Dyer and Riches: CDT Thru-Hikers

Fourth of July

July 9, 2000—Day 69, 1134 Miles—Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado— It seems so long since Monarch Pass I can hardly recall what's happened since then.

Oh yeah, a boot repair saga turned our rest day into a couple of rest days. What seemed like a simple patch up job turned into a 2.5-day delay.

Spent our first night in a hut/cabin a few miles out of Monarch Pass. It was quite a treat to have a blazing fire to sleep by. The dryness and fire restrictions have meant no campfires for us for the whole trip so far.

We encountered plenty of motor-powered recreationists in the section between the ghost town of Hancock and Mirror Lake, where we shared the trail with dirt bikes, quad bikes and SUVs (4WDs, utes, etc.). How easy they covered the miles, at least until they came to Tincup Pass, where one clever fella had managed to prevent all wheel-mounted, motorized traffic from passing after getting his luxury SUV stuck, half hanging over the edge while the other half blocked the trail. We felt proud of our choice of transport, and had a chuckle to ourselves as we strolled past the mountain-top traffic jam.

Caught up to our old buddy Seven Grain again and hiked together for a couple of days. Then he decided it would be more fun to hike with his girlfriend rather than us. That boy has gotta get his priorities right!

We stopped off in Leadville, the highest city in the US at 10,200 feet of elevation, for supplies and a rest day. I left town with more than I bargained for. A scrumptious Mexican dinner left me with a nice dose of food poisoning (I think) that crippled me for a couple of days and made the hiking slow and tiresome for a few more.

We had planned to spend Independence Day (July 4th) in Winter Park, but the boot delay and the food poisoning had put us a couple of days behind schedule. It looked like we'd end up in no-mans land and miss the cultural experience of July 4th celebration, so we took an alternate route after Breckenridge and made it to Winter Park in the late afternoon on the 4th. Part of our alternate route followed the divide itself from Loveland Pass to Berthoud Pass. The trailless parts turned out to be some of the most satisfying hiking we'd done. Getting a ride into Winter Park was surprisingly easy and we found ourselves being driven straight to a keg party/BBQ where we spend most of the night celebrating the USA's independence from the Poms. A particularly nice custom to be enjoyed on July 4th is the swallowing of red, white, and blue jello shooters. Part of tradition our hosts claimed. We slept well that night!

After Winter Park another fantastic, semi-trailless section followed between Berthoud Pass and Rollins Pass. A string of 13,000 peaks make it a fairly strenuous but very rewarding hike, or climb as Simon once breathlessly remarked as he reached the top of a particularly steep rocky section.

Today we took a day off the usual northerly hiking and spent the day in Rocky Mountain National Park. Very liberating to be a couple of light-footed daytrippers as we'd left one of our packs in Grand Lake.

Next stop Steamboat Springs.

Check out Simon and Darryl's reflections on New Mexico.


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