CDT Day 123: 26 miles / 42 km
CDT SOBO: Mile 1796.0 – 1822.0
Saturday August 17, 2019
Camp (10,000 ft) – Searle Pass (12,000 ft) – Corbett Peak (12,050ft) – Elk Ridge (12,300 ft) – Kokymo Pass (12,000ft) -East Fork Eagle River (9,300 ft) – Highway 24 (9,950ft) – Tennessee Pass (10,500ft) – Nth Fork W Tennessee River (10,400ft)
It was a very cold start this morning, we started under a clear blue sky and a full moon. It was so cold I think my lips were turning blue. We crossed several ski runs as we started to climb out of the valley. Not a breath of wind ruffled the trees. It was simply beautiful hiking as we headed up the Guller Creek valley towards Searle Pass. The sun rise at our back was beautiful and warming. The full moon was slow to disappear in the western sky. It got bigger as we got closer to the pass before it fully disappeared over the horizon.
Half way up we passed 3 southbound CT hikers. Luke, Silent Hill and Durango had camped there. The surrounding vegetation looked frosty, so it must have even colder to camp here here. Silent Hill was suffering from altitude sickness and was going to go into Leadville today for a break. We had had really wanted to see Leadville but it’s a bit out of our way. Before reaching Searle Pass we passed 4 other CT hikers. By the time we stopped for lunch we were passed by a few mountain bike riders and trail runners. What a wonderful day to be out here.
We reached Searle Pass around 9am and stopped to have breakfast. Getting over the Pass was the hardest part of the day and it was behind us now. From here we had a few short uphill sections around Corbett Peak and Elk Ridge. The views back from the pass were of an incredibly verdant valley dropping down towards Copper Mountain village.
The other side of the pas was equally spectacular even with an enormous mine in the distance. It was beautiful hiking conditions. Even the section over Elk Ridge was not so windy.
From Kokymo Pass the landscape changed. We had a long descent through trail lined by the most incredibly dense wildflowers. It looks like the snow was only recently gone.
Once off the mountain we were in a wide river valley following the E Fork Eagle River. It was windy in the valley and had a hit more activity about.
We passed a curious structure that looked like a wall of the front of prison cells. Hammer said he remembered reading about this being the site of special forces training during the WWII. Surprised there wasn’t any historic markers.
The rest of the afternoon was pretty easy hiking where the trail was above Highway 24 for some time. The trail conditions were excellent which made for easy hiking. A brief rain shower accompanied us to Tennessee Pass Trailhead. The rain did not last.
We stopped to camp by North Fork West Tennessee Creek. Mosquitoes were very active. It has been some time since we’ve had so many about.
It is getting noticeably dark early now. It feels like summer is slipping away before we’ve even had it.