The air is changing. The energy is changing. The landscape is changing. We are changing. Everything is changing.
Colorado Trail Segment 6 of 28
Start: Kenosha Pass
End: Gold Hill TH
Distance: 32.7 Miles
Segment 6 of the Colorado Trail is where things begin to really change. For us, it is a gateway to the alpine we so love and enjoy the most. Starting at Kenosha Pass, we were, like segment 5, thrust into the aspen trees, after which we found ourselves staring off into the distance as Mt Guyot (13,376′) and Georgia Pass (11,874′) came into view. It was here that we knew changes were coming, and coming quickly. From this point, you sense the trail changing from the foothills of the Front Range to the higher alpine regions soon to come. The creeks seem to grow in size, intensity and cooler temperatures as if not having melted from snow all that long ago. The air becomes drier and crisper. Everything just seems to grow larger and you begin to feel smaller. The vastness of the alpine region has always had that affect on us, an affect we gladly recognize and respect as the wilderness areas of this region become far less human friendly and harsher than those of lower altitudes. When it comes to the mountain regions, it just seems that for every increase in beauty, there is an increase in danger.
Georgia Pass, a little less than halfway through the segment, is the dividing line of true change. Granted the approach, in and of itself, is a testament to this, but once atop Georgia Pass you soon realize all has changed. Going forward is to bid farewell to what you have known and enter into an entirely new region full of new ranges, mountain tops, valleys and the like. In a sense, you pass through a wilderness portal at this stage. The air is changing. The energy is changing. The landscape is changing. We are changing. Everything is changing. Once over the pass, the trail itself merges with the Continental Divide Trail and shares the same path for some 300 miles (if following the Collegiate West route). The name itself provides clues to the new environment entered, Continental Divide.
Our first resupply now only a day or two away in Breckenridge / Frisco. On our way we experience views, wildlife and wildflowers. We could feel our bodies becoming stronger and our minds easing into trail life. It was becoming normal to us to go through our new daily routine of sleeping in the outdoors, filtering water from creeks, surviving with what we had on our backs and hiking mile after mile, day after day. We were comfortable and yet watchful. We retained our respect for the wilderness and carefully treated it as if we were the visitor on gentle earth. Pack it in, pack it out and leave no trace. But even here, in this new found wonderland, we had not yet even begun to experience what would come as we trekked on, deeper and further. We had not even broken the 100 mile mark. There was so much more to come. More remote than we had yet to see.
Our campsites were amazing. We were surrounded by views up, down and all around. There were mountain peaks, valleys, yeah, everything we had imagined. It was all here and we were in it. Rain on the tent at night only aided in our sleep. Fog rolling through the valleys in the mornings, the sunsets painting the skies in the evenings and the wildlife going about their business as if we weren’t even there; an amazing outdoor experience and nothing less. We walked in awe and soaked it all in. A moose, alongside her calf on the trail, catching us off guard was a quick trip back to reality. We stepped to the side and gave way to them. Such a majestic animal with motherly instincts not to be tested. Slowly we went by as not to appear threatening. A sigh of relief and quiet cheer of excitement, our first moose encounter on the Colorado Trail.
Soon enough we would walk out of the wilderness and back into society, but for a short time to resupply, relax and get clean. Once around the last corner before we were to “drop in” to the Breckenridge / Frisco area, we could not only see but hear society and all of its modern trimmings. The food, shower and rest would be good, but only for a short stay. It would be less then 24 hours before we were once again climbing out of the modern world and back into the alpine. We could see our next goal, the Ten Mile Range, from our hotel. It seemed to stretch high into the sky and pull the clouds down on itself. Our imaginations could only begin to conjure the images of what we would see the next morning when we once again set foot on the Colorado Trail.