START: Grand Lake
FINISH: Tennessee Pass/Leadville
DISTANCE: 105 miles (168.9 km)
DAILY AVERAGE: 35 miles (56.3 km)
TOTAL DISTANCE: 1593 miles (2563.1 km)
Lynz: The highlight of this section was not any particular view or wildlife sighting, but instead the opportunity to catch up with a dear friend whom I last saw in Lhasa, Tibet back in 2006. Lynz was kind enough to drive up from Boulder to meet me, and we spent a wonderful four hours catching up on the past six years. No amount of emails or phone conversations can ever take the place of seeing an old friend in person.
The Divide: Between Grand Lake and Silverthorne much of the CDT follows the actual Divide. Gorgeous views, lots of ascent and descent, the occasional scramble and easy navigation. Very windy at times. Crossed over James Peak, which at just over 13000 feet is the highest point (I think) on the CDT.
Trail Magic: A big thanks to Mark and his hunting mates at Bobtail Creek for the box of chocolate/muesli bars……..perfect timing as my food supplies had pretty much expired and I still had a little more than half a day to go before reaching Silverthorne. There was even more trail magic at Tennessee Pass courtesy of the Leadville Hostel, a wonderful place to stay when overnighting in the historical town of the same name.
Timing: Bedding down on an exposed windswept ridge above 12,000 feet is not high on my list of ‘things I like to do in the backcountry’. The CDT has many stretches of trail which stay above tree line for lengthy periods of time. One of the biggest tips I can give to future CDT hikers is to plan ahead when it comes to campsites. At days end you do not want to find yourself stuck above tree line, six or seven miles short of a potentially sheltered camping spot.
Weather: The arrival of a low pressure system translated to more precipitation and quite a bit of snow above 11,500 feet. This change in conditions, combined with additional opportunities to fatten up at various eateries along the way, made the decision to take the bike path route from Silverthorne to Copper Mountain a bit of a no-brainer. From the latter location, the CDT combines with the Colorado trail for much of the next couple of hundred miles. Should translate to better marked and maintained pathways.