9/6 – After a breakfast of peach pie, we set off to the Elbert trailhead in Claire’s car. We had decided to slackpack Elbert, the highest mountain in Colorado and the highest mountain on the Continential Divide in the lower 48. The trail started off as a nice climb through pine trees. We even saw Don’t Panic & Wing It, who slowed down to hike and chat with us for a while before powering on. Everything was great until we got above treeline.
At that point we entered the windtunnel of death. The wind was exhasting and freezing. The water in my camelback got icy and my nose was in danger of being blown off my face. The trail was steep, rocky, washed out and awful. Since it was Labor Day Monday hordes of people were out, death marching towards the top. When we found a shelterd spot for a break we did enjoy the view of distant Leadville and Twin Lakes below, but when I arrived at the top of the 14,440 foot peak, I took only a cursory look around before cuddling up next to half a dozen strangers who were jammed into the slight refuge a rock wall provided from the wind. We didn’t even have the energy to stand up against the wind for photos.
When at last we had slipped and scrambled back into the trees we were astonished at the powerful warmth the sun’s rays granted. At the bottom we picniced on more peach pie and some other snacks, then scoped out a campsite where we set up our tent and left our stuff. Then we drove back to Turquoise Lake, where we’d left off hiking yesterday, to hike the 12 miles back to our tent. (Yes, it may sound absurd but it’s all about doing a continuous hike from Canada to Mexico). That was also the sad hour where we bid farwell to Claire and Casey. That night we felt forlorn and dejected without C&C… it had been a phenominal two days.