The wind was calm, the clouds growing, but the window of opportunity remained. It was almost as if we had been invited for this personal journey across this heavenly place far from any city and high above all else.
Colorado Trail Segment 8 of 28
Start: Copper Mountain
End: Tennessee Pass TH
Distance: 25.4 Miles
From the modern comforts of Copper Mountain, to the tundra of high mountain passes and back down into relaxed lazy valleys, segment 8 of the Colorado Trail has a little bit of everything for every hiker. Where else can you grab a cappuccino and be on trail within minutes? Oh yes we did, and it was an amazing cappuccino at that. We got a ride on the free bus from Frisco back over to Copper Mountain and followed the detour through the village to get to the trail. All it took was one small whiff of fresh coffee and we were on our way into a shop to order. Back on trail we found ourselves hiking under ski lifts and walking across skin runs as we made our way out of Copper Mountain. You might think, they had us detour through the shopping district, a trap for any hungry hiker, so the least they could do is give us a ride on one of those lifts to the top of the climb. Yeah, we kept walking and climbing, not a hard task with all that caffeine coursing through our veins!
As we drifted further and further away from civilization, we began a mild climb up a valley full of wildflowers and a healthy flowing Guller Creek. Passing a well designed beaver dam, another avalanche debris field and on up the valley nearing treeline to Janet’s Cabin and the headwaters of Guller Creek. What a beautiful valley, so full of life. This was to be our planned stop for the day, but it was early, the weather was good and we were ready to get in some more miles. We filtered water and filled our bottles for the long trek across the high tundra. Breaking treeline, we came up on Searle Pass (12,043′) and looked out across the high alpine expanse towards Elk Ridge (12,282′) and Kokomo Pass(12,023′). The weather was holding in our favor, a good thing because it would be almost five miles of very exposed terrain before we would be back under treeline. We were in heaven, or at the very least a little closer to it. The high open alpine is an amazing place. One should walk gently here, stay on trail and respect the weather.
We were back to “trail reality” as we moved across the high terrain. There would be no where to run if the weather turned. We made quick progress and yet wanted to soak it all in. The wildflowers just seemed to expand in all directions as the snow gently melted across the high bench we were navigating across. There was water everywhere, fresh from the snowfields only feet away. We continued, listening to the marmots and pikas whistle and chirp. The wind was calm, the clouds growing, but the window of opportunity remained. It was almost as if we had been invited for this personal journey across this heavenly place far from any city and high above all else. The trail lead on and the clouds remained at bay as if calling us to move forward with peace of mind. Tread lightly, enjoy your walk and leave no evidence your were ever here. This was our time, our experience, alone on top of the world.
After reaching treeline again, we were thankful for a alpine journey and gave thanks for safe passage. It was time to make camp, have dinner and soak in the memories of the day. The next morning was cool, damp and cloudy. It didn’t last long, as the sun warmed everything just enough to be comfortable. We were losing track of time now after being on trail day in and day out; it seemed as if time had stopped. The days, weeks, month and even the clock had left us. If not for a watch we carried, we might have forgotten altogether. We had made extra miles again, were ahead of schedule and slowly dropping to lower terrain into a very lazy and relaxing valley. We walked in peace and enjoyed the lack of a mechanized world. Coming upon Camp Hale, a historic bunker built in 1942, we were thrust back into the world of machines and man as our thoughts drifted to the wars of times past. Now in ruins, Camp Hale is a reminder of what man can accomplish, both positively and negatively. It’s a strange place to happen upon, but it’s there. We moved on, out of the valley and back into the forests. Time slipped away again as we hiked on to finish segment 8.