Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Day 73- A Tale of Two Climbs

Tuesday June 26, 2018
E Fork Eagle River(1203.4) to Miner Creek(1228.4)
25 Miles
Total Miles: 1300
Elevation: 10,556 feet

I slept pretty well last night. The night started off really warm. I woke up a little before midnight and couldn’t get right back to sleep. I ate a snickers bar and gazed at the stars. Within minutes I was asleep again. I only had 25 miles to hike again today, but they looked like hard miles so I didn’t allow myself to sleep in. I was camped next to a group campground last night. I took full advantage of the privy before hiking out. My knee was sore and swollen, but fully functional. My back was a different story. It was really tight and I was a little concerned about how I would hold up. I did what I always do when I have an injury, pop some vitamin I and ignore it. That strategy has served me well in the past. The first few miles of the day were really cold. Camp was located in a valley and next to a body of water. I had started off without my puffy in preparation of my first climb. I didn’t realize that it wouldn’t start for a few miles. I was hiking slowly to allow my back a chance to loosen up. I was rather chilly for the first thirty minutes. 

Cool looking clouds. I thought it looked like a dome

The story of today was that I had two really big climbs. One to start the day and another to end the day. Ever since leaving Lake City, each day has thrown more elevation change my way. I thought that my injuries would slow me down, but I knocked out the first climb in my usual fashion. It was a rather enjoyable hike. The early part was in the trees with the last little bit taking place above tree line. 

First nearly 3,000 foot climb

Last little push before the top

Baby, don’t you want to go... Kokomo Pass

The rest of the morning and afternoon I would slowly lose all of the elevation that I had just gained. The hike was spectacular though. I went up and down little hills and hiked next to a river as well. The down ended up being more challenging than usual. I had to watch every step because of my angry knee and my back felt every step. I was glad when the trail leveled out for awhile. I came across 16 SoBo Colorado Trail hikers today. I seem to be in the SoBo CT bubble. I also came across six people on mountain bikes. I was amazed to see what they were able to ride up. Some of the terrain was really steep, but they kept peddling away. I also ran into two trail maintainers, Dave and Bob. We chatted for a few minutes and Dave offered to pack out my trash. Score! I have been able to get rid of most of my trash everyday on this section. 

Dave and Bob

On my way down the pass

Wildflowers really going off

Mt Valhalla in the distance(such a cool mountain name)

Healthiest forest I’ve seen in a while 

A few miles before I was to begin my other giant climb, I began hiking around the Copper Mountain ski resort. From most of the mountain I could hear and see Interstate 70. I much prefer the solitude of my home mountain, Telluride. I do enjoy hiking on ski mountains though. 

Chairlift. Big mountain range in the background is my other climb for the day

The closer I got to the base of Cooper Mountain the more it dawned on me that I might be able to get lunch there. Unlike Monarch Crest, this resort looked like it was still open for the summer. I asked a passing CT hiker if they had gone down the mountain and gotten food. Her response almost made me do something violent. She rudely told me that she wasn’t out here for food and town stops. She came out to enjoy the mountains. I simply responded with, “let me know how that works out for you after 1,300 miles of hiking. Oh, yeah you are only hiking 450 miles. Have a good hike.” I think I came out the winner of that verbal exchange. As it turned out the trail went right by the resort. I walked less than three tenths of a mile to get a burger and a beer. I think this is the first time in 1,300 miles that I have gotten lunch on trail! 

Quick lunch break

Stopping at Copper Mountain Ski Resort for lunch only set me back an hour. Although once I started climbing a giant mountain I slightly regretted my decision. I should have given myself some time to digest that burger. To say my stomach was upset would be a massive understatement. Today was also the hottest day I’ve had since I’ve been back in Colorado. It took me slightly longer than forever to climb that damn mountain. 

Climb #2 

After leaving the resort I hiked around their golf course. I wouldn’t like to play there. Interstate 70 seemed to surround most of the course. Our golf course in Telluride has amazing views and very few roads. 

Yellow tee box at Copper Mt

Copper Mt. Resort

It took me almost three hours to hike up the mountain. That might be the slowest I’ve ever gone uphill. Eventually I made it to the top and I could see the Breckinridge Ski Resort. The front range of Colorado definitely isn’t lacking for ski resorts. By the time I started down the mountain my knee and back were very stiff and sore. I made sure to watch every step so as to not hurt my knee again. There was nothing I could do about my back except to take my time. About halfway down I hit a really large snowfield, but with some creative route finding I was able to avoid walking in it. 

Quarter mile snow field 

Looking back down on Copper

View of Breckinridge 

Pretty flowers

More wildflowers

I found a place to camp five miles before the road to Breckinridge. I’ll be meeting my Aunt and Uncle at a trailhead first thing in the morning. I think after Mt. Elbert and today’s hard climbs I’ll really enjoy my nero and zero day. After setting up camp I made the mile marker for 1,300 miles hiked. I celebrated with a nip of Crown Royal whiskey. All in all today was another good day! 

1,300 miles down, 1,500 to go 

 "Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world." 
- John Milton


  1. Sounds like a good day. Hope knee and back improve. Good call with rude hiker - high road always the best!

  2. You look great in your new shirt - even though it isn't purple. :)
    Love all the wildflowers and CO scenery. So lucky to find Copper open for lunch.
    Enjoy your rest and congrats on 1,300!!!

  3. Glad to hear that you’re hiking through the pain ok. Sounds like perfect time to rest a bit in Breckenridge with your family! Finding restaurant on trail seems really lucky! Enjoy Yoda!

  4. Spectacular hikes AND trail side lunch? sign me up for the CT! (that comment from the hiker made me laugh, heh).

  5. Great pictures today. Hope you enjoy Liz and Tom.