Continental Divide Trail – Day 33 (31 miles)
I set off down the trail just a bit before @clean_sweep. It was a lovely morning with yesterday’s smoke haze gone. It was also a bit brisk, but that is to be expected when camping above 11,000ft (3,300m). We looked over the maps last night and thought that the terrain looked flat for the first 20 odd miles. I was a bit wrong, there were no major climbs but there were a lot of small and steep things the whole time. These turned out to be far more tiring at this elevation and definitely caused some burning leg muscles.
I spent most of the morning walking along ridges directly on the Continental Divide. It was incredibly beautiful and I spent the morning soaking in the huge valleys on either side of me. I just had so many interesting things to look at.
It is also my first experience of being directly on the divide with no water. It gave me a choice of walking off the divide or pushing on a bit longer before breaking to the next stream. I was a bit parched when I finally arrived at the stream and gobbled up the crystal clear mountain water.
After rehydrating and refuelling, CS and I headed for one of the renowned sections of the trail, The Knife’s Edge. It is a traverse along a very steep mountainside with loose rock, it is also a north-facing slope that retains snow late into the season. Hikers often drop down into the valley to avoid it. Lucky for us that it is an extremely low snow year and only had 30ft (10m) of snow hanging onto the trail. It was extremely beautiful though.
Colorado so far seems to grade the big climbs well but goes straight up for the shorter stuff.
The smoke from the Silverton fire also decided to join us. It was on the worse side of ok. But it did tint the landscape orange and made for an unusual colour scheme as the sun went down.
I convinced CS to pull up half a mile early in order to stay in the trees and not camp in the cold meadow. I was a bit more tired than usual and was happy to be in bed. I’m not sure if it was the steep stuff early in the day, the altitude, or I’m just not fully recovered from the virus the other day. I’m glad to be back on trail though.