleet as well.
Camp set up after 19.2 miles.
Hanging out enjoying our fantastic dinner. At Copper Mountain, we snuck over to the gas station and, like good little hikers, picked up a couple tallboy Voodoo Ranger IPA’s. Dinner was cold-soak this year....no stove at all. It worked very well and I looked forward to dinner each night! Couscous, refried beans, tortilla soup mix, and powdered cheddar. It was similar to a cheese enchilada, and tasted great.
The absolute best gear purchase I’ve made in the past few years is this Hummingbird Hammock. It’s 5.2 ounces, and the straps are a mere 1.2. The ability to get pressure off my feet at the end of the day (and often during lunch) made a tremendous difference in endurance. I highly recommend this Colorado-based company.
A clear Colorado sunrise on day two.
Moving into the sunshine. We would continue up the valley towards the pass...and the snow.
Top of Searle Pass - 12,034ft. The views were tremendous.
Made a friend for us to talk to!
Looking back as we descended Searle Pass.
The snow was mostly stable, with the occasional surprise posthole. The fun part was that when you got surprised...it was generally a big one. You can’t see my right leg, but it’s buried. Obviously my hiking pole went deep as well. Wet feet and fun times!
Cruising the ridgeline.
A short time later and we were on Kokomo Pass at 12,027 feet.
Coming into Camp Hale. This historic site from the 1940s was a training camp for the US Army and spawned the infamous 10th Mountain Division. The hut system in Colorado is named for these alpine-trained soldiers. Camp Hale mostly consists of this long from of bunkers. Apparently there are mines buried in the area too, so wandering off trail isn’t advised.
We tucked into the trees at the edge of the valley and waited for the rain. Thought it was only a 12.9 mile day, we were pooped after crossing two passes and navigating more snow. It was nice to crash early.
Camping behind the explosives sign! Safety third.
Stay tuned for day three and beyond!