CDT Day 127: 23.5 miles /37.5 km

CDT SOBO: Mile 1891.5 -1915.0

Wednesday August 21, 2019

Camp (11,500ft) – Cottonwood Pass (12,150ft) – Tincup Pass (11,070ft) – Camp (11,800ft)

Renewed and energised by a good nights sleep we completed the rest of the climb to Cottonwood Pass in the predawn light. The sky was a blanket of stars with the moon high up in the sky, it looked like another perfect weather day would unfold.

The climb up to Cottonwood Pass was relatively easy compared to the first half which we did late yesterday. Just as we neared the top the rising sun peaked over the mountains. And for the first time on a high pass there was no wind. It was sublime. We crossed the Pass and started our way across the ridge.

It was a glorious morning hiking up and around ridgetops in brilliant sunshine. The vantage point towards the valley below looked so different to yesterday. We passed two groups of section hikers heading back to the pass. You know it’s a good section coming up when you pass section hikers. Wildflowers were a riot as we dropped over to the east side of the ridge. The most prolific Columbines I’ve seen so far. And in so many different shades of purple. I couldn’t resist taking way too many photos. The wildflowers were extraordinarily beautiful in this section.

As we walked around base of the mountains dark clouds started to gather. A thunderstorm was predicted for today, so we stopped for an early lunch, hoping the clouds would blow away. The sound of gunshot fire echoed through the valley behind us as we ate lunch.

The trail wound it’s way up and down over four passes. By the time we headed up the 4th pass for the day the thunder and lightening had started in the distance behind us. We continued up the pass hoping it would skirt around. Of all passes we went over today, this was the most difficult, it was steep with switchbacks that had steep steps to go up and over.

We made the Pass and the thunderstorm stayed behind us. We got lucky today. We were elated by the time we started the descent to Tincup Pass. We were in the clear. At the pass we met up with a southbound CDT hiker from the Netherlands, her name was Diesel. We hiked with her up from the Pass she stayed to camp early and we continued on for another couple of hours. The thunderstorms swirled around but we managed to get to camp without getting wet. The pine forest we descended to was almost completely destroyed by pine beetle. The first we’ve since since starting in Colorado.