After two and a half months of hiking from the Mexican Border and an absolute killer few weeks over the Colorado Rockies, I was ready for a break and so was Nancy and our new friend Lina. I had arranged to meet my wife Katie for a few days in Breckenridge and Nancy had planned to stay with her friend Beth in Fraser. Lina was invited to stay in Fraser too.
We didn’t realize just how timely our plans were. We’d taken several zero days in Colorado so far, but both of us felt like we just weren’t getting the real muscle recovery we needed. The mountains of this state simply kick butt! And we were kicked.
The reunion with Katie was what I wanted. Hiking a long trail is one of the best adventures I’ve ever had but the downside is I really miss my sweet wife and my daughter Sarah. Sarah’s off at the CAL Forestry Camp, so I wouldn’t get to see her much anyway but I was homesick and I’m so glad Katie was missing me too. Home is where the heart is and that includes our little town of Martinez as well when I’ve been away this long.
We spent time doing nothing but catching up and exploring the resort towns of Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne. They’re all fun and filled with shops and restaurants, anything to get you to leave more money. But it’s understandable. They’re situated in one of the most beautiful mountain settings in America. Hiking, mountain biking and of course skiing in the winter are available everywhere.
I thought we’d do some hiking together but I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was nothing. On our third day, however, we headed out to Rocky Mountain National Park. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and the Continental Divide Trail only skirts the edge of the park, so a driving visit was in order.
The “highway to the sky” built in 1931 through the park is one of the wonders of American scenic driving. It’s right up there with the “going to the sun road” in Glacier National Park, or the Tioga Road in Yosemite. It simply knocks your socks off. It begins in the lush lower forests of the park where moose graze in the wetlands and lakes. Eventually cresting at 12,183 feet, the views are breathtaking in all directions and the tame park animals lounging by the trails are fascinating to watch.
Tundra life in all it’s forms is visible from the road, something I’d been climbing mountains to live with for the past month. It didn’t have the intimacy I feel when I’ve hiked up into the mountains myself, and we weren’t living there, but it was so much fun to be on a road trip together again.
On the way back we went by way of Boulder and saw the start of the fire that raged for days in the mountains outside of town. We’ve been just ahead of a number of fires since hiking out of the Gila in New Mexico and have become used to the smell of smoke when we have no campfire, but this looked too close to a very populated area.
Back in Breckenridge it was more laying about and letting the muscles grow strong again as the next section is one of the most demanding of the entire CDT.
I’d be hiking for several days by myself to Berthoud Pass as Nancy and Lina had gone on ahead so they could catch the next German soccer game at Beth’s condo in Fraser. There are priorities on a long hike, and the World Cup was one of them.
When Katie said goodbye and I headed out on trail I really felt the separation. We were both sad and I could easily have called it quits and just gone home, but I stepped into that aspen forest and looked at the nearby peaks and knew there was still half a continent of mountain ranges waiting for me north of here. I want to know them all by the time I’m through.
"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark."
If you would like to follow our daily journals, Google: Postholer.com/Shroomer, Postholer.com/Nancy or Postholer.com/Dirt Monger. An interactive map of the CDT on the bottom right of our journal pages will show you our current GPS Spot location. View it through Google earth and you can see where we’re camped for that night. You can follow Brooks Wilson’s trail journal at www.brooksmapped.blogspot.com