Hello Wyoming! A Tail of Trail Magic.
I really wanted reach the next trail town, Rawlins, Wyoming, with as much road walking as possible. But my maps of the official CDT route did not seem to have as many miles on roads as I expected after reading various accounts on Facebook from hikers in front of me, including Allgood, the founding member of the Portland Mafia group I embarked with on April 18. A couple of hours after crossing into Wyoming I encountered Mammoth, the second southbound thru-hiker I met within a one hour period. Wow, southbounders already! Mammoth and Phantom started at the Canadian border on June 1 and they reached the half-way point of the CDT already. But it was Mammoth’s description of the alternate route on a long stretch of road that easily, although in a dry and boring way, led to Rawlins. I wanted to take that route.
Colorado: See ya later!
As I left Steamboat Springs on July 21 I was looking forward to hiking terrain that was more forgiving, less steep and at lower altitude. I was disappointed with my progress throughout northern Colorado, and my knee had begun hurting again since I ascended the 12,250 foot Parkview Mountain just a few days prior. I was so happy that my friend Scott Larson of Steamboat generously gave me a ride to the trailhead near Rabbit Ears Pass, and the home stretch toward the Wyoming border began! I didn’t even mind the cooling effects of the rain that made the forest look and feel like the southern Washington Cascades.
I enjoyed a 25 mile day hike on July 15 inside Rocky Mountain National Park where the official CDT route makes a nice loop up to Flattop Mountain (12250′). It was on Flattop where I hiked in 1977 with my brother Brian, and my first serious mountain hike at 23 years old.
After spending three two zero days in Fraser with Cindy and our friends Nancy and Sandy, I was back on the trail for three days and 56 miles. The highlight was the climb to James Peak and a scenic ridge-top descent to Rollins Pass.
CDT: THE ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
I enjoyed my two-night stay in Breckenridge but I looked forward to the incredible hiking that awaited me. The maps showed the trail on top of the Continental Divide, only sometimes dropping below the divide. And Grays Peak, a 14,270 foot peak would be my first Colorado “14er”. While at Twin Lakes a week ago I agreed to camp with my friends Nancy and Sandy at Herman Lake 13 miles past Grays Peak. But the most exciting day I looked forward to was July 8 when I would meet Cindy at Berthoud Pass and take two zero days at Nancy and Sandy’s cabin. I was not disappointed. Moreover, at Herman Lake I received the biggest surprise of the entire 82 days of this hike.
Cindy and Roger on Herman Lake, Colorado
Before leaving Twin Lakes on June 28 I decided that I wanted to arrive in Breckenridge in just four days. It is 69 trail miles between the two towns, and I really, really needed to get to the post office before Saturday, July 2, when the post office closed for the 3-day 4th of July weekend. This meant I would have to hike at least a couple of 20+ mile days, something I had not done for ten days. This was not the easy, flat Cochetopa Creek valley I hiked back then. Instead, I would be hiking over a couple of passes higher than 12000 feet, and climbing steep ascents in rough terrain.
Above: The squirrel was as curious about me as I was to it
For me, hiking the CDT is not it. Instead, having my lovely wife, Cindy, in my life is the dream worth living! Her contributions to this 2,800 mile journey are immeasurable. Cindy is home providing my logistical support and taking care of everything at home. In fact, the choice to hike the trail in 2016 (rather than wait for retirement a few years from now) was Cindy’s idea. And a great idea!
Above: Cindy in Vienna