Day 157- October 19, 2019

October 19, 2019

Day 157

Dry Camp to Finish Line (Battle Pass)

18 miles

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A Beautifully Brutal Finish

We woke up motivated to knock out the last 18 miles of our CDT hike. We forced our beat up feet into our frozen shoes for the last time and hit the trail by 7:30.

We hurdled over snow covered blowdowns and made our way to Hog Park Rd, where running water and tire tracks made for a nice few miles. The road didn’t last long though, and we got back on trail at the Huston Park Wilderness Boundary.

A few tracks were in the snow but we were route finding for the first few miles, desperately searching for the next cairn with a wooden post marking the trail. Snow covered trees made the post that much more difficult to locate, and the whipping wind added to the intensity, blowing snow from the trees and obscuring our view.

At our last break we had five miles until the trail met HWY 70 at Battle Pass. Cold and ready for this fantastic hike to be over, we choked down a Snickers and set off at a quick clip. The snow and murky grasslands didn’t slow us down and before we knew it we had one mile to go. 

A part of us wanted that last mile to last forever. We found each other in the wilderness and it will always be home for us. 

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We were elated when we got to Battle Pass. We jumped up and down, hugged, and reveled in our accomplishment. Nearly 3,000 miles hiked! With frozen feet, ice chunks stuck to the bottoms of our frozen pants, and the wind picking up, we quickly set our sights on getting a ride into Encampment, WY. 

We hadn’t seen in a car pass us since we got to the pass and were a little worried about our chances of getting into town. Just then a truck passed, slowed down and picked us up! We got into Encampment by 5:00! We booked the last cabin the town had for rent and ate our celebratory meal at the Bear Trap. 

It has been a wonderfully challenging hike. We met incredible, lifelong friends. We pushed ourselves at times and at other times took the easier route. We couldn’t have completed the entire trail without all of the support and help from our family. So many long drives were made to aid us in making sure we could finish the trail. Thank you!

Next up for us: Thailand! We are heading to a Thailand in a few weeks for our honeymoon. Scuba diving, jungle, and street food here we come!

Day 156- October 18, 2019

October 18, 2019

Day 156

Trail Creek to Dry Camp

15 Miles 

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A dash for the border

We will look to a winter wonderland, although it really wasn’t so wondrous at all in fact it was more of a winter hell scape. The snow is piled up between five and 10 inches, and there wasn’t any broken trail in sight, so we knew it was going to be a tough push to the Wyoming state line.

Needless to say, it was difficult to get out of the tent, but we had an accurate weather report from our GPS, and we knew that by 11 the chance of snow would drop to 10%. So we waited it out, and just as forecasted, the snow let up, so we mobilized.

Before too long on the trail, ATV tracks miraculously appeared, and quite literally pave the way for us to the border. Without the vehicles having packed down the snow, it would have taken us at least twice as long to make our way through the fresh powder.

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We took a quick break at the only spot we could find with dry ground void of snow. It’s so great to have the sunshine down momentarily, and it felt that much worse when it dipped behind the dark wisps of clouds.

After our break we pushed for the Wyoming border. About a mile and a half from the state line the ATV tracks we so coveted went in a different direction and we were left to trudge through the uncharted snow. 

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We made it to Wyoming at 5:00 and celebrated with pictures and a little whiskey. Eager to make the most of the last hour or so of daylight left, we left Colorado behind and began the grueling task of navigating the numerous blowdowns that sprinkled the snow covered ground. Shins were smashed against limbs and cries of pain echoed in the trees. It was a rough few miles before we made camp where we once again will be melting snow for our water.

 We are 18 miles from HWY 70 where our CDT hike ends. We’re cold and tired but excited for our last day on this awesome trail. 

 

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Day 155-October 17, 2019

October 17, 2019

Day 155

Frozen Lake to Trail Creek

23 miles

 

Warm Before the Storm

We woke up early and sipped coffee as we watched the gorgeous sunrise turn from blood orange to deep red to eventually a warm yellow. 

Sunrise from the tent

Sunrise from the tent

We climbed up to a ridge that was covered in snow. With the wind blowing at a decent clip and the sometimes two foot snow drifts, the first 7 miles were hard to come by. Soon after though the trail began to drop, as did the frequency of snow. By our first break we were sitting on dry ground basking in the warm sun.

The trail continued its decent further down a valley and by lunch we were at 8,000 feet, the lowest we have been in 500 miles. It was so warm! 

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We came across numerous hunters. It was silly to think today could be a day we would see no one (6 days into open rifle season-ha!).

Further from the roads, we still had solitude. In fact, cope saw a group of five Bighorn, and Trailbride saw three Ptarmigan. 

Can you spot the big horn?

Can you spot the big horn?

How bout Ptarmigans?

How bout Ptarmigans?

We left the Mt Zirkel wilderness and the Wyoming Trail (CDT) detoured onto a road. A sign at the junction informed us that the bridge was out on the trail. Not wanting to relive the Gila and ford a waist-deep river, we opted for the short detour.

We climbed up to our protected campsite in the trees. Snow is expected in the early morning, so we made sure to pitch the tent well. We are 13 miles from Wyoming and 36 miles from the finish! 

 

 

 

Day 154- October 16, 2019

October 16, 2019

Day 154

Fish Creek to Frozen Lake

20.8 miles

 

Kicking Snow All Day

It was another cold start, and we were in snow right from the get go. We can hardly remember what it’s like to have warm and dry feet. Our shoes are barely holding together, which makes walking through the snow even worse as the snow gets inside the toebox . 

Bloody nose at Zirkel Wilderness

Bloody nose at Zirkel Wilderness

We had a lot of climbing to do today, which kept us warm. The snow gets worse as we gain elevation, and we were doing a lot of postholing today, where the snow was up to 2 feet deep. This loader progress somewhat, but we made pretty good time not withstanding. We saw more hunters today, but just one group of three, and other than that we haven’t seen a soul. In fact, there’s hardly any footprints left in the snow as it’s melted down a little bit over the past several days. We’re currently in the Mt Zirkel Wilderness, and it’s been beautiful. We saw grouse, and several elk, including one big bull, which would’ve been a dream kill with Buffalo Pass only a couple miles away. Mental note for another elk season. 

We planned camp at a lake that was just down from the top of the climb, but when we finally got there it was an ice rink.  Trailbride walked out on it and was scooting around. So, we had to melt snow again for drinking water and to cook dinner. Only 36 miles to the Wyoming border!

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Day 153- October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019

Day 153

Dry camp to Fish Creek

14 Miles

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Last Town Stop: Steamboat Springs 

We got on trail quickly this morning, hoping to pop in and out of Steamboat Springs and still make a few miles towards Encampment, WY, our finish line. The ten miles flew by and before we knew it we were at HWY 14. 

Very few cars were heading in the direction we needed to go and after about 30 we decided to hitch into Walden and miss out on the CDT package the Steamboat Springs chamber of commerce hands out. Just as we made that decision a red Tahoe slammed on its breaks and reversed down the road to pick us up. The nice woman took us to the doors of the chamber of commerce. Excited for free CDT socks, stingers, and a discount at the local hot springs, we charged inside. No dice. They had run out. The women working there felt bad so she gave us the rest of the stingers they had. 

With a handful of snacks we walked across the street to McDonalds to charge our electronics. Cope went resupply shopping and we were back on the road with our thumbs out within a couple of hours.

We hitched a ride from a guy who works in town but camps on public land because it’s too expensive to live in Steamboat. He took us almost all the way to the pass so we stuck our thumbs out again. We were quickly picked up by hunters who had just bagged an elk. The drove us further than they needed to and then offered us some of their meat. Sadly, we declined, having no good way to cook it and not wanting the extra weight.

We hiked 4 miles and set up camp at Fish Creek. Less than 100 miles to go!