WEEK 9 - 10 ON THE CDT - THE BENNETT FAMILY ("KIDS OUT WILD")
6/8 Tuesday, day 57–We started hitching into Salida at 9am and were fortunate enough to have an easy time. A nice couple from Lake City picked up Muir, Honey Badger, and I first. They know our friends Betty and Grant who work at Castle Lakes Campground! It was fun to visit with them. Adam, Amazon, Ladybug and Turtle caught a ride with a guy from Boulder who works for Honda. We all met at the Walmart and my friend, Renee, and her husband, Anthony, came to get us. We went to their house and enjoyed a great visit, nice hot showers and laundry! Anthony took Adam and I to Walmart and Natural Grocers to get our resupply and solved Honey Badger’s shoe problem by giving her a pair of his Altras! Unbelievably helpful and generous! Then they dropped us off at the trailhead for the Colorado Trail. We’ve decided to take the low road for this section again to avoid the deep snow. We met Freebird again and he had some great advice for the safest route for us to take. Guthook miles = 1, my watch = 16,560 steps and 7.5 miles. Camped at CT mile 233.1
6/9 Wednesday, day 58 We left our lovely camp near Cree Creek at 7am. We got passed by a hiker named Solo shortly thereafter (we briefly met him outside of South Fork last week). He’s a soft spoken gentle soul from Butte, MT. We spent most the day walking around the base of Mt. Shavano and Tabaguache Peak. Both are 14ers, named after chiefs of the Tabaguache band of Utes. We passed through the Angel of Shavano campground (got to throw away trash, yeah!) which is named after an angel shaped snow formation on Mt. Shavano’s eastern flank, visible each spring. The informational sign at the trailhead (from which I gleaned all this knowledge) said, “One legend claims that the snow represents an Indian princess who, during severe drought, knelt and prayed for rain. Her tears, in the form of melting snow, provide valuable moisture to the Arkansas Valley below.” Reminds us of the legend of Mt. Timpanogos in Utah! At lunch, Freebird entertained us with his bear encounters (he saw an all white Spirit Bear near Stehekin, WA!). He’s on his way to Twin Lakes to meet up with another legendary hiker named Billy Goat (who is training here in CO for a bit, then going to finish up a section of the PCT, which will complete his 10th PCT thru hike and his 5th Triple Crown! He is 82!). We are loving the views and wildflowers on the trail right now (and the lack of blowdowns and snow!) The Colorado Trail is so well maintained and BEAUTIFUL! Guthook = 20.8 miles, my watch = 22.5 miles. Camped in the free Bootleg campground (flat tent spots, privy, picnic tables, and a bear box!) at mile 253.9.
6/10 Thursday, day 59–We didn’t leave camp until 7:30 because I knew Honey Badger’s feet are sore and we only had a 15-ish mile day. We passed by the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort and decided to get pizza from their convenience store. Unfortunately, it was an hour and a half delay...but the pizza was delicious! It was a hot, exposed road walk from there but we found a nice, cold creek to have lunch next to just after noon. Great views today! We hike around Mt. Antero. The informational sign at the trailhead said: “At an elevation of 14,269ft, this mountain officially contains the highest concentration of gem specimens found in North America. This mineral rich “fourteener” has yielded an abundance of aquamarine, topaz, and quartz crystals.” We didn’t find any tho. Just when we needed it most, we found a perfect spot to camp, at mile CT 269.7. Guthook = 15.8 miles, my watch = 42,885 steps and 19.43 miles.
6/11 Friday, day 60– Big day! We were up at 5:30 to make it out of camp by 6:30 so we could start the big climb early. Today we did 5,533ft of ascent and 4,468ft of decent! Whew! Guthook miles = 18.8, my watch = 52,179 steps, 23.5 miles, 203 flights climbed. Camped at CT mile 288.5.
6/12 Saturday, day 61–When we woke this morning next to Pine Creek there was frost on our tents and it was SO cold. Our elevation was 10,400. We started the day with a climb to 11,600. When we were ready to stop for lunch, we found Freebird in a shady aspen grove and joined him. He talked to us about hiking the Te Arora (he was the first one to start that trail after it was completed and is friends with the trail planner). There was a magical moment at lunch when a happy, curious, little hummingbird came to visit. Muir barked at it as it flew to each member of our party to check us out. The bird flew behind Muir, as if to tease him, and we all laughed! Made it to Twin Lakes by 4, the kids and I soaked feet/swam. Adam pushed on because his feet hurt are really hurting him. We met at the river ford. Turtle and Adam made it safely across but it was sketchy. The rest of us tried and decided the 3 mile walk to the bridge was a better idea. The owner of the Twin Lakes General Store gave Adam a hiker discount, but it was still $38 for our hotdog dinner. The mountain views from this are are incredible! We can see: Quall Mountain, Mount Hope, Rinker Peak, Parry Peak, Mount Cosgriff, and Mount Elbert (Colorado’s high point). It was an amazing sunset with the alpenglow all around those peaks! After dark, we stealth camped near the visitor center, along with Powerhouse, Iron Will, Freebird and Raven. Guthook miles = 18.5 (on the CT and CDT) plus 4 miles into town (my watch died mid-day).
6/13-19 days 62-68 zeros 😬
Poor Adam’s feet were killing him when we got into Twin Lakes so we took Sunday and Monday off so he could rest. We had a great camp site right on Twin Lakes that we shared with two other CDT thru-hikers, Library and Overdue. The trail is beautiful, and the adventure is unparalleled, but the people we are meeting along the way is the very best part! We stealth camped near Turquoise Lake and needed a ride into town Tuesday to meet up with my grandparents (we are taking a few days off in hopes that Adam’s feet will heal up). Tyler, a local firefighter, had just finished up an early morning paddle boarding session when he saw our circus trying to get a hitch. He pulled over his sweet EuroVan, moved his paddle board from inside to the roof, and drove us into town. So cool to visit with him and hear about his job and his family’s experiences living in Leadville. The day before, Matt, stopped as he was running through town to ask if he could be our trail angel and give us a ride. He shuttled all of us in his Subaru, in two trips, to the lake so we could camp for free! That morning, Danny picked up all 7 of us and drove us from Twin Lakes to Leadville (and told us about her experience on the Via Alpina thru-hike in Europe...now that is on our bucket list). The day before that, my daughter and I caught a ride to Safeway in a Transit van with an awesome couple, and then the sweetest 80-year old lady named Hazel brought us back to the trail with our groceries. A few hours before that, I was in line for burritos, visiting with a couple about what my family was doing out here. While they were placing their order, I slipped out of line (deciding to get breakfast at Safeway instead). I passed by the woman a few minutes later and she said, “Where did you go?! My boyfriend was going to pay for your burritos!” So much kindness!! We passed a hiker a few days ago and after chatting for a bit she said “travel kind!” and hiked on. That phrase has stuck with me. We are meeting so many great people who really know how to be generous and kind as they travel through life!❤️
Taking days off to visit family was a treasure! We ate, played games, ate, sat in the hot tub, ate, shopped, ate, did laundry, ate, repaired gear, and ate some more! 😁
6/20–Sunday, day 69–After a blissful week off trail, visiting family, eating all the things, hot showers, temperature controlled environments, and other luxuries we were concerned about a loss of trail legs. Not so concerned tho, because we decided to go ahead and attempt a summit of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak. While passing through Leadville, we stopped to visit with Doggone and Taxi Lady. We gave them two of Gram’s famous cinnamon rolls and wished Doggone a happy Father’s Day. They offered to hold on to three days worth of our food! We will just call Taxi Lady when we get to Turquoise Lake and she will bring it to us! Awesome!! We hiked about 3.5 miles from where Gram&Pop dropped us and found a spot to camp about 4.5 miles from the summit. Hopefully we can wake up early and make good time up and over 🤞🏻.
6/21 Monday, day 70–We took a side trip off the CDT to summit Mt Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak. If you ever attempt a summit here, we highly recommend the new south trail, it is SO much nicer than the older northern approach trail. We climbed up the south trail and descended on the north. There were a lot of climbers, we felt really badly for the ones scrambling up the north side! Poor Kaia worked up some big blisters on her heals from her new shoes. Fortunately, Leuko tape and lambs wool helped a lot.
Guthook miles = 11.24, my watch = 22.06 miles, 48,695 steps, 139 flights climbed. Camped at Guthook mile 1157