CDT day 114: the Colorado Trail is a glorious dream

August 26
Mileage: 30
2198.5 miles hiked

I sleep the sleep of a dead person and wake at 7 a.m. feeling groggy and completely rejuventated. Not exactly early but hey, it was worth it.

The CDT is the same as the Colorado Trail for this stretch! That means consistent signage and glorious, PCT style tread. There are even switchbacks. I am in heaven and even though I got a late start I’m able to make good time, climbing 2,500 feet up and over Searle Pass and along Elk Ridge as a thunderstorm brews above me. I hear thunder but don’t see lightning and I’m back below treeline before the worst of it hits.

In the afternoon I’m walking on a bit of dirt road when I see a mama bear and two cubs, strolling casually in my direction without a care in the world. I love that moment before a bear notices me- they just seem so at ease. The mama bear sees me and pauses- she swings her head back and forth, trying to smell. What means me? Then she turns around and begins strolling just as casually in the opposite direction, cubs in tow. Act natural, I imagine her saying to her cubs. As soon as she hits the trees she breaks into a run, sticks breaking beneath her. Run! I imagine her saying. Run as if your life depended on it!

After the initial pass, the elevation profile is gentle and rolling for the rest of the day. And this nice tread! What a glorious break this is. The day is cloudy and cool, and it sprinkles a little and then stops. I pass Colorado Trail hikers, but they’re all northbound so I don’t get to chat for long.

A few miles before camp there is a cooler! Full of sodas! The first trail magic I’ve seen on this trail! Sadly I’m off the sugar wagon for my gut so I just hold open the lid of the cooler and look at the jumbled, shiny cans. Just looking at them makes me happy. Those bright colors, those promises of caffeine…

Camp is in a lush meadow, a stream running through the center of it and mountain ridges on either side. Presently the waxing moon rises and bathes the dark ridges in purple light. I heat water for beans and pitch my tarp. I get to sleep on the ground again out here where it’s peaceful! The good life.

Photos on instagram