Day 13 – Tennessee Pass to Leadville

Holy Cross Wilderness
Holy Cross Wilderness

I know it has been awhile since I last posted, and a lot has happened in that time.  But before writing about our more recent adventures I want to conclude my attempt to complete the Colorado Trail.

 

Friday July 24th, 2015

Miles: 17.1

CT Segments: 8,21.9 > 9,13.6

I woke to forebodingly overcast skies, but the temperature was cool which made for good hiking.  To my delight, by piling rocks around my trekking poles, I was able to prevent further damage from salt-hungry chipmunks.  I packed up quickly and was again hiking toward Durango.

Meadow near Tennessee Pass
Meadow near Tennessee Pass

After 3.5 miles, I arrived at Tennessee Pass, spent a few seconds looking at the billboard then pressed onward.  I passed a number of hikers, some thru some just out for the day.  Before long through, the skies opened up to a light sprinkle then a full-on downpour that would persist for the remainder of the day.

According to my guidebook, I should have entered the Holy Cross Wilderness 6.7 miles after Tennessee Pass, but it seems that rain stretches miles and after what seemed an eternity I finally saw the entrance sign and registration box for the wilderness area.  At this point my shoes were beginning to saturate with rain and mud, and my hands were turning white from gripping my cold and wet trekking poles.

Valley in Holy Cross Wilderness
Valley in Holy Cross Wilderness

I really wish I could have enjoyed the Holy Cross Wilderness more in spite of the rain.  Views overlooking a large valley surrounded by peaks were spectacular, but at this point I only wanted to keep hiking and find a dry campsite.  After 6 more gorgeous, but wet, cold and steep miles, I reach the other side of the Wilderness area and tried to call Emmy with a single bar of cell reception.  Neither of us could hear each other so I sent a text message instead.  At this point I was quite uncomfortable.  My shoes were jump-in-a-lake wet, I was cold, my hands and legs hurt and I was convinced that the dreary weather would continue for every remaining day on the trail (which apparently wasn’t far from the truth).  The inclement weather and absence of Emmy took the fun out of hiking the Colorado Trail.  Apart from being stubborn, I saw little reason to continue.

Holy Cross Wilderness
View from Holy Cross Wilderness

I finally reached the Timberline Lake Trailhead near Leadville and tried calling Emmy again to no avail.  I was able to get a text through that said “Toward the end of section 9…cold, wet and mostly miserable.”  She asked “Want me to come get you?”  With a feeling of failure I said “yes”, knowing if at all possible I never wanted to hike in the rain like this again.  I hiked a couple of miles toward Leadville before picking up a hitch.  I huddled in the back of a pickup truck in the cold rain, but was happy to have a ride to avoid walking ten more miles.

Sunset in Leadville
Sunset in Leadville

I waited for Emmy in a bookstore while she drove up from Loveland.  If there was a reward for walking all day through rain, it was the amazing sunset, the sky turned a vibrant shade of orange.  All in all, I hiked nearly 157 miles of the Colorado Trail which in itself is a personal accomplishment.  I felt privileged to see many beautiful and remote areas of Colorado in addition to meeting many nice people along the way.  I really hope to come back and finish the trail someday, I just don’t know when that might be.

For now, Emmy and I are off on another adventure in Alaska.

 

David

2 Comments

  1. Hi David, Congratulations! I bet their were plenty of tough miles in that mileage total. Most people have no idea the determination and strength it takes to claw up and over a high pass when you are physically spent. Through suffering comes enlightenment, but I’m usually just grateful to get it over with and enjoy the view. Susie and I really enjoyed following your journey and we hope you will keep up the posts on all your future adventures. You are a talented writer and we wish you all the best.
    Kaelyn and I spent an enjoyable weekend rock climbing and hiking in the Donner Pass region near Lake Tahoe this weekend. You kids certainly have come a long way since we all first met.
    Michael

    • Michael,
      Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the posts. Posts about our more recent adventures are coming. It’s nice to be able to accomplish normal challenges, and struggle because the hike is difficult, not because of treatment related problems. As you probably know, I also love rock climbing, so it’s great to hear about you and Kaelyn getting out to Donner Pass…tell her hi for me!

      David

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