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Salida to Twin Lakes – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Salida to Twin Lakes Overview

The hike from Salida to Twin Lakes was tough, but a good one. Lots of great views from numerous passes and high ridges. 

Sunday June 24th – CDT Day 65

Finished packing my food this morning before leaving the hostel around 9am. Last shower for at least 3 days, and if not at Twin Lakes, then a solid week. It’s about 150 miles to Breckenridge, but will resupply at the general store in twin lakes halfway at about 75 miles.

I grabbed breakfast at McDonald’s, a distant runner up choice to the Patio Pancake Place, which had a long wait. I was walking over to Chucks liquor store for a ride up to the pass when he drove by and picked me up. Off we go.

Reached monarch pass and started hiking at 10:45am. Not too bad a start.

The trail passes through monarch Mountain Ski Resort. Kind of cool to walk up under the ski lifts in the summer. I saw several people hiking in the area, all day hikers or weekenders it looked like.

It was really windy going up the exposed Ridge through the ski resort and beyond. Probably 50 to 60 mile an hour winds. I put my wind jacket on and the extra space inside the hood kept flapping in the wind. This was really loud and quite annoying! Wind gusts from the side make tripping over rocks common. Hiking in to the wind and climbing uphill was tough.

Really nice views all along the climb to the first pass. Being in these constant winds was wearing me out. After cresting the pass, I planned on stopping for first lunch as soon as I could descend low enough and out of the wind. What a relief.

Against my wishes, the trail drops down into a Valley at around 10,400′. This means a big climb is coming soon. I passed by the boss lake reservoir, and found a small exposed vertical mine on a hillside above.

As the trail starts climbing up again, it follows a dirt road. This is the beginning of an 1800 ft climb. There was a sign on a tree for the Lost Wonder hut ahead. I passed two abandoned cabins, and assumed these were it. However, just up the road was a modern cabin and it happens to be occupied by a youth group. That makes more sense.

Some Trail runners passed me, scouting this section of trail for an upcoming race. I chugged along and made it to the top of the pass closer to 7:30pm.

I passed two separate campsites that were occupied, but I couldn’t tell if they were CDT hikers or whom they were. I filtered water in a small stream near the trailhead that was at the bottom of this valley. Even though it was about 8:45 pm, I didn’t want to camp here. Anything low in the valley is going to be colder and have more condensation. So I hiked another 15 minutes and found a flat spot along an old railroad grade just after 9pm.

The wicked winds died down and the stars are out bright. Another great night to cowboy camp!

Miles – 20
Total Miles – 1063 (start 1087, end 1107)
Rain – no
Sleep – cowboy camp
Animals – none

Monday June 25th – CDT Day 66

Woke up at 7:30. A guy named Aaron walked by as I was getting out of my bag, CDT NOBO as well. Didn’t start hiking until 8:30. That’s what happens when you hike late, you get up late.

Followed the “alpine tunnel” railroad for a few miles, which was easy walking. Higher up the valley, I left the railroad grade and hiked tail the rest of the way up the basin to the pass. This was about 1200 feet of elevation gain total from this morning’s campsite.

I took first lunch after descending to the tree line. I continued on down hill on some switchbacks until I reached the stream in the valley. I filtered water here then moved on… And bumped into a Colorado trail hiker taking lunch next to another branch of the stream just 50 yards away. People just lurking in the bushes.

Next is a long climb uphill, about 1800 feet. Great views as I climbed higher.

 

More awesome views when I dropped down into the next basin. The trail skirts the high basin through talus fields and a couple of snow patches.

Even better views over the next pass. I dropped down to the stream below, where I saw Kyle and Seth. We met in the hostel in Salida a few days earlier. They’d hiked all the way from the east coast through the southern states and now heading north on the CDT. I stopped here to eat lunch with them.

After lunch we continued on together. I succumbed to the idea that today was not going to be a big mile day, only planning on another 6 miles or so. After that, there’s nowhere to camp for another 5 miles as the trail stays high along the crest of the mountains.

It was nice hiking with company. It made the rest of the afternoon go by much easier. Excellent views the rest of the day. Stunning, really.

Early evening, we came across a mountain biker wearing a rainbow colored tutu. He does it for the laughs, and we sure got one.

Got to camp around 6:45pm, super early for me. But it was really nice. Nice campsite, good company and a welcome change from the normal solo grind. But it kinda sucked only covering 18 miles today.

Later at we were filtering out water at the stream, another hiker named Becky showed up. She was looking for a place to camp, and since there weren’t many other sites around we offered to share ours. Accepted.

It was a really nice night, great colors in the sky behind the mountains. We ate dinner together and hung out until the nearly full moon was the only light left. Another great day on the CDT.

Miles – 18
Total Miles – 1081 (start 1107, end 1125)
Rain – no
Sleep – cowboy camp
Animals – marmot, pica

Tuesday June 26th – CDT Day 67

In the middle of the night, I felt something tugging on or running against my quilt. It looked to be a mouse, and it ran away as I reacted to it.

Got up at 7am, first one of the group. Said my goodbyes and headed off at 8:15. Would love to hike more with these guys, or any company really, but everyone has their own pace. I’m hoping to cover miles today.

It’s a 500ft climb to a pass first thing after leaving camp. Not too bad a climb.

The next few miles of trail stays high, like it did in the san Juans. Great views, awesome hiking. Even crossed a couple of slopes still covered in snow.

I could see construction crews working on the road when I reached cottonwood pass. It’s closed, no hitch into Buena Vista possible. I’m headed to twin lakes anyways.

After cottonwood pass I entered the collegiate peaks wilderness. Pretty sweet views! And downhill for quite a while.

 

At the bottom of my descent I reached Texas creek. Other than the Gila, This was only the second time on the CDT where I had to actually ford a river. I put on my sandals and crossed. No problem. Just Under knee deep at the deepest.

A couple more miles slightly downhill along Texas creek. There were some beaver lodges in the ponds but I didn’t see any beavers.

Now the trail starts climbing again. I’m going for 1600ft tonight, leaving 1200ft of steep climbing up to lake Ann pass for the morning. It’s a nice forest hike with several stream Crossings.

I filtered water and ate around 6:30pm along a stream. Tons of mosquitoes, very annoying! I had to put on my zip on pant legs and cover up.

I knocked out another couple miles before finding a spot to camp a Quarter mile north of the trail junction to lake Ann pass. Mosquitoes were insane here too. Covered up immediately with the pant legs again, and my hooded fleece. I eventually set up the tent for to the bugs, although I’m sure they’d die down later. Just don’t want to deal with them anymore.

Great sunset. Two big climbs tomorrow and about 20 miles to twin lakes.

Miles – 23
Total Miles – 1104 (start 1125, end 1148)
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry tent
Animals – marmot, pica

Wednesday June 27th – CDT Day 68

Today I hope to reach the small town of Twin Lakes. While in Salida, I sent ahead a package with some food to the general store. This will supplement the likely poor food selection there. It closes at 6pm, and I have two big passes to climb along with about 20 miles.

The climb up to lake Ann pass wasn’t that bad. Switchbacks, not crazy steep.

From Lake Ann pass lies some of the finest views of the section. However, I was now faced with a steep ice cornice on the descent. Steps were kicked into the ice, angling down towards the switchbacks. Parts were near vertical. Some steps were icy, so I did my best to kick my own steps as needed. Not a death drop, but you wouldn’t want to fall here.

As I finished with the cornice, a group of hikers approached from the switchbacks below. One of the guys was celebrating his 80th birthday with an 80 mile hike. This guy looked amazing, like a really fit 60 year old. Perfect example of staying active throughout life. He should be everyone’s role model!

Constant beautiful views the whole way down to lake Ann. Then the trail drops below tree line, following a steep river Gorge.

The trail continues to head down hill along south fork clear creek until it reaches the silver basin trail. It skirts the hillsides above the creek offering nice views when not in the forest.

The trail eventually heads uphill again towards Mt hope pass. And it does so very steeply. 2500′ elevation gain in 2.4 miles. Definitely the longest stretch of steep trail so far on the CDT. It was hot as hell today too, in the upper 90s down by clear creek.

I passed a girl named Kid and her two dogs on the way up, taking a break from the brutal climb, in the heat of the day. I did the same shortly after. There was no way I was going to make it to the general store before they close, so I decided not to push too hard.

Farther up trail I met a guy named Lot taking a break by a stream. After the stream, the climb lessened in severity. Still a tough climb, but not the keel over and die type like the beginning was. And great views.

At the top I chatted with Kid a while before heading down. Great views before doing below tree line.

I took the trail towards Willis Gulch, instead of following it down to the Bermuda triangle trail. I believe the Ley maps say to do this then cross the marshy area around twin lakes. Sounds easier just to go towards Willis gulch… And it was. There was a bridge over the river here at a popular trail head.

Dark clouds and rain in the distance, but scattered. I stopped to filter water from the river and washed up a bit. A woman pulled up in an SUV and asked about if this was the right spot to pick up her husband. Her husband ended up being Lot, the guy I met going up hope pass just a few hours earlier. Lot arrived shortly after, and offered to give me a ride into town. Sounds good, since I didn’t have anywhere in mind to camp.

After a 2 or 3 mile ride into town, we passed the general store. There were several hikers gathered outside here, even at 8:30pm when I arrived. Sprinkler, Earl Grey, cookie monster, and inspector gadget (CDT 2014). I still had time to order some food at the Twin Lakes Inn. Expensive, but beggars can’t be choosers. I ended up getting a room here too, as the illure of a bed, shower and sink laundry were too great.

Nice room, great shower, comfy bed. I’m out!

Miles – 21
Total Miles – 1125 (start 1148, end 1169)
Rain – no
Sleep – hotel
Animals – marmot

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