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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leadville to Frisco

Leadville was a bit of a let down. The main street is cute, but I think Salida raised my expectations too high. At over 10,000 feet, it is the highest incorporated town in the United States. After my big day, I met my friends in town for lunch and they had a friend in town that gave us all a ride to the trail head.
It was only 33 miles to Frisco, so it was an easy overnight trip. It's a lot of fun when the miles aren't hard and there are people to chat with the whole day.
On the way to Leadville, Shroomer and Nancy had picked up Lina. She is from Germany and this is her first long distance hike. She had been trying to catch up with everyone for a couple weeks and after a few long days had covered the gap. It was an impressive effort because she had one of the larger packs that we have ever seen on a thru-hike. Shroomer and Nancy helped her get rid of a few things and she was flying with the lighter weight. She will be a pro by the end of the trail.
It was an great having only one pass and a few miles to go. We took a few group shots and got to enjoy the morning.
Being from Germany, Lina was excited in Copper mountain when we got there and the Euro Cup was on with Germany competing in the quarter finals.

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Salida to Leadville

Back at Monarch Pass, the trail went up. It was a rocky up and down for another 100 or so miles.
The first day started off on an exposed ridge with high winds, but soon descended to a few alpine lakes, but lots of old roads. I managed to lose the trail three different times on road junctions I just didn't see. After talking to others, I wasn't alone.
The second day felt like all roads up and down mountains. It was exahusting and did not provide many photos.
I only did 28 miles the second day not quite over the pass I was shooting for. I went up and over the pass the third morning and found a snow cornice at the top. I followed footprints along the top towards the trail. Then there was a four foot drop down the face of the cornice to the scree covered trail. It was still icy and solid since it was only 8.30. I figured I could jump, but first needed to drop my gear. I tossed my poles with no problem. I took off my pack and gently slid it down. It hit the trail and just kept going. I stood there watching my pack tumble end over end for 100 yards across a rock field until it finally came to a stop. There wasn't much I could except curse at it as it tumbled. So then it was my turn. I jumped and slid a couple feet only leaving a small bruise and cut on my leg. Even though the pack had gone for a ride, I was glad I hadn't tried jumping with it on my back. When I got down to it, my pack was in great shape. Only a snickers bar feel out of it and the damage was limited to: ripping off my bite valve, a cracked hip belt buckle and a cracked GPS case. All in all everything still worked and I was glad I had a little heavier but durable pack. It's name was now officially "The Beast."
The rest of the day was pretty slow and I unmotivational. I took lots of breaks as the trail went straight up another pass for 3000 vertical feet. I was ready to be done with Colorado at that point and camped next to the river that night.
On the next day I kept running into other hikers who told me that my friends were only an hour or so in front of me. I decided I needed to make it to Tennessee Pass and Leadville that night to meet up with them again. I pushed it hard all day, finishing 15 miles by noon. I kept up the pace all afternoon as the trail gained elevation and finished the last three miles strong, even though it was uphill. I don't understand how a trail that is supposed to follow a ridge goes uphill to a pass on a road. I made it to the pass at 8.45pm completing a 35 mile day. I got a ride in 10 minutes and was on my way to Leadville.

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At Monarch pass is a convience store where I had a double scoop of ice cream before trying to hitch. The second car that drove by picked me up. The timing was perfect because FIBArk, the river festival was just beginning and going all weekend.
FIBArk claims it is the oldest river festival in the United States and gets underway Thursday night with a race to the top of the mountain outside of town. There's no trail and it's an all out scramble to the top and back down. The winners do it in about 12 minutes.
Along with the festival comes all the fair food. Shroomer got a massive turkey leg, and I had a foot long corn dog. I love corn dogs.
All weekend are competitions on the river with rafters and kayakers.
Lint and Northern Strider showed up and joined in the festivities. Then we heard Krystele was in town and we searched her out. She is French and doing the CDT with mules. She has a great blog and is quite the personality.
Lint is also quite the character and has done more long distance hikes then most people imagine. After finishing the CDT this year, he will have done all three major trails twice, along with a couple of the other less known long distance trails. And has tattoos of the map of each trail.
Friday night I went to the free concert in the park, then to a DJ show at a bar. Certainly not a normal night on the trail.
Everyone left on Saturday, but I stayed around for one more day of entertainment. There was a parade in the morning with lots of Shriners on all sorts of cars, floats and horses. Then in the afternoon was the houligan race where teams would float down the river on rafts, that were not made out of boats. It was quite the show.
I met up with Roxanne and Jay who I had met in Lake City and happened to be in Salida. It was fun to have friends hanging out in town. Roxanne was kind enough to take me to the trail the next day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lake City to Salida

Leaving Lake City it was about 100 miles to Monarch Pass and into Salida.
The first day we went up and across Snow Mesa, then over San Luis Pass for about a 20 mile day. The next two days were up and down and I was doing over 30 miles a day. The last day it was a quick 15 to the pass and after an ice cream at the shop I got a ride from the third car that passed me.
I saw another wolf, my fourth of the trail. I was heading uphill and glanced up just to see it trotting off and grabbing a quick picture. The trail started following motorbike trails that were full of rocks going up and down every hill and knob along the way. It was full of ankle busters and was exhausting to deal with.