CDT Day 144: 27.6 miles /44.2 km
CDT SOBO: Mile 2197.0 – 2224.6
Saturday September 7, 2019
Camp (11,650′) – Mt Pass (12,300′) – Cumbres Pass (9,970′) – Camp (10,450′)
The sound of rain falling on the tent woke me this morning. A hot drink later and we were ready to face whatever the day brings. Hammer woke up full of beans and ready to finish Colorado today. We broke camp and hiked away in our wet, wet weather gear with soaking wet shoes and socks.
The air temperature was mild, and we were grateful that the rain stopped long enough for us to pack up. And as we hiked in the darkness the rain had stopped completely. There was little wind which made all the difference. As it started to get light it was a very pleasant morning, despite our wet feet.
By the time we finished the climb of the mountain pass it was light but it will be sometime before we see sunshine. As we rounded the top of the pass I realised that this was our last 12,000ft + mountain traverse. For the next couple of hours we hiked along a rocky plateau amongst volcanic rocks and huge slabs of rock with evidence of glacial scraping. So exciting, the geological history of the southern end of the Rockies was all around us.
The sun came out for a little while. From there we descended to a lake valley before climbing back out to a large tarn shelf. The numerous lakes on this shelf were at various stages of drying out. We stopped at one lake to get water and have lunch as it looks like water will become a little bit more scarce as we head south.
And while we were having lunch it started to rain, just a little. No thunderstorms were predicted for today. So it was a relief to watch the darker clouds skirting around us.
From the tarn shelf we had one short climb and then it was a long descent to Cumbres Pass. We were almost done with Colorado. The views of the lush green valley surrounded by eroded mountain peaks to our right was pretty spectacular. It was nice to be so close to finishing this state.
About 3 miles before Cumbres Pass we were descending towards Wolf Creek when we came upon a dead elk right on the trail. Surprised to see a whole animal as we know that it is elk hunting season now. I passed around it downslope and Hammer went upslope. It was huge, partly because it was bloated. Hammer saw that its head had been removed, sawn clean off. I was relieved not to see that gruesome sight. For the rest of the afternoon I found the thought of it quite disturbing.
We went through Cumbres Pass and it felt like Colorado should be finishing here. But it was another 3 miles of uphill hiking to the border. Shadows were beginning to grow long and it was hard to find a spot to camp as we were ascending quite a steep slope. It was dark by the time we found a campsite. We were about a quarter of a mile short of the Colorado/New Mexico border.