Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Breaking Up


Since I last posted here I've only done my laundry once, but still, I know it has been a long time.  I haven't posted here, not because I had stopped blogging or because I had fallen behind (indeed, I'm rather pleased with myself for how up to date I've stayed), but because I've decided to switch what site hosts my blog.  Blogger is not very moble app friendly and I am tired of its limitations. I was tired of them last year on the PCT but over the winter I forgot about its short comings.

While in Silverthorne I set up a blog at Wordpress. I spent the next few towns getting to know the Wordpress app and figuring out its oddities--it has many, but it does what I'm looking for in a blogging app.

So, to get the next 60 or so days of hiking, change your bookmarks and update your blogrolls to: castlehikes.wordpress.com

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 76- Forget Me Knot

We had camped just under four miles away from Copper Mountain--a ski resort.  Bo got up early with the plan to get breakfast at the mountain.  We thought that sounded like a pretty good idea and left camp not long after Bo.  We arrived too early--everything was closed.  Instead of killing time for an hour we just hiked on--our real goal was to get into Silverthron by night. 
After walking through Copper Mountain and crossing I-70 (which could have taken us all the way to the AT in Maryland) the trail climbed upwards.  We passed a boyscout group spread out along the climb.  I felt a bit like a celebrity when they boggled at the idea of hiking from Mexico. 
The climb up was a long one, but it only had a little bit of snow on the south side.  This alpine forget-me-knots were growing everywhere at the top of the pass.  I've been seeing them since the northern San Jauns and just love them. 
The north side of the mountain was a fair bit snowier.  We had been doing really good time wise, but the snow brought our miles per hour to a crawl.  Suddenly town seemed really far away. 
At one point the trail turned into a pond. I had wet feet, so I could have just stomped through, but I went around. 
Just before the last climb of the day--we still had eight miles of downhill straight into town to do.  It was getting late, but we kept pressing onwards.  We ended up walking into town at 7 p.m.  We had decided sometime during the day's hike to take a zero--apparently its been awhile since we took one and that took some of the pressure off. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day 75- Catching Up

Our campsite had a slightly better view than this last night.  It was fantastic.  That is Mount Massive, Colorado's second highest peak with the town of Leadville before it.  We watched the full moon come up, cross the sky in the night, and disappear behind Massive as the sun light up the sky. 
After a mediocre breakfast in town we left Leadville.  The hitch was easier enough and we were back on trail around 11:30.  We had high hopes of catching up with Team All Dead and Bo, but it seemed unlikely.  All the southbounders we talked to told us they were at least an hour ahead of us. 
Just before leaving tree line to climb up to a pass a storm that had been building all afternoon let loose.  It graupled and thundered and we took a break in the trees.  It was still bleak when we left shelter and hiked up and over Kocomo Pass.  Instead of going down after the pass the trail stayed high and the weather stayed gray and wet.  Team All Dead was nowhere to be seen.  We were above treeline for five miles before we took a short cut down.  We came out right at this cabin.  These locked cabins are such a disappointment--they make me feel so excluded.  We didn't even check the door, we just pushed onwards.  A few miles later, just when I was thinking of telling Portrait that I had reached my limit for the day we spied a camper in the trees.  I didn't recognize him, but Portrait did.  It was Bo.  We settled in and had dinner.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 74- Not All Dead

We ended our first day of summer at this small lake the night before--completely exhausted, but pleased with our sunrise day.  We woke 10.5 miles outside of the town of Leadville.  I was determined to make it into town before the post office closed for the weekend.  We started hiking early (although not as early as the day before) and hiked fast. 
Besides talking to southbound CT'ers we didn't take any breaks...until we came across this swing.  I couldn't pass it up.  We sat and swung for a bit, and while I was anxious to get to the road and start hitching it was the mosquitoes that pushed us onward.
We made it to the road just before 11 o'clock.  Not bad, but the real test was the hitch.  Things started to seem a little bleak as it got closer to 11:30, but our luck won out.  Our ride took us straight to the post office.  We got our mail and swapped some items in the bounce box before the post office closed.  We settled in at the hostel--which was booked with a church group but they had a campsite for us, and then we went to find Team All Dead and Bo at their hotel.  We hung out for hours...and I didn't blog a word.  It was great to catch up--worth the extra computer time I'll be spending in Silverthorn. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 73-Summer Solstice

We both slept horriably.  Just like when climbing San Luis we decided to cowboy camp so we could get a quicker start, but because it was so hot during the day it never cooled off at night so the mosquito never quiet.  Portrait didn't think he slept for more than an hour, and I kept waking up and asking if it was time to get up.  We left camp just after midnight for the three mile hike to the top.  Once we were out of the trees the moon was big and bright enough to light our way and we didn't need our headlamps.  We lost the trail when it went into a snow patch, but found it again on the other side with the help of the GPS.  It was clear that we were going to get to the summit much too early, but there wasn't anything we could do about that in the wind on the exposed mountain. 
The sun coming up.  We watched from a wind break built from rocks just below the summit.  We passed the dark hours in our sleeping bags.  I snuggled deep into mine and even managed a pre-sunrise nap. 
Looking out over the wind break wall at the rockies. 
Sunrise on the summit.  The longest day of the year welcomed from the highest peak in the state.
Looking north from the summit--I hadn't seen the view when we reached the top at 3:20 a.m.
On the way down we passed a parade of people coming up.  There had to be a least 50 people coming up the mountain.  Many were surprised to see us already coming down.
Look close and you might spot the marmot in the picture (He's kind of in the middle, with snow behind him and a pointed rock to the left of him).  He was watching the never ending stream of people pass by on the trail.  We ended up hiking many more miles, but nothing I saw compared to the beauty on top of Mount Elbert. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 72-Hope Pass and Twin Lakes

In the morning we continued on the same dirt road from the evening before.  We passed many people out enjoying the lovely summer weather. 
The trail went trhough the old town of Winfield.  It was another mining town that went belly up after the silver boom ended. 
The old school house and another of the log buildings had been turned into a museum, but neither were open when we passed through. 
At the top of Hope Pass we met a guy out day hiking the Colorado Trail.  He took our picture (with his camera) and I asked him to take one with mine before the wind blow us off. 
Twin Lakes and the town of Twin Lakes was visible from the pass.  We had heard yesterday from a CDT'er hiking a section southbound that a fire had sprung up just outside of Twin Lakes.  He said when he went over Hope Pass he could see smoke, but the view for us was clear. 
We hadn't planned on going into Twin Lakes, eventhough it is within sight of the trail, but I may have mentioned to Portrait that if we did go in we could drink cold sodas.  Just like that the plan changed. 
Thankfully we didn't have to ford this river.  There was a slightly longer route that took us across a bridge (a bridge that had a locked gate at the far end--we climbed over it.  I guess that's how we do things on the CDT).  Then it was down to the general store for our sodas. 
Portrait checking out the Mount Elbert information at the trail head.  Mount Elbert is the tallest mountain in Colorado and the second tallest in the continental U.S.(Mount Whitney in CA near the PCT being the tallest in the continental U.S.)  We had been talking all day about a summer solstice sunrise summit and a couple more miles would put us in the perfect place to camp.
The Mount Elbert trail and the CDT split off from each other.  We started up Mount Elbert...but only a couple of miles.  We didn't want to camp above treeline. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 71-Ice Mountain

We have found ourselves behind a large clump of hikers--every southbound CT'er or weekend hiker we meet tell us they saw 15 of us the day before.  Most of the time when we've come across a cooler (which isn't that often) it's empty so imagine our surprise when we found a lone soda in a shopping bag at a trailhead.  Portrait and I were only too happy to share it. 
We were walking down Cottonwood Pass road and I was telling Portrait the story of the first moose I'd ever seen (on the way to Baxter State Park in Maine to start my AT hike in '07) and somehow, walking down the road, I happened to notice this moose across this marshy field.  (I'm thinking of changing the blog's name to Castle's Blog of far away Animal Photos).  We watched her munch on moss for awhile while the mosquitoes munched on us. 
I though about going swimming at this lake, and almost went swimming in the next one we came too, but decided that while it was hot enough for a dip, the wind coming off the water would have made swimming unpleasant.  
The climb up to Ice Mountain Pass was a nice one, but snow was waiting for us at the top. 
This is looking south at the trail.
And this is looking north.  With careful steps we navigated the snow field. 
It wasn't anything scary until we had to downclimb off the snow and onto loose rocks.  They were worst than the snow.
Looking south at the snow covering the pass and the trail below us.  That much snow made for slow going. 
The nearly full moon

Once down from the pass we found ourselves on a dirt road that had a couple dozen choice campsites lining it.  We snagged this one under the umbrella of this pine.