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Lake City to Salida – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Lake City to Salida Overview

 

The first section of trail out of Spring Creek Pass was very scenic and similar to the last stretch south of the pass. After San Luis Peak, the trail drops down and the high mountain scenery fades away. Low valleys, dirt roads, forest. Lots of climbing and no views to show for it. After about 70 miles of this, the trail finally climbs high again and hikers are rewarded with distant views once again. This too comes at a cost… dodge the mountain bikers. After about 150 miles of the CDT sharing trail with the Colorado trail, I saw my first, and 100th, bikers. Watch out for these guys, they’ll run you over!

Sunday June 17th – CDT Day 58

Got up when I felt like it, around 8am. Bad weather still loomed, and so did many of us hikers. I ate breakfast at the Chillin place next door and took my time.

Easy and I left the hostel late morning to hitch back up to spring creek pass. Almost immediately we had someone stop, but was only going a few miles up the road. Another person stopped and we took a shorter hitch to the outside edge of town at cinnamon pass. Along the way, he stopped and picked up sprinkler, who had been trying to hitch for 1.5 hours. sprinkler had seen a black bear run across the road earlier though. Cool!

After being dropped off at cinnamon pass, we immediately got another ride out to our destination at spring creek pass.

We reached the pass and started hiking around noon thirty. Dark clouds and rain drops were prevalent. The trail climbs up about 1500ft onto a mesa. This was a bitch right out of town with a heavy pack.

Now I walked on snow mesa, completely exposed. Low visibility due to the dark and fast moving clouds. Rain drops on and off. Fortunately, no thunder and Lightning.

To protect my stuff from the rain, I used a trash compactor bag as a pack liner, as well as a pack cover for the outside. First time really wearing my train jacket all trail. It was cool out, but I still didn’t want to wear rain pants. I just hiked in shorts as I’ve done this entire hike.

Walked the mesa for a few miles and then some ups and downs. Constant low clouds made for a cool hike but it was now cold and wet.

After 9+ miles I saw sprinkler and easy setting up camp next to two other tents. The trail climbs high right after this so there’s little chance of another good site like this. It was cold and my feet were soaking wet, so I too decided to make this camp home for the night. Turns out it’s mark and John, whom I hadn’t seen since Doc Campbell’s.

This evening there was a large group of big horn sheep just above camp. With my zoom lens I was able to get some shots, but nothing too good. Also saw them sparring, bashing heads together. That was pretty awesome.

We’re all hoping for good weather tomorrow so we can cover some miles. At least this should have helped the Colorado wildfires.

Miles – 10.3
Total Miles – 944.2 
Rain – yes
Sleep – Backcountry tent
Animals – big horn sheep, marmot.

Monday June 18th – CDT Day 59

I woke up to the Sun on my tent this morning, a very welcome feeling. It was a bit breezy and cooler but hey, no rain!

Started hiking at 8. There were a couple bigger climbs this morning and then it was all downhill. I also had the option to bag San Luis peak, a 14 ER. However, I have plans to meet my buddy in Salida on Friday, and would like to get there Thursday, Early enough to do a couple of chores as well. So today, I hope to cover as many miles as possible and take advantage of the very long downhill section.

The first climb was a tough one. Very steep and first thing in the morning.

The second climb was tough too, but I started finding some very clear crystals along the trail. If it’s not some super pure form of quartz then I don’t know what it is. Grabbed a few of these to add to the collection.

Next I passed the intersection for the Creed cut off. Apparently a lot of people had to take this when the san Juans were closed. Glad I made it through.

After another climb I crested a pass. Here I could see San Luis peak. No snow on top. The trail stays high along the edges of the basin and makes its way to a saddle below San Luis peak.

I decided against climbing San Luis peak for a few reasons. I had already done a lot of climbing today and wasn’t in the mood for any more, and I wanted to cover more miles.

 

Now it was all downhill for most of the rest of the day. It’s a 15 plus mile stretch of no climbing, so I should be able to do this and more today, even though it’s already almost 1pm.

While hiking down the valley below San Luis peak I stumbled upon Dixie. We ended up hiking together for a while. Then we stumbled upon Easy, and we all took a break together.

The three of us hiked together after our break for a while until we reached a stream. I stayed behind to filter a couple liters.

Next was the La Garita wilderness. Here the trail follows a river and runs through a valley. Scenic, and a nice change of pace.

Eventually caught up with Easy again and we hiked together for about an hour and a half. He stopped to make camp where the trail started climbing up a dirt road, ending the 15 mi downhill section. However, I wanted to cover a few more miles and so I kept going.

Much of the rest of the evening was along a dirt road. I hiked until around 8:45pm, finding camp in the tree line alongside a huge open field. I cowboy camped tonight.

Hiked 31 miles today, which was 29.1 guthook miles. Gotta put it a few more big days to make my Thursday afternoon schedule.

Miles – 31.1
Total Miles – 975.3 
Rain – no
Sleep – cowboy camp
Animals – none

Tuesday June 19th – CDT Day 60

Woke up with the Sun shining on me around 6:15. Beautiful morning.

This morning’s hike follows a dirt road for several miles as it passes through the same very large Valley I entered last night. Easy hiking, but nothing super scenic.

Then the trail heads up pill and into a small Valley with a little stream. However, the were a ton of cows in the area and the water looked dirty. Also it wasn’t very deep, so I skipped this water source.

The trail heads up Hill along a dirt road. Not much to see here. I’m getting really thirsty now, running on about one liter all day. It’s now late morning and I’m about 12 miles in today.

Made it to the next water source after 1pm. Earl Grey was here as well. 16 miles so far today. It’s also been awhile since I’ve been this dehydrated. I drank over 2 liters of water and filtered two more to get me to the next source.

The trail crosses a paved highway and then follows Lujan creek rd uphill. Nothing much going on here, just a 1500ft climb with little to see.

The CDT leaves the road and becomes trail only for the rest of the day. It’s also the beginning of several miles of ups and downs along a series of wooded hill tops. Boring! And tiring.

Late this afternoon I hit the 1000 mile mark on the CDT. Woo-hoo! About one third of the way done now.

I made camp on a saddle just north of middle baldy. Lots of mosquitoes out here. Those bastards.

Miles – 28
Total Miles – 1003.3 
Rain – no
Sleep – cowboy camp
Animals – elk

Wednesday June 20th – CDT Day 61

Today’s hike continued where yesterday’s left off… Boring ups and downs along a ridge with no views. Lots of rocks to trip over and to hurt my feet. Lots of mosquitoes.

A couple of nice meadows along the way filled with colorful flowers and dandelions. 

Today was dry as well, one stream early afternoon. So I was thirsty all morning. Filtered my water and continued heading downhill when I should have made a turn uphill here. Went about 1.5 miles out of the way before realizing it, so about an hour lost here.

Heading up hill now, more ups and downs with little views. A few clearings in the trees offered some of the first distant views in a while. There were a couple of dirt bikes on trail here, pretty sure that’s not allowed.

After a steep climb up to Marshall pass, there were some better views along the ridge. A couple more miles to a snowmobile cabin now, where I’ll stay tonight.

When I reached the cabin, Easy was already there. I liked the rustic feel of the peeve, and preferred it over the yurt I stayed in before lake city. There was a marmot outside chewing on the cabin or something, making lots of noise.

Miles – 28
Total Miles – 1031.3 
Rain – no
Sleep – cabin
Animals – deer

Thursday June 21st – CDT Day 62

Slept great in the cabin. The outhouse was nice, no need to dig a hole this morning.

After leaving the cabin, there was lots of interesting rocks along the trail. Big flakes of mica and even solid rocks of it. Picked up a few samples for the collection.

After a 900ft climb, the tail reaches an exposed ridge. Finally, distant views again! Man the last 70 miles were rather boring.

There’s tons of mountain bikers on trail now. The CDT had been paralleling the Colorado trail for around 150 miles and today was the first time I had seen a biker. And there are about 100 of them today! One group of 4 were came flying around a blind corner on a mountainside and I had to dive out of the way. They didn’t slow down at all. People like this give bikers a bad name. Nice tights, bro… Haha.

Made it to monarch pass a little after noon. It took me an hour to get a hitch. Chuck, a local trail angel, was dropping off some hikers at the pass and picked me up on his way back down to Salida. He offered to take me, Easy and a few other hikers rafting on the Arkansas River that evening. Hell yeah!

Checked in at the simple lodge hostel, showered then went out for pizza with Earl Grey. Smashed a whole pizza then back to the hostel.

Left the hostel around 5 when Chuck picked us up then headed down to the river. He had 3 rafts, the kind you’d use on a commercial rafting trip. In fact, we had an actual guide on our raft, who pretty much took care of everything. I only had to contribute a few paddle strokes all night in between drinking beer. Great sunset and an awesome experience!

Miles – 12
Total Miles – 1043.3 
Rain – no
Sleep – cabin
Animals – deer

Friday June 22nd – CDT Day 63 (zero day)

Went to last with sprinkler and back to the hostel for laundry. Finally, the was a long wait.

I was excited to meet up with my friend Ryan today but unfortunately he has been sick and won’t be able to make it. Damn, that goes plans to prospect on mt antero today. At least we should be able to hang out when I get to Breckenridge.

Went to Safeway and picked up Italian sausage for dinner. Will cook back at the hostel with a couple other guys.

Miles – 0
Total Miles – 1043.3
Rain – no
Sleep – hostel
Animals – deer

Saturday June 23rd – CDT Day 64 (zero day)

Another zero day today. I’ve been having such a great time in town that I’ve been slacking on my log and need to finish that this morning so I can mail out my bounce box before the post office closes. This is becoming a common occurrence. 

Miles – 0
Total Miles – 1043.3 
Rain – no
Sleep – hostel
Animals – deer

Like what you see?

3 Responses

  1. Glenda

    Hi Famous, I knew there was something very special about you, when I met you!

    I thought it was the fancy camera you were willing to carry for 3100 miles! As I am a camera/picture person. That touched my heart.

    Then today reading your update, I said “darn, I needed more time with Famous! You could be my best friend!”

    I cannot believe you pick up rocks to carry with you!! That is something else I would do! I am a rock girl!! I hope you are mailing them home from the post offices!

    I absolutely Love reading your updates on the trail. Great job of sharing the journey! Beautiful pictures and I love your positive soul!

    XOXOXOX Glenda Stephens

     

    June 24, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    • SeekingLost
      SeekingLost

      Hi Glenda, Thank you so much for the kind words! It’s definitely a lot of work to carry around all the camera gear but it’s worth it in my eyes. I’m sending home my rocks every other town or so. Found some obsidian, geodes, well defined and clear quartz crystals and more. What have you found down there in New Mexico?

      Just got into Grand Lake. I’ve been trying to update the blog every other town or so, but it was three towns since the last update. It all boils down to logistics of where I can send my bounce box (which contains my laptop). It takes a whole day to get the blog updated so the towns I get my laptop, I’m staying two days in… One for chores and one for the blog.

      As much as I hate to say it, I think I am going to have to hold off on blog updates until I finish the hike. Taking two days off in town instead of one or none is setting my schedule back and in the end, could jeopardize my chances of reaching Canada before the snow comes. I’m starting to feel the time crunch now. I will continue to keep a daily journal in my phone so when I get home, I’ll have that ready to post here. Processing the photos, resizing them, choosing the best ones, uploading them to the blog and inserting them into the content is much more time consuming than I anticipated. I hope you understand and thanks again for your support! I know who I’ll contact if I’m ever back in New Mexico 🙂

       

      July 11, 2018 at 5:48 pm

  2. Glenda

    Hello Famous, Thinking of you hoping your days are all good. It seems like such a long time since an update 14 days!! Hope you are healthy, happy and having a wonderful experience. I check for updates every day and try to be patient!

    You are doing a great job of documenting your journey, we love reading it and seeing your amazing pictures!

    XOXOXO Ed and Glenda Stephens

     

    July 8, 2018 at 12:26 am

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