Gold Hill Trail Head(104.4) to Stealth Spot(123.6) 19.8mi
Total Miles: 166.3
I had a great nights sleep last night. I had to take a free bus to get back to the trail head and it didn’t leave until 6:45. I finished packing up and was out of the condo by 6:30. I only had to walk .3 miles to get to the bus stop. Unfortunately, I missed the 6:45 bus and had to wait until 7:15. I knew that today was going to be an ass kicker, so I wanted to get an early start. I was back on trail by 7:35. I remembered a lot about this section from my cdt thruhike in 2018. My memories matched reality today. I climbed uphill gradually through a burn/logging area for several miles. This was a nice warm up for the giant climb that would take me most of the day to complete. Although I was well rested from my extended town stop my legs didn’t feel rested at all. They felt lethargic all day. I shouldn’t have been surprised, I’ve been doing this long enough I should have expected to have to deal with town legs. I also picked up a 4.5 day food resupply. The 8.5 mile climb took me almost 5 hours. I think at one point a sloth might have passed me.
Condo in stayed in last night
The only easy part of my day
Today was the first day I can remember that water was very easy. It seemed like I had access to good water every few miles today. That really made for a nice change, especially with all of the elevation I gained and lost today. The second climb of the day was very steep. I really struggled to keep hiking without taking any breaks. As soon as I hit 11,500ft I felt like I was breathing through a straw. I could tell that my muscles didn’t care for the decreased oxygen either. The only thing to do was keep my head down and continue putting one foot in front of the other. I knew that I was going to have an epic view from the top and that helped my moral.
Two miles from the top
Less than a mile
Looking down on Breckenridge
At the top of the in bounds of the ski area
I wanted to enjoy a nice long break on the summit, but an afternoon storm was rolling in. I made a break to get below tree line as quick as possible, but I didn’t quite make it. I got hailed on for about half a mile. Going downhill was tough as well, it was very steep and my legs were shot and my feet were very tender. I ended up losing all of the elevation that I worked so hard for. I could see Copper Mountain from the top of the ridge line. It took me hours of going down before I finally got there. By the time I hit the highway I was utterly exhausted. The rain had picked up and I really had to pay attention to every step so I didn’t hurt myself. I guess I wasn’t being careful enough, because I slipped going over a tree that was blocking the trail. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt very badly. Just a bruised thigh and elbow, it could have been a lot worse since there were a lot of pointy rocks in the area.
Cooper Ski Resort
The ski area is being cleaned up by a helicopter. They are removing dead trees from some of the ski runs. The resort I work for did the same thing last summer. It was cool to watch the helicopter remove one tree at a time.
Over the next two hours I only hiked 2.5 miles. My legs were just spent. My goal for today was only fifteen miles, so anything past that would be a bonus. I had plenty of time before dark to get more miles in. I decided not to stop in at the resort for anything. I was just in town for two days and didn’t feel like it was necessary to pay for more town food.
Copper Mountain Resort
Once again water wasn’t an issue in this stretch, it was very plentiful. The problem was finding a place to camp. I was running out of steam and another storm was rolling in. I tried to pick up the pace, but all I could manage was 2mph. I grabbed 3L of water so if I found a place to stop and make camp I would be set. As the thunder began I started to get nervous. I really dislike setting up camp in the rain. It had just begun to drizzle when I finally found a spot. It wasn’t very flat, but I would just have to make due. I was able to get set up and cook dinner before it started to really rain. I guess tonight I’ll learn how water tight my new set up is.
“I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.” - Abraham Lincoln