Colorado Trail Segments 8 and 9

Date: 6/29/2018 – 7/5/2018
Who: Chris and myself
Length: about 40 miles
Time: 6.5 days
Weather: sunny, warm

In 2017, my friend Chris invited me to join him on a 1-week hike of the Colorado Trail, which he had planned for Summer 2018. My previous experience has been as a day-hiker, so multi-day backpacking was going to be a new challenge. It was fun to expand my horizons and try this new experience.

The Colorado Trail (CT) stretches 486 miles from Denver to Durango, and is divided into 28 segments. We had originally planned to start in Durango (segment 28) and work our way northbound. However, the CT was closed near Durango due to the 416 fire. As an alternative, we decided to start at segment 8 and work our way southbound. Michelle drove us to the segment 8 trailhead located near Copper Mountain ski resort on Friday, 6/29. Thanks, Michelle!

To help prepare for the multi-day backpacking trip, I watched YouTube videos and listened to podcasts. Two resources which I found particularly valuable were The First 40 Miles podcast, and Dixie on the Homemade Wanderlust YouTube channel. We also had maps and books published by the Colorado Trail Foundation. I took some long day hikes, carrying my new backpack loaded with extra gear, to get used to carrying it. Chris and I did a practice one night camp in Jones Park to test our gear.

Chris and Chris on the trail

Over the 7 days on the CT, we hiked 2 sections or 40 miles total, and spent 6 nights camping. We had great weather the whole time. The scenery along the trail was beautiful. My favorite campsite was at beautiful Porcupine Lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness. It was a good challenge to pack in the gear and food needed for 7 days. Water sources were plentiful, and our filters worked just fine.

Porcupine Lake in Holy Cross Wilderness
Porcupine Lake with reflected mountain alpenglow, in Holy Cross Wilderness

Most of the time, it was just the two of us. But we did meet friendly people along the way. At one point in segment 8 we met thru-hiker Dixie, and her friend Aaron, who were northbound on the CT. Where the trail crosses into Camp Hale, we met a kind “trail angel” Soulflower who gave us snacks and reduced our load by taking trash off of our hands. In the Holy Cross Wilderness we met thru-hikers Avalon and Tinkerbell who shared a bit about their experiences on the Appalachian Trail. The trail-names of other people we met were Cracker, Toad, Waitforme, Little Bear, and Vicious Soup.

Chris and thru-hiker Dixie
Mount Massive in the distance; Chris B on trail below

On 7/5, we were starting into section 10 of the CT. But, we decided to cut our hike short due to sighting smoke (or what we thought was smoke), and smelling smoke. We were fortunate to have a cell phone signal, and called Michelle to ask for a pickup at Turquoise Lake trailhead. Thanks again, Michelle!

This hike followed the long BLUE line:


View Colorado Chris Hikes in a larger map

My main time commitment in the Summer of 2018 was a home improvement project. We hired a contractor to have a sun room addition and other work done on our house. It was a long process. Thank goodness the project is now complete! Writing this entry in my hiking blog is helpful for getting into a good mindset for 2019.

Green Mountain Falls Loop

Date: 5/6/2018
Who: Sammy and myself
Length: about 4 miles loop
Time: 2 hours
Weather: 60 degrees, sunny

We came back to Green Mountain Falls to try the new Mount Dewey and Bratton Trails. Along with a section of Catamount Trail and Hondo Avenue, they form a nice loop hike around the town.

Sammy On Bratton Trail

Future exploring around Green Mountain Falls may include figuring out whether the old Mt. Dewey trail has a connector to the Bratton trail, and the Felton Thomas trail to Crystal Falls.

This hike followed the GREEN line:

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Catamount

Date: 4/29/2018
Who: Sammy and myself
Length: about 12 miles loop
Time: 8 hours
Weather: 50-70 degrees, sunny

The weather was great, so we took a longer route than originally planned this day. We started in Green Mountain Falls (GMF), and took the Catamount Trail up to South Catamount Reservoir in the North Slope Recreation Area of Pikes Peak. We started exploring a trail along the reservoir, and then decided to take Limber Pine Trail and make a loop around North Catamount Reservoir.

The weather was warm and calm, ideal conditions for hiking. I really enjoyed the long day. I had expected a loop around the North Catamount reservoir to include excellent views of the water with Pikes Peak in the background. But, in actuality, the trail is so far from the shore that the water is not in view most of the time.

South Catamount with Pikes Peak in background

The route which I took from North Catamount back to town is not recommended. There is a trail marked on my Pikes Peak Atlas. However, in this case I think the map is outdated. The trail was non-existent in sections, requiring bushwhacking and orienteering by topology. In other sections, the trail appears to be intentionally blocked by felled trees.

This hike followed the BLUE line:

View Colorado Chris Hikes in a larger map