CDT Day 130: 18.5 miles / 29.5 km

CDT SOBO: Mile 1935.5 1954.0

Saturday August 24, 2019

Monarch Pass (11,300′) – Marshall Pass (10,900′) – Camp (10,550′)

After packing up Hammer and I walked into town to have breakfast at the Brown Dog Cafe. The historic parts of town looked even more enticing in the early morning sunshine. I would love to come back and explore the town some more. The cafe was busy with friends meeting up before heading out for weekend adventures. It felt so nice, to be amongst locals going about their normal Saturday routine.

We had previously arranged with a local trail angel, Stan to give us a ride to Monarch Pass at 10am. So good not to have to stand on the highway and hitch. We walked though town and along the river after breakfast. The Arkansas River was so clear you could see trout swimming in it. A local man we spoke to mentioned a recent spill from a nearby mine which turned the river chocolate brown. Hard to imagine looking at it today.

Back at the hotel, Stan was right on time. I can’t help but feel incredibly privileged to be helped in such a huge way. In the 40 minutes it took to drive to the Monarch Pass we learnt that Stan has been a Colorado local for nearly 50 years and living in Salida for the last 5 years. Learning that he lived midway between town and the Pass I realised what a huge favour Stan was granting us. It was interesting to learn a little bit about what life is like in this area, particularly the bear stories. We arrived at the Pass, said goodby to Stan and were on trail just before 11am.

We were joined on trail by what felt like a steady stream of mountain bikers. And soon some motorbikes as well. It was Saturday after all. It was fun to be a part of this mass outdoor activity but we soon tired of stepping aside on the narrow trail to let them go by.

Everyone was so nice about it and eventually the steady stream of cyclists slowed and then stopped. The motorbikes on the other hand we saw probably another 4 or 5 times as they rode loops on the trails. We were commenting on how strange that there were no trail runners and soon there were, two women ran past us going in the opposite direction.

The trail was mostly rocky underfoot and slippery on the down hills. Very hard on feet. It was not overly scenic in terms of distant landscape and lacked any interesting vegetation. The strong wind between the two passes added to the rocky barren look of our immediate surroundings.

The two trail runners caught up to us on their return to Marshall Pass. They walked with us for some time and so we met ultra endurance athletes Cindy and Liz. They were training for 100 mile races in Idaho and Washington State respectively. And Cindy ran the Beaverhead 100 which we passed back in Montana in early July. They have run many of the ultra races we were were familiar with including the Hardrock 100 and Western States. Very impressive.

As they continued on their run Cindy mentioned leaving some trail magic by her car when we get to Marshall Pass. Woo hoo, the trail scenery may not be that interesting but trail magic happens.

When we got to the Pass, they had left us 2 beers, chips and some cold grapes. Even though we were a day out of a town stop it was very welcomed. We waited till we reached a campsite to have the beers with dinner watching a beautiful sunset. What a nice way to end the day.