Ridge, valley and bike path

9/2 – Stiff and sleepy we roused ourselves from our tent to find we were completely enveloped in a cloud. We were at the top of James Peak and couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of us.  It didn’t seem like the ridge walk was going to afford us any views, but as we set off–face freezing, snot dripping–the clouds began to race by, giving us glimpses of the Loch Lomand and other lakes below. It was a celestial moment… sun bursting through the autobahn-racing clouds to create a clubbing scene complete with strobe light and dry ice.  The discoteca intensity faded as the clouds thinned out, but the ridge walk around Mt Barcroft, Parry and Flora remained impressive.

That morning we said goodbye to RT, who was headed to visit a friend, and continued from Berthoud Pass.  The trail took us up to mountain passes, included more ridge walking and then dipped low into valleys only to rise up to the ridge again. When we were sheltered from the wind the sun beat down upon us with intensity in the dead air. But as soon as we emerged from our haven, the warmth of the sun’s rays was blow away by the wind.  It was the same story the next day (9/3), as we hiked in the Williams Fork Mountains and Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness, to emerge above Dillon and Silverthorn and the great blue waters of the Dillon Reservoir.

I’d been listening to The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan on my ipod so of course the first thing we did when we arrived into Silverthorn was go to a fast food place.  Yes, we ate corn in many variations from Wendy’s. I know it’s bad. But at least we didn’t eat any meat and unfortunately junk food is often the best way to consume the high calories our bodies need right now.  There we ran into Don’t Panic and Wing It… they were actually ahead of us but had taken advantage of the free buses to take a rest day in Silverthorn. It was great catching up with them before hitting the bike path.

walking the bike path

There IS actual trail from Silverthorn to Copper Mountain, but we’d opted to walk on the bike path instead since it was a) shorter and b) gave us the opportunity to enjoy town food at 3 locations – Silverthorn, Frisco and Copper Mountain. It was actually really nice… yes it follows the highway but most of it is along the Dillon Reservoir and the town of Frisco is lovely. It has a great downtown area with lots of local shops and restaurants and has a huge network of trails – paved, dirt, etc. Plus it’s near Breckenridge & Copper Mountain ski resorts…. We definitely put Frisco on our list of town to come back to and further explore.  But that night we had more miles to put in, walking in the starlight before finding a campsite along the path.

9/4 we joined up with the Colorado Trail and our navigation issues disappeared. We had a glorious well-worn, well-signposted trail with bridges over even small creeklets. Ahh! There were also lots of other hikers and mountain bikers using the trail. We camped a few miles from Tennessee Pass, near Camp Hale, an old WWII training base.

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