Endless P Summer

After we finished up in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains, Sara and I made our way out to nearby Bishop Hot Springs for a relaxing soak. While there I’ve come as close as I ever have to adopting a puppy. There was a pair of wild(?) dogs out there, although more likely ranch dogs with a gigantic range, that were so friendly and well behaved that I wanted to take them with me. A pair of dogs they make Disney movies about. In the end we figured we didn’t want to actually steal someone’s dogs in case they did actually belong to a ranch or farm out this way. From there we drove east across Utah and into Colorado stopping in Fort Collins and staying with BK and Prickly Pear for a few days where we paddle boarded on the reservoir, ate burritos, and played trains. We couldn’t convince BK but we talked Pear into playing a little hooky and joining us for a few days backpacking through Colorado’s Western Collegiate peaks and maybe summiting a mountain. Sara and I drove south from FoCo to Leadville and parked out in the foothills for the night with plans to start a trip the next day with Pear, and also friends Jabba and Badger who were joining us.

Day 1…..8 miles…..9/15/20

This morning at the Safeway in Leadville we met up with Prickly Pear and also Jabba and Badger who drove over from the Denver area. Our plan was to hike a 60 mile section of the Colorado Trail or the Continental Divide Trail as they overlap here and hopefully(maybe) climb a few of the fourteeners. An early season snow from last week might make matters difficult for climbing these peaks but without that snow the Colorado wildfires would keep us from hiking here at all. 
We dropped 2 cars at Missouri Gulch Trailhead then Badger drove us all down to the Boss Lake Trailhead just north of Monarch Pass. There was about a 1.5 mile access trail to the CT then we just cruised all afternoon until finding a place to camp. In places there was snow on the ground and we got up high topping out over 12,000 feet on Chalk Creek Pass. It may be a bit cold for the next few days but I like our plan and the hiking should be good. 
Day 2…..17 miles…..9/16/20
We rolled out of bed a little later than normal and waited until it got slightly warmer to start walking. Soon we fell in behind 3 hunters and between them and us we saw two bucks about 10 feet from the side of the trail. They either weren’t hunting for deer or are terrible hunters. We walked along the alpine tunnel trail and then up a long slow climb to the top of an unnamed pass. That was the theme of the day, drop down to a creek and then climb up another unnamed pass with excellent views. 
I hiked this trail southbound on the CT in ‘16 and then northbound on the CDT in ‘17. Lots of it seemed very familiar but nothing completely jogged my memory. We did pass through a section where QB, Prickly Pear and I remembered seeing what we thought was Barack Obama’s plane in 2016 and then diving into a bush to take cover from a hailstorm. 
Our pace was a little relaxed today which was nice with some long breaks. Camping looked to be tricky in the next handful of miles so around 5 we found a spot that did the trick. Hiking was great today but there was some snow fields here and there in particular on the north sides of the passes so we walked with rather wet feet all day. This was never really an issue until we got to camp and everyone seemed to have super cold feet. 
Day 3…..19 miles…..9/17/20
It was a cold one this morning, we camped close to 12,000 feet and Badger’s thermometer said something like 33 degrees. The air was also much smokier than before, a local fire was ruled out so we’re guessing it’s smoke that drifted over from California. Because of the smoke we’re probably ruling out climbing any of the fourteeners we loosely planned for at the end of the hike. Other than that the hiking has been great. 
Most of the morning we were climbing before topping out just before Cottonwood Pass. Up at the pass we crossed a road and a bunch of people taking pictures of the Continental Divide sign then started down towards Texas Creek. Jabba, the loudest person I know, was having some sort of ankle injury caused by the high top Altra Lone Peaks he was wearing. He almost hitched out at the pass but since I wear the low cut version of the same sneakers and same size QB suggested we try switching. No problem. It was kinda weird, I’ve never ever switched shoes with someone before, but it was the difference of him bailing or not and they didn’t bother my ankles. 
After walking a few miles in another man’s shoes we dropped down to Texas Creek. We ate lunch, walked along the creek playing the movie game then started a long slow climb up towards Lake Ann Pass before finding a flat spot to camp big enough to accommodate 4 tents. Oh yeah, I saw a moose. Pear, Jabba, and Badger claimed they saw another one but only just the one for me. 
Day 4…..13 miles…..9/18/20
It was significantly warmer at our campsite last night most likely since we were about a thousand feet lower. The 5 of us started strong up our last challenge of this hike, Lake Ann Pass. This is a long gradual climb that tops out around 12,500 feet and provides some awesome views. In 2017 while QB and I were hiking the CDT the north side of this pass was one of the trickier obstacles in Colorado. Thankfully we didn’t have to navigate down a gigantic cornice this time. There was a fair amount of snow on the north side but it wasn’t too difficult to descend. 
On the way down we crossed paths with a couple of ultra runners going for FKT attempts. In particular, Courtney Dawaulter, who might be the most b.a. person in the sport. Today she was out here pacing her friend on a training run. The rest of the day we spent descending, while passing the Huron Peak Trailhead, then the ghost town of Winfield and back to the cars. Prickly Pear and QB headed to Leadville for the afternoon and I drove Jabba and Badger back to Badger’s truck near Monarch Pass. 
I backtracked to Leadville met up with the girls. Over Pizza we changed our minds and decided to try Huron tomorrow. This meant driving back out to Missouri Gulch and setting up camp for the night. With lighter packs we’ll hopefully get up the peak tomorrow. 
Day 5…..11 miles…..9/19/20
The road out to Missouri Gulch isn’t great. It gets worse significantly worse for the 2 miles past the ghost town of Winfield to the Huron Peak trailhead. We camped on the side of the road shortly before Winfield giving us an extra 4 miles round trip of road walking but I’d rather that than destroy my car. 
QB, Prickly Pear, and I quickly covered the 2 miles of road to the Huron Peak Trailhead.  The trail climbs almost 3500 feet over 3.5 miles. It’s steep and it’s a challenge but it’s a walk-up. There aren’t any crazy moves necessary and the exposure level is low. For the first couple miles we were below treeline and just switchbacked upwards gaining significant elevation. Once above the trees we could look up at the behemoth were about to climb. As with all of Colorado’s Fourteeners, Huron was busy. Especially on a Saturday in September. I’m guessing the early season snow kept some people away, still busy though. 
Shortly above treeline we hit snow and spent the next hour climbing up towards the summit. Once we got close it got steeper and icier. We put on what we had for traction; QB and I shared a pair of trekking poles and a pair of spikes. Pear didn’t wear spikes but she had 2 poles. All 3 of us survived and summitted. At the top it was clear, sunny, and warm. Views were awesome and it was a truly beautiful summit. We quickly and easily descended the mountain then backtracked the road to the car. The three of us ate burgers in Leadville then Pear headed home to FoCo. QB and I showered and did laundry at the laundromat then started making our way northeast on the long drive to Minnesota to paddle the Boundary Waters. 
Feel free to checkout our instas for more pics of this adventure and others: @endlesspsummer and @sarahikes.
Our friends have been doing some awesome stuff, if you’d like to see @peardontcare @therealhikingviking @zrdavis

8/14/19…..Zero miles in Pagosa

We took the day off from hiking today and spent it in Pagosa. It was great! Took care of a few errands; doing laundry, buying food for the next section and eating a bunch of food of course. This town is really cool but it isn’t ideal for hikers. The only laundromat is 2 miles away from the downtown where we stayed and the Wal-Mart another mile from there. Instead of walking all over the place on our day off we just hitched around town which made life easier.

This afternoon our friends Garbelly and Critter hitched into town and our joining us for the next few weeks or so. These 2 are currently 850 miles into an Appalachian Trail southbound thru hike. I went out and camped with them a couple weeks ago in NY and told them our upcoming plan. I swear I wasn’t trying to persuade them to join us, but not long after that they took an ‘alternate’ in New Jersey. They rented a car, drove to Buffalo, then to Nashville, then flew to Denver. From Denver they spent a day and a half taking buses and hitchhiking before crawling into Pagosa this afternoon. I know I’ve introduced these 2 in this blog before but in case you forgot; Garbelly and Critter are from Nashville where he works as an arborist and Critter is a fly fishing guide. I first met Garbelly on the PCT in ’15 and then we hiked with both of them in ’17 on the CDT. They are very fun, and very rad. If you don’t believe me check out their blog: trailingthought.com

The 4 of us had a nice soak in the local hippy dip, this is basically a free hot spring along the San Juan River formed from the runoff of the hot water coming from the resort hot springs. We got pizzas then met up with our friend Smiley for ice creams. Smiley has been thru hiking for years and lately has been living in and enjoying Pagosa Springs. He adopted and takes care of a section of trail that we’ve got coming up. We’ll definitely be going over that section with a fine tooth comb and promptly reporting to the CDTC.

8/15…..CDT Mile 882.3…..20.5 miles

First thing this morning we did a decent job on the San Juan Motel continental breakfast. All you can eat Toaster Strudel and I haven’t had one of those since the 90’s and then I was always fighting over them with my siblings.

Since a foursome hitching back up to Wolf Creek Pass would never work, we split up. QB and I got picked up by Jeff, a builder, who moved his family out here 20 years ago for the skiing. We stopped at his house in a neighborhood 6 miles out of town closer to the Pass. He built the house himself out of refurbished antique timber. Critter and Garbelly got picked up by some hikers and met us at the trailhead.

The hiking today was so much fun. Much easier and more relaxing than the last time we came through here. We did get delayed a little bit when a hail storm rolled through so instead of following the trail up and over a ridge the 4 of us quickly set up the fly to our tent and waited out the weather. After that it was smooth sailing the rest of the day. We passed the Creede Cutoff route that we had all taken back in ‘17. For our friends the trail was all new after the cutoff. (The Creede Cutoff is a lower route through the San Juan’s that is often taken in during lousy weather conditions). Unfortunately for me and QB, in ‘17 we carried on past the cutoff before coming to an impasse and having to backtrack costing us multiple days. More on that later.

Because of our late start and the delay waiting out the weather we hiked until sunset to get to where we were going. We found a really pretty campsite on somewhat uneven terrain. Hope it will do.

8/16/19…..CDT Mile 904.8…..22.5 miles

I made over the dastardly Knife’s Edge today. In ‘17 QB and I decided against crossing the narrow trail in the snow and decided the safer thing to do would be to find another way through the San Juan’s. We made a couple of mistakes before cutting our losses and heading south to the Creede Cutoff. I wrote more about it then and you can go back in my blog and check it out. Since then the Knife’s Edge has been the asterisk on my CDT thru hike.

Today we got across it. Granted there was barely any snow and it was much simpler, I’m still glad I wasn’t snowshoeing across it. From here until the Colorado Trail intersection the trail is all new to me and QB.

Besides the pinnacle of the day the rest of the hiking was really good. We seemed to have some big climbs or maybe they felt that way since we’re up over 12,000 feet and we somehow dodged significant rain and thunderstorms all day. In the evening we saw in the distance the biggest herd of elk I’ve ever seen. A conservative guess would be 120 elk but probably more like 150(the number grows every time we talk about them). We’re camping at Squaw Pass tonight which feels more like a valley and we all had nice fat bags of Mac n’ Cheese.

8/17/19…..CDT Mile 919.9…..15.1 miles

We strategically had a shorter day today in order to camp below 11,000 feet, and to prevent us from camping well over 12,000 the next 2 nights. It was very relaxing and enjoyable.

Squaw Pass was cold last night and there was frost on both tents when we woke up. There was a long climb out of camp and all morning we had incredible views. We saw more elk and for the first time of this trip we saw about a dozen big horn sheep.Critter and Garbelly

This afternoon we walked across a marshy area with a couple of river crossings/jumps and then we were back climbing into the woods. We found a spot to camp in some trees next to a creek in the shadow of a beefy mountain. I was able to sit in the creek and cool off a little but it wasn’t ideal for getting myself fully submerged.

8/18/19…..CDT Mile 938.3…..18.4 miles

First thing this morning we started climbing up a pass to the right of which was the Rio Grande Pyramid, a 13,900 foot peak shaped like a Mayan Pyramid. There’s a long wall on the left shoulder of the mountain and in one spot a massive chunk of the wall is missing creating a big window. We went off trail and climbed up to that, it was awesome.Garbelly inside the Window

After getting back down to the trail we had 5 more passes to climb over 18 miles. It was a lot of climbing for a relatively short mileage day. And it was awesome, packed with some massive mountain views and lots of wildlife. QB and I saw what we really think was a golden eagle (unconfirmed golden eagle sighting), and I definitely saw a hummingbird right after that. We met multiple parties with pack llamas that had actually just met each other. Garbelly said it was a llama meetup group. Then at lunch we stopped at West Ute Lake and the place had cutthroat trout jumping out of it like crazy. We ate and swam at the lake and met a family with 4 kids and 4 dogs out in the mountains for 8 nights. That’s impressive.

From West Ute Lake we climbed up a steep pass that had another lake with a rocky island just a short ways down from the top. Garbelly and I raced down to swim out to the island before the girls got over the pass. Icy cold water never felt so good.

A little further down from the pass we came across the first moose of the trip about 20 feet from trail. An adolescent bull moose with velvet antlers was just chilling out eating bushes and barely paid us any mind at all. We descended a little further before turning and immediately started climbing again. This was Hunchback Pass, the last and beefiest pass of the day. We took our time getting up and over it then found some campsites near Beartown trailhead.

8/19/19…..CDT Mile 961.9…..23.6 miles

Immediately after breaking camp this morning, before we even made it from the campsite to the trail, we saw 3 bull moose eating breakfast. It was quite an impressive sight, to see these massive wild animals up close and personal. Minutes later I saw a couple elk up on a ridge, all before sunrise.

We climbed for about a mile and half and the CDT joined the Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail(CT) stretches roughly 500 miles from Waterton Canyon near Denver to Durango, CO. The CT and the CDT coincide for about 300 miles. In 2016, QB and I, as well as a few other friends hiked the Colorado Trail. In the opposite direction though so everything seems new.

All day we were up high above tree line and over 12,000 feet. We saw about 15 southbound CT hikers as well as 7 bike packers as the CT is one of the few long distance trails that allows bikes. It was a good day for animals too. Besides the moose and elk we saw this morning, I saw a weasel(a week ago I saw one of these and mistakenly referred to it as a pine marten), a peregrine falcon, 2 more bull moose and 2 coyotes separately, plus a herd of hundreds of domestic sheep in the distance.

We’re camped up high at 12,300 feet at Carson trailhead. Most likely it will be a cold night and since this is the sight of an old mining camp, with remains and everything, it is undoubtedly haunted.

8/20…..CDT Mile 978.9…..17 miles

Town Day! We cruised all day, barely stopping because for the first time in almost a week we’d have a chance for some burgers, sodas, and a little civilization. The sooner the better.

The trail was mostly up above treeline all morning and we passed the Colorado Trail High Point at 13,271 feet. We saw half a dozen CT hikers traveling south including my friend Lexy who I hiked some of Virginia with on the AT in ‘16. When we got to the road we all had every intention of hitching but a CT hiker, Quincy, had called for a shuttle and when split 5 ways it was pretty cheap. Worth it not to wait around for a car.

In Lake City we picked up packages ate burgers and sodas then came up with a new plan. Originally we thought we’d be getting back on the CDT and traveling north another hundred miles but decided against it. Garbelly and Critter had already done that section and QB and I had hiked it twice in the last 3 years. It’s ok and everything but as far as Colorado goes it’s not the most exciting section of trail between Lake City and Salida. Instead we’re going to the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. We’ll be meeting a friend in Jackson Hole on the 25th anyway to start the Wind River High Route so why not go a few days early and check out the Tetons. To do this we need to get to Gunnison, CO, spend the night, rent a car in the morning and drive all day.

After lunch we split up to make the hitching easier. QB and I got 2 rides; first from Caleb up 149 to Blue Mesa and another from Hunter the rest of the way on Rt 50 into Gunnison. Our friends arrived shortly afterwards and then we found out that it was college move in week for Western Colorado University and there was barely any vacancy in town.

Finally Critter found us a room at the Island Acres Motel on the edge of Gunnison with a kitchenette and everything. We walked to the market, got some groceries to cook for dinner, then walked the mile or so to our room and took some long overdue showers.

To see more pictures follow us on insta: @endlesspsummer, @sarahikes and our friends insta @ourtrailingthought

For the next month or so Sara(QB) and I are planning to hike a few short trails or sections of trails. Starting with the San Juan mountains, a section of the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado. In 2017 we hiked the CDT from Mexico to Canada but due to excessive snow we rerouted through the town of Creede instead of hiking out and around the San Juan’s. From Cumbres Pass outside of Chama, NM we’re planning to hike a few hundred miles. Once we get our fill of Colorado we’re headed to either the Unitas in Northeast Utah and then the Wind River Range in Wyoming.

8/10/19…..CDT Mile 793.3…..1 Mile

So we started traveling yesterday but really didn’t get out west until just about midnight mountain time. We drove from Lynn to Long Island, visited with Sara’s family then flew from JFK to Albuquerque. It was an all day event. Waking up in a Rodeway Inn this morning we still had a long way to go to get on trail.

From downtown Albuquerque we took a train for an hour and a half to Santa Fe($9 each) and landed right next to an REI and a farmer’s market. Perfect! We got a fuel canister, perused the market and got lunch at Tia Sofia’s(both thumbs all the way up). So good! New Mexico is famous for green chilies and sopapillas and this place did not disappoint. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; If I’m ever to be executed and given a last meal request I’ll take a never ending parade of sopapilla baskets with honey please. After lunch we went to the supermarket and got our food supply for the first section of trail then started walking towards Rt 84. It’s over a hundred miles but a straight shot from here to Chama so we put our thumbs out.

Within 5 minutes, Leona and Jonathan picked us up and drove us about 40 minutes up past Santa Clara Pueblo and the town of Espanola. Leona is from Yakama Nation and Jonathan Navajo Nation. They gave us a great ride and filled us in on the native lands and Pueblos we passed by.

Outside of Espanola we walked for just a few minutes before getting picked up by Neil, Elizabeth, Lucy and Vador(smallest Pekingese dog in the world). They were coming from buying a house in Taos and headed to Ghost Ranch to go horseback riding. It was a fun ride and they were excited to learn about our hiking trips.

From the Ghost Ranch turnoff we quickly got picked up by Audrina who drove us about a half hour to TA or Tierra Amarilla. She told us about Northern New Mexico, her travels, and warned us about the crazies while listening to Mexican music fading in and out on the radio.

In TA we stopped for a coke and a bathroom break, then waited on the side of the road about 5 minutes before Prentiss turned around and picked us up. Always a good sign when a driver turns around to come back for you. Prentiss is a Seattle transplant who works as an ER nurse in Espanola on his way to Colorado for the weekend. He brought us the rest of the way to Chama and dropped us off outside the Boxcar Cafe, home of the best breakfast burrito I ever had. This time I had a regular burrito smothered with cheese and green chilies and that was good too.

We walked a little bit out of town and got picked up by Luke and Amanda, who also turned around to get us, and they drove us the 10 miles or so up to Cumbres Pass in Colorado. They’re currently on a road trip back to KC, MO where they’re working and saving to finish building their cabin in Wrangell-St Elias National Park in Alaska. Currently they’ve got an 8 by 8 foot cabin and looking to expand. Now that sounds awesome.

We got on trail at Cumbres Pass, walked about a mile and set the tent up in a bed of soft pine needles for the night. Ahh, Home Sweet Home!

On a little side note, 24 hours ago we were at sea level and tonight we’re camping over 10,000 feet. I’ll let you know how it affects me.

8/11/19…..CDT Mile 808.7…..15.4 miles

Welp I took an Imodium today. Last night was a bit rough, I tossed and turned, my head was aching a bit, I started getting a sore throat and in the morning my stomach was in knots. Possibly due to altitude but probably due to the multiple smothered New Mexican meals I ate. All day I felt like my energy was a bit sapped and after digging multiple cat holes it was time for some medicine.

The weather didn’t help today either. We woke up to rain on the tent and thunder in the distance so we waited it out for awhile and didn’t get moving until about an hour later than we’d have liked. A few other times the rain came on strong enough to force us under a tree to wait it out. Combining these with a couple emergency bathroom stops added up to a very slow day.

Around 3pm the thunder and lightning came on pretty strong as well as a solid downpour. We were forced to set up the tent in some trees instead of carrying on over a ridge. A few times it felt like the rain would let up long enough to get a few more hours in but eventually we resigned to the fact that this would be an early night. Not very often have I done this. Hoping for nicer weather tomorrow and a stronger gut. Unfortunately though we’re camping even higher tonight at 11,700 feet.

Today wasn’t all bad though. We saw a bunch of deer, a couple elk in the distance and even the elusive porcupine as well as some fresh bear prints. It was also fun to walk this trail and compare it to June of ‘17 when it was covered with snow and we were hampered with snowshoes.

8/12/19…..CDT Mile 833.9…..25.2 miles

Today was a vast improvement over yesterday. I still have a bit of a sore throat and my head is a little foggy but I think my digestive system is on the other side of whatever I had been dealing with.

We woke up to clear skies and started walking around 6:15, just as the sun was rising. Within 5 minutes of walking we spotted a massive elk with a full rack staring back at us. This was the first of dozens of elk we saw today. Correct me if I’m wrong but I think it’s rutting season because all the males were hanging out together and all the females were hanging out together. Pretty sure mating season is the end of August and I sure hope it’s not hunting season(wearing my hi vis orange hat just in case). We also had a rare pine marten sighting, he or she was hanging out inside a rock cairn and kept popping out of different holes to check us out.

Unlike yesterday we saw other people out here. About halfway through the day we saw a couple of hikers contouring around the same valley coming our way. I said to QB, “I wonder if we know them” and we did. Spontaneous and Sky are hiking south on the Continental Divide and QB met Spontaneous on the PCT in ‘15. They’re currently on a 3rd year of their honeymoon, sounds rad!

In ‘17 we bailed off this section due to snow and followed a river valley into the tiny town of Platoro, CO before walking into South Fork, CO. About 20 miles into today we passed the spot where we bailed and from then on everything was new. I don’t regret that decision in ‘17. We were going significantly slower than anticipated and we were running out of food. Plus I really enjoyed our adventure into Platoro. The trail beyond that spot was easy today but had it been covered in snow it would have been dicey at best and definitely slow going.

Five miles later we found a flat spot to camp above the Canejos River. Carrying on a little further would have been nice but we’d be camping higher up. The altitude is definitely affecting both of us more than we expected. Tonight we’re at 11,300 feet.

8/13/19…..CDT Mile 861.8…..27.9 miles

We were on a bit of a mission today. Originally this section would have consisted of a nice and relaxed pace for 3 days into town but because of the storm on Sunday it threw everything out of whack. We got up and moving by 6 am and had all day to do the miles.

Camping beside a river has its drawbacks, like the fly of the tent was soaked with condensation this morning, but enjoying the sunrise in this valley was incredible as we began walking. It was a tough climb up and out of the valley and at the top I quickly went the wrong way and got my feet wet. The elk had an easier time, they were running along ridges and bugling and all hanging out together(forget what I said about rutting season). We saw a herd of about 50 of them. From the ridge above the valley we contoured around a few beefy peaks and had a couple of snow crossings, one of which was pretty scary and another one where we had to do a controlled glissade.

As we got closer to Elwood Pass, we saw a little more life than usual. There were a couple other day hikers out there and two guys from the forest service looking for and counting big horn sheep(tough job, counting sheep will put you to sleep. I so wish I thought of that joke when I saw them). They saw as many as we did; zero.

From Elwood Pass it felt like we were getting away from the big mountains for a bit and the trail became a little faster. We walked through Wolf Creek Ski Area in the evening and then down to Wolf Creek Pass where we put our thumbs out.

Holly was driving the second car to pass us and she pulled over and pushed all her kayak stuff around to make room. She spent the last 5 days kayaking in Buena Vista, CO and told us about her plan to retire young, live mobile, and paddle and ski all over the place. Sounds fun! Holly brought us down to Pagosa Springs where we got a motel room for the night. We’ve got friends, Garbelly and Critter, joining us here tomorrow and we’ll most likely get back on trail with them the following morning.

Day 62     6/30

Yesterday after leaving the supermarket we ate some noodles at Pho Real(Vietnamese restaurants have the most clever names) and headed towards the free bus back to the trail. On the bus I met Bug Juice who is back home in Colorado while taking a few weeks off from the Pacific Crest Trail waiting for the snow to melt. I guess it’s been a really tough year to hike that trail since the West Coast got pounded with snow this past winter. I never met Bug Juice before but last year he was just ahead of me on the AT and he had a stamp that he used in all the trail registers with his name and avatar on it. It was nice to put a face to the name that I saw so often last year. Check out his blog if you just can’t seem to get enough of this sort of stuff at gobugjuice.com. He carried on to Frisco while QB and I got off at the trailhead and picked up about 9 miles before finding a spot to camp on the side of a ridge with a decent partially obstructed view of the sun setting over the 10 mile range. 

This morning we followed the trail through forest for about 10 miles gradually climbing most of the way on nicely graded switchbacks. These were the last miles that the CDT coincides with the Colorado Trail  and we met lots of southbounding CTers. They’re just starting their hike and are about to get into the first town; Breckinridge. The CT has so much in store for them, they’re so lucky and they don’t even know it, or maybe they do. When we reached Georgia Pass the trail splits and the CDT opens up onto a huge ridge for miles and miles. We had huge expansive views in every direction and climbed up over 13,000 feet for the first time on trail(Elbert and Massive were off trail extracurricular activities). After awhile of ridge walking QB and I took an alternate of our own creation. We took a steep dirt road into a valley and walked through the tiny but awesome town of Montezuma. We then rejoined the CDT and walked for a few miles Argentine Pass Trailhead that leads to Gray’s Peak where we found a place to camp with views of the Argentine Spine.Gray’s and Torrey’s Peaks the beefy Mt GuyotIt’s Hammertime in Montezuma

Day 63     7/1     17 miles

Today is one I won’t soon forget. I woke up to a frozen tent. It might have been the coldest morning of the trail so I figured it would be best to try to sleep in a little since the sun wasn’t yet shining in the valley where we were camped. This ended up being our latest start yet at 7:55 by over an hour(excluding days starting from town). Once we got going we started climbing up a steep narrow path to Argentine Pass. The trail passed 4 icy patches of snow where I put on my micro spikes and carried my ice ax in my hand. They weren’t horrible but definitely a little dicey, one or two worse than the others. We met Little Buddha near one of these snow patches and snacked out with him for awhile before carrying on to the ridge. Once we got to the ridge it seemed like a straight shot to the top of Gray’s Peak but after we summited the 13,817 foot Mt Edwards we got a good view of the Argentine Spine. This thing had super steep cliffs dropping off both sides and the only option was to carefully navigate upwards and forwards along the top of it. I thought it was pretty scary. I did see 5 goats up here including a baby and these animals walk around up here all the time so I knew it couldn’t be too dangerous. The Spine went on for about a mile and we took our time and safely made it to the switchbacks that led to the summit of Gray’s Peak. The summit was packed with people and we enjoyed our lunch up there taking in awesome views in every direction. At something like 14,278 feet this is the high point of the CDT, supposedly it’s all down hill from here. Just across a saddle maybe a mile away is Torrey’s Peak coming in at 3 feet shorter than Gray’s. The trail to Torrey’s summit was steep but clear of any snow or other obstacles so it was a bit of a no brainer to go off trail and hike up and down that one also. Once we got back to the saddle we followed the main trail for a few relaxing miles downhill to a parking lot. While we were eating snacks and drying our gear in the sun some lady asked me if I had any extra water but I could barely hear her over the sound of a raging river 10 feet away. We crushed about 8 more miles this evening going under I-70 and then camped about a mile north of the major highway. We were uphill of the road and could see headlights but the noise was drowned out by flowing water nearby. Gray’s PeakQB walking up to the Spinewe had to walk over and around stuff like thisTom Brady the dastardly Argentine Spinethe view from the top of Gray’s Peakon top of Torrey’s PeakTorrey’s Peak 

Day 64     7/2     20 miles

Today was incredible and very productive even though we had a bit of a slow start this morning. Shortly after breaking camp we ran into Garbelly and Critter who we haven’t seen since the south San Juans and caught up with them for awhile. Then I proceeded to jabber jaw with every day hiker for the first few miles before finally settling into a groove. The trail climbed steeply out of Herman’s Gulch and onto a ridge for about 15 miles. We topped out around 13,200 feet early on and stayed up high outrunning potential weather for most of the day. There was one point where the the winds became super fierce so QB and I ducked below the top of the ridge and let it blow over our heads. It was about 3 minutes of weather, most of the afternoon the clouds were threatening but we only had 3 minutes of heavy winds with a snow/hail/sleet/graupel blend. It cleared quickly and we followed the trail a few more miles down to Rt 40 at Berthoud Pass. We put our thumbs out and after only a couple minutes Jen and her dog Milo scooped us up and brought us to the town of Winter Park, not before seeing a moose on the side of the road though. I haven’t slept inside for a few weeks so after stuffing my face with cheeseburgers and tacos I’ll be enjoying the comforts of a hotel room. QB powering up Herman’s Gulchcheck out my insta for more pictures and even a goat video @endlesspsummer


PS All My Love!!! 

Breckinridge, CO

Day 57     6/25     10 miles

Last night Cheese and Jabba drove down from Denver and met me and Queen B in Leadville. We ate tons of Chinese food before leaving town then headed towards the south trailhead of Mt Elbert to camp. We started on the trail going up Elbert at 7:30 and made a beeline for the summit. The 4 of us are all in good shape and pretty much crushed it straight to the top. When we reached the summit we had a spectacular and unexpected encounter. In February Queen B, Prickly Pear and I met up in the Adirondacks to snowshoe up Mt. Marcy. There we met SoyBoy(AT late 90’s) and he was just beginning his quest to ski the high point of each state. Since then we haven’t had any communication and didn’t connect on social media. I don’t even remember if we told him we’d be hiking the CDT. Anyway QB and I had taken the day off from the trail today to climb the high point of CO and of all people SoyBoy was at the summit just putting his skis on when we got up there. I couldn’t believe it, I recognized him right away and he remembered us too. QB and I had even mentioned him earlier in the day because someone told us they saw a guy carrying skis but neither of us thought it would be him. He had flown in from Maryland just the other day to climb and ski Mt. Elbert for his 5th high point. Unusual coincidences seem to happen to me quite often but this one is kind of mind blowing, I can’t even fathom what the chances are of this encounter. If you want to follow SoyBoy on his journey check out his insta @skithehighpoints. After he skied down the 4 of us spent about 45 minutes on the summit with a ton of other hikers on an absolutely beautiful day. The descent went smoothly and we went into Leadville and pounded pizzas and subs. QB and I had originally planned to get back on trail today but a little nudge to hike Colorado’s second highest peak, Mt Massive, got us going in a different direction. Cheese drove the 4 of us out to the trailhead and we then walked a mile or so to camp with plans of a sunrise summit of Massive. At the trailhead though we got quite a show. The road there goes right through the parking lot and then through a river. Not a little creek, a legit river. As we were packing our stuff for the hike, some nitwit comes bombing towards the river in his old Ford Explorer and we all went running right after him because this was obviously a recipe for disaster. And it was. He was safe and unharmed and everything but the truck was dead in the water and probably won’t be passing inspection anytime soon. Cheese, QB, me, JabbaQB, SoyBoy, and mepose down on the summit with Lotus and Hermes, a couple former PCT thru hikers on a summer long road tripBeen there dude, sorry we didn’t have the means to pull you out 

Day 58     6/26     14 miles 

Cheese, Jabba, Queen B and I were all camped at the end of a gulch at the bottom of a steep trail to the top of Mt Massive. The plan was to wake up at 3 and start hiking shortly thereafter in order to be on top for the 5:40 am sunrise. I couldn’t sleep a wink. I’ve dealt with insomnia my whole life, especially when I have to get up early for something exciting, but I usually sleep pretty well on trail. No big deal, I’d sleep later. At 3am we all began stirring and by 3:20 we started up the steep trail to the top. For awhile it was mostly rocky switchbacks but eventually we lost the trail across a snowfield(even with headlamps) and just continued up to the ridge scrambling carefully on snow and loose rock. There wasn’t much time to screw around so we barely stopped until we got to a spur up on the ridge just minutes before the sun came up. There were incredible views in all directions; huge snow capped mountains and a blanket of undercast clouds most likely full of Care Bears. We carried on along the ridge until we got to the summit and hung out there for about an hour. Nobody else decided to make it up for sunrise so it was just the 4 of us on top of the lower 48’s 3rd highest peak. The descent was much easier than I anticipated because we were able to pick up the trail in the light and sooner than later we were back at Cheese’s truck driving to town.  Queen B and I got dropped off in Twin Lakes and after eating some cheeseburgers got back on trail where we had left off a couple days before. I needed a nap in the worst way so soon after getting back into the woods I found a spot and crashed out for awhile. Around 5:30 I started making moves and picked up about a half dozen miles before crashing out again for the night. QB watching the sun come upPretty solid crew to climb up Colorado’s 2 tallest peaks with mountain beast

Day 59     6/27     31 miles 

Today was rather productive. Nothing too spectacular happened but it just felt like a really solid day of hiking after a full night sleep. For most of the morning the trail cut through a forest with a few good climbs and drops. There was the rare trail magic at the Timberline trailhead parking lot and it was totally appreciated and unexpected. Somebody named Steve left a cooler full of ice cold cokes and gatorades and m&m’s and stuff. Thanks Steve! While we were sipping on these sodas we met Ryder who was camping nearby with her kids. She thru hiked the AT 25 years ago when she was 20 and is considering hiking a long trail again. I really enjoy talking with former thru hikers. They’re the real deal, I can’t imagine doing this without a smart phone. Shortly after lunch the trail passed an alpine lake and I couldn’t resist jumping in for a refreshing dip. The rest of the day the trail went up and down through forests but every once in awhile it opened up and there were huge mountainous views right before my eyes. It was a good day for crushing miles. In the evening we found a campsite beside a meadow with howling coyotes and called it a night. Nothing beats the real thing!colder than it looks

Day 60     6/28     29 miles

Once we got going this morning we proceeded to crush the trail all day. It was no picnic. Early on we passed the creepiest set of abandoned bunkers or cells or something with strange graffiti all over them, and then somebody came by and cleverly corrected the graffiti. Probably good shelter in a storm but I guarantee they’re haunted. I really wish I knew what they were used for, I could probably just google it. After the bunkers we passed this waterfall that I showered in last year but the flow rate was a little heavy today. We then blasted up the beefy Kokomo Pass, followed a ridge over to Searle Pass and dropped down to Copper Mountain Resort where we grabbed some cheeseburgers for a late lunch. I skied here in January and it was cool to walk across the ski trails and under the lifts. The waiter said we must be pretty hungry since we looked like we’d been living in the woods for a week. Thanks buddy! More like 2 months so I guess that’s a compliment. After lunch we had another heavy duty climb as we walked for miles up to the top of 10 Mile Range. We dropped over the top of the range, where Breckinridge Ski area is, and walked a few snowy and scenic miles before finding a place to camp. Cops are Evel Knievel?showered here last year

Day 61    6/29     6 miles so far

I’m sitting in front of the supermarket in Breckinridge right now figuring out my resupply for the next few days and hoping to get back on trail in a few hours. Today has gone pretty well so far. We walked a nice easy 6 miles and caught the free bus into town. We met Drew at the bus stop, a boatbuilder and carpenter, who moved out here to climb mountains and snowboard down them. He offered to let us take showers at his house and that sounded pretty good after 5 or 6 days without one. Crushed breakfast after the shower and now taking care of some errands while in town. I’ll fill you in on the rest of the day in my next post. Feel free to follow me on Insta for more pictures and maybe even a video @endlesspsummer

This lady just looked at me and then I overheard her say to her man, “This place has a lot of homeless.”


PS All My Love!!!