Day 60: June 22, 2019
Destination: Leadville, CO
Today’s Miles: 0
Start Location: Leadville, CO
Trip Miles: 971.8
Life is full of choices. It’s important for me to remember that there is only one path - the one that I find myself on now.
It is not right or wrong, not good or bad, and not comparable with an imaginary path that I have not taken. That has been something I have had to remind myself of a number of times on this hike in particular. Others have had to remind me as well!
I had breakfast at the hostel today and set about looking at maps. I didn’t make a lot of progress last night as I was so tired. It was snowing outside. Yep, welcome to the first day of summer! Leadville has the distinction of being the highest town in the US at over 10,000 feet. It would snow off and on during the day and night. It made me wonder how much snow was accumulating at higher elevations. I had heard reports of up to another foot farther north, especially around Steamboat Springs.
I went to the barbecue festival to try some of the local meats. It was pretty good, but I’m from the southeast where barbecue is kind of a religion, so it honestly couldn’t compare with back home. I went to the post office and got my box with my ice axe and spikes and some other stuff in it. I also stopped by a store called Melanzana. Melanzana is known for its fleeces. They are all handmade at the store in Leadville (you can watch people in the back sewing them), and I guess they are popular because of their high quality. They are soft and apparently dry super fast, breathe really well, etc. I hadn’t heard of them, but a friend of mine wanted one, and so I stopped at the store to pick one up. They are so popular that you pretty much have to go to Leadville to get one. They can hardly keep any inventory. Fortunately I found what my friend wanted, albeit the third color in the color choice pecking order.
I saw Penguin at the store and chatted with her for a bit. Interestingly, she and her hiking partner had made it down the mountain slope that I turned away from back before Buena Vista. She said they had found a way to just go down and it wasn’t that bad - they had just followed Guthook. It makes me wonder if maybe I was off trail a bit. I thought I had followed Guthook at first, but sometimes the GPS locator isn’t always spot on accurate, so maybe I just thought I was. Anyway, it’s water under the bridge now. Whatever path I tried to take wasn’t safe for me to do based on my judgement, especially alone.
I hunkered down and hashed out my options at The Abbey. I came up with these:
Hike the CDT north and do the high routes.
Take a road alternate bike route west and north to Steamboat Springs.
Hike north to Frisco and flip to Canada to hike the rest of the trail southbound.
Hike north to Frisco, flip up to Lander and hike south through the rest of CO, then head back to Lander and go north to finish.
#1. Just continuing on the CDT is problematic because I am hiking alone and can’t team up with folks at the current time. I also don’t really want to be traumatized by having to do dangerous stuff. The snow needs to melt a bit more to bring it down to my comfort level.
#2. I’m tired of extra road walking. I also don’t know what kind of scenery is on this route, and since it is not on my maps and I found it online and pieces together the roads it follows, I have no information on water availability. In some ways this seems worse than taking a scarier high route.
#3. This makes a lot of sense because the logistics are simple and Glacier National Park near the northern terminus had a normal snow year. Two things bug me though: I wouldn’t be able to start at the monument at the northern terminus and the end of the hike would be anti-climatic. Right now south bounders are starting at an alternate called Chief Mountain due to trail conditions on the main Waterton route.
#4. This option is a little annoying because it involves the most logistics - a double flip. It buys me some time for snow to melt, and also would have me ascending the north faces of mountains where there is more snow, rather than descending. Going down is always harder for me.... This option does allow me to keep hiking in the Wyoming basin while snow melts in Colorado and the Wind River Range. It also allows me to finish my hike in Canada, hopefully at the monument (fires and early winter are always a risk).
As I prepare for bed I’m leaning towards option 4. Frisco has a Greyhound station, so I would just take that bus to Rawlins and hitch to Lander, WY. Option 4 feels the best in my gut, even though there are more logistics. I’m going to sleep on it and decide tomorrow. It’s still snowing outside. It’s not sticking here, but I’m sure it is in the mountains....