Tuesday, August 11th, 2020
I saw a moose way up on the hill early in the morning. It wasn’t a bull moose, but it was still cool to see one in a new state. The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness has been wonderful to hike through, even when we’re not on top of the mountains. We had to cross a stream with no easy way to avoid wet feet in sight. Frisbee managed to keep his balance on the thin, wobbly tree limb the laid across the stream. My balance is not quite as good as his. I followed his lead, anticipating my feet slipping and going in the cold water. By a stroke of luck, I ninja-ed my way across without falling. I think this surprised both of us!
Cottonwood Pass was just ahead. As always, I was suffering with the lack of oxygen, but the landscape was something out of a painting. There was a parking lot at the bottom on the other side with many cars crammed into it. We were stoked to see Dr. Thunder waiting for us at the bottom. He was accompanied by several other hikers.
“Do you want a hot dog? I’m cooking some in the van.”
I laughed, “You joking right?”
Dr Thunder strikes again with the awesome trail magic! He was cooking hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches in the van. He also had sodas and chips. What a guy!
Filter and Bang were there, as well as some other hikers, a guy named Calzone and the same group of girls we kept running into. I’m going to call them the Babysitters Club from now on. Filter would later coin them this group trail name before they received their own individual ones. It was really hard to get away, but I had eaten my share of calories. Dr. Thunder told us the upcoming stretch wasn’t too bad. We thanked him for being such an awesome guy, then began the climb up to the ridge.
I really enjoyed this stretch. It was so wide open and you could see several lakes in the distance. It was also a brutal switchback. By brutal, I mean never-ending! It was fine though. I was surrounded by beautiful plants and the occasional critter would pop out before scurrying away. There were so many wildflowers to look at that I had a tough time keeping a steady pace. I couldn’t quit stopping to take it all in!
After going up and over, the other side was equally beautiful. I ran into several other hikers who were coming from the other direction. They were still in the process of getting their trail legs and were asking me if the road was on the other side. I had some bad news for them.
After getting some of the freshest water I’ve ever had in my life (straight from the mountain), I ran back into Bang. He told me that a group of hikers were just ahead of us. I heard that there were very limited places to camp ahead and everyone was aiming for the same site. I challenged Bang to a race to camp. A little friendly competition to beat the crowd. Poor Bang would roll his ankle in the process, right as we made our way around the group. The same ankle that had been bothering him when we met. He had been on the mend, so I felt terrible!
We made it to the site at mile 44.0 of the Collegiate West Alternate. Very limited places were available to set up comfortably. The vegetation was either too thick or there were rocks. The scenery around us was nice though! Filter and Frisbee would eventually catch up and we’d all find a place to squeeze in. If you’re wondering about the group we passed, they actually managed to find a really nice site up ahead with a view. All was well.
20.2 miles (32.5 km)
Jump Ahead to The Colorado Trail: Part 12
Jump Back to The Colorado Trail: Part 10
Start from the Beginning: The Colorado Trail: Part 1