CDT Day 118: 27 miles /43 km

CDT SOBO: Mile 1695.5 – 1722.0

Monday August 12, 2019

Mt Flora (13,100ft) – Berthoud Pass (11,300ft) – Stanley Mt (12,500ft) – Mt Nystrom (12,650ft ) – Summit (13,200ft)

Despite the sunny breaks late yesterday afternoon the rain returned all through the night. As we broke camp in the dark, stars were visible in the sky and we had hopes for a warm sunny day.

As we rose up and out of the trees the sunrise revealed a crystal clear blue sky. Amazing, what difference a day makes. We could see Mt Flora in the distance, her top still shrouded in low hanging fog. A cold wind was blowing but it didn’t matter, the sun was shining.

The trail up towards Mt Flora passed through a huge tallus field. Marmots were out whistling to each other. We were fresh and made good time rising towards the top of the mountain.

Mt Flora looks like it may have held a glacier in the past with a cirque lake at its base. When we reached the top there were people up there already. With such a clear sky we had 360° views of the neverending chain of mountains in all directions.

On the descent we passed dozens of day hikers heading up to the summit. After our lonely and miserable afternoon yesterday, it was good to see so many people outdoors enjoying the scenery and the great weather.

We descended to Berthoud Pass which was even busier with busloads of visitors out to see the Continental Divide.

The trail on the other side of the Pass, towards Mt Stanley was also busy. By the time we reached the summit we had left all of the day hikers behind and did not see another person for the rest of the day.

Just after the summit of Mt Stanley we saw a huge mine down in the valley. The noise from it sounded like a jet engine strapped to the ground. The mountain top in the back looked like it was being eaten by the mine. We didn’t know when we first saw it that we would be walking around it at elevation for the rest of the day.

The afternoon hiking was incredibly pleasant despite the ups and downs. We spent most of the afternoon on an undulating ridge with fantastic views of neverending mountain ranges, and of course the mine which kept popping into view.

We hiked down off the ridge a little way and stopped to camp just on sunset. It was a most beautiful sight to see the setting sun illuminating the mountain tops. One of the few sunsets I’ve seen on trail. The moon was almost full and as the sun disappeared it looked as if the lights were left on.

We had an amazingly great day, despite the large elevation losses and gains. Amazing what a difference a day makes.