Friday, September 14, 2018

Day 147- Victory Tour, The Official End

Monday September 10, 2018
Side of CO Hwy 14(1451) to Rabbit Ears TH(1466) 
15 Miles 
Total Miles: 2,806
Elevation: 9,556 ft


Sleeping fifty yards away from a busy highway is never fun. Luckily, the traffic calmed down by the time I was done writing my blog and I was able to get to sleep. I woke up several times throughout the night. Since I was cowboy camping I took the opportunity to gaze at the stars and the Milky Way. It was such a clear night and I will miss sleeping under the stars, although I will not miss being cold all the time. With this being my last morning on trail I made sure to get up before sunrise. I took the time to make hot coffee and watch the sun rise above the mountains. I was not disappointed. The sky looked like it was on fire. 

Last sunrise of my hike

I was not terribly excited about hiking my remaining miles. I had to walk on two busy paved highways. It did however feel like a fitting end to this trail and at least I would make good time. As I left camp for the final time I had almost all of my layers on. I immediately began my 9.5 mile walk on CO Highway 14. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a decent sized shoulder for me to walk along. The traffic was pretty mild and the scenery was very lackluster. I made the best of the situation and put on some Disney music. Everything seems right in the world when jamming out to the Lion King, Alladin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid. Most of the drivers that passed moved away from the shoulder and gave me a wave on their way by. I was grateful when it began to warm up and I could finally take some layers off. 

Nine and a half miles of pavement

I was able to keep up a 3.8 mph pace on the nicely graded road. With the cooler temperatures I did not drink much water, which was a good thing. All of the water sources along my route did not look appealing. Between the cows pooping in the water and the run off from the road all of the water I passed by was brown and oily. By ten o’clock I had knocked out the nine and a half miles of CO Highway 14. I took a break next to a pull off at the intersection of CO Highway 14 and Highway 40. I ate a quick snack before I continued on. The problem with walking along a busy highway is that there is nowhere to stop and pee. 

More signs of autumn 

The hike along CO Highway 40 was quick and rather painless. I spent about four miles quickly walking along the shoulder. I kept my eyes open for a secluded spot where I could stop and pee, but I was out of luck. The growing pressure in my bladder helped me to pick up the pace. As I speed walked along the highway the enormity of what I was about to accomplish really began to hit home. I thought of all of the things I have seen and the people I had met. This trail challenged me in new and unexpected ways. Before I began this trail I thought I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into, after all I was an experienced thruhiker. The biggest surprise of this trail was how cold it was. I really never felt like I had a summer. There were some hot days, but the nights and early mornings were almost always cold. My second surprise was the sheer number of cows that I encountered. The Continental Divide has been overrun by cattle. It is a good thing that cows taste so delicious. They really are dumb, gross animals. There were very few days that I did not encounter a herd of cattle. 

Typical sight along the trail 

After four miles on CO Highway 40 I finally turned onto a dirt road that went into the forest. At last I could relieve my bladder. From my vantage point I could see Rabbit Ears Peak. It was nice to finally see from the road instead of a car. Last time I came this way I was skipping 100 miles of trail. This time I was completing the CDT and earning my Triple Crown. I could see the pass all day long, but as I turned off of the highway I had the perfect view of why it was named Rabbit Ears. 

Rabbit Ears Peak

After I stopped to pee I only had two miles to go before I completed my footsteps. My dirt road turned to gravel before turning into a paved road. I chatted other a hunter and a SoBo thruhiker for a short period. I really just wanted to finish so I kept the conversations short. After finishing I still had to make my way to Steamboat Springs. From there I had to figure out a way to get home. You would think that I would have figured that out ahead of time, but over the course of my long distance hiking career I have learned not to sweat these kinds of details. In the end everything always works itself out. Somewhere along my hike today I hit 2,800 miles. When I came along a leg of an elk or a deer I decided to use that in my mile marker. I have used cow poop, rocks, sticks, pine cones, and bones, but I never used pieces of a fresh corpse. It seemed fitting given all of the hunters I have passed in the last few days. 

Lower leg of an elk or deer

2,800 miles! 

As I approached the trailhead for Rabbit Ears Pass, my final destination, I passed by a beautiful groove of aspens. They had all of the autumn colors on full display. I snapped a quick picture and made my way to the monument. I was happy that my final destination had a monument of sorts. 

I hiked through spring, summer, and the beginning of fall

Ending at Rabbit Ears Trailhead was only slightly more anticlimactic than ending in a parking lot in Montana. I touched the monument and sat down. The full weight of my accomplishment had finally caught up to me. I’m not much of a crier and no tears were shed, but I was a little emotional. A car stopped to view the monument and I asked the driver to take my picture. I had to explain why it was such a big deal to be standing there. As always the driver and his wife were shocked to hear that anyone could hike that kind of distance. 

5 states, 3 National Parks, 2,806 miles hiked

Triple Crown

Awesome shirt that my parents had made for me

When I was hiking with Straws and PiƱata we frequently spoke of having hot toddies at the border in Canada. Since the weather was bad that day we did not make any. In honor of them I took the time to whip up a hot toddy. I stayed at the trailhead for almost an hour, savoring my accomplishment. Finally I decided it was time to go. I still had to hitch into Steamboat Springs. I planned on spending the night in town and then getting a rental car to drive home the next day. I had to walk about a mile to get back to Highway 40. I got a ride really quickly. A nice older guy with a giant German Shepherd stopped. He put the dog in the bed of his truck and secured her with a leash. The ride into Steamboat seemed to take forever. Stuart, my driver, was easy to talk to. He offered to let me spend the night as his house, but that didn’t seem like a good idea. I had him drop me off in the center of town. There was a burrito joint next to where I was dropped off. As I ate lunch I began to come up with a plan on how to get back to Telluride. A hotel for the night was going to set me back $150. I decided to rent a car that day and drive home. I have a new place to live in the town of Telluride so I called my new Tommy and told her to expect me that evening. I called for an Uber to drive me to the airport located 30 miles away in the town of Hayden, CO. I reserved a car for the day and before I knew it I was on the road. Driving back to Telluride was a startling change to my reality. I’m used to living life at 3 mph, not 75 mph. By the time I made it to my new home it was close to ten o’clock. The first thing I did was take a shower in my new home. All of my belongings were still in storage, which made it hard to settle in. 

New home

View from my deck

28 pounds lighter

Over the course of the next few weeks I plan on putting new content on the blog. I will do an in depth review of this hike, add some gear reviews, and as I sort through my pictures I’ll add a slideshow. Check back for new content. To everyone that has loyally followed along on this journey, thank you. If it wasn’t for you I’m not sure I would have kept up with a daily blog. Knowing that I have such loyal followers made it easier to continue on. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. Just because I’ve finished my Triple Crown doesn’t mean that this is the end. I have several ideas of trails that I would like to hike in the future. 

Do or do not, there is no try- Master Yoda

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."
—Earl Nightingale