September 2, 2013
Boswell Gulch to Cow Creek
Today started with a bang. Right from the get go the trail took off uphill like a homesick angel toward Hope Pass. Having been up Hope pass once before you would have thought I knew what I was in for, but the memory of painful ups and downs fade more quickly than pleasant memories. It's about a 3,000-3,500' climb and then descent on either side, and the grade is not gentle.
The last time I went over Hope Pass I was heading the opposite direction while helping to pace a friend during the Leadville 100 mile trail run. This friend, Matt Urbanski, also happens to be hiking the CDT this year with his wife Julie. My second experience with Hope Pass made it pretty clear that I have no desire to run the Leadville 100. Not only do the runners go over Hope Pass, they do it TWICE. Talk about crazy. Matt finished the Leadville race in under 24 hours, thereby garnering one of the BIG belt buckles that are awarded to finishers. A smaller belt buckle is awarded to those who finish under 30 hours.
Later on in the day as I was starting the climb up my second 12,500'+ pass for the day I came across a group of hikers. They were from the Buena Vista and Salida areas just out for the day. After telling them where I was headed I got a high five and one of the ladies even took a video of me explaining what I'm doing to show her class when she returns to teach this fall. When asked if I got lonely on the trail I said that it can be, but interactions and conversations with folks such as themselves helped add to the social capital I carry with me.
It ended up being a nice day for hiking, no thunderstorms to contend with, so I was able to hike until sunset. I still have about 41 miles to go to get to Monarch Pass, so I won't make it tomorrow in time to pick up my package, but may aim to get close enough that I can roll in at 8am when they open the following day. Another awesome day in Colorado!