9/12 – 9/14 The next morning we awoke from our “hobo camp” groggy and wary of our neighbors. We quickly packed up and were excited to get a ride straight away. Of course, our eagerness faltered when the driver set off in the opposite direction from where we needed to go and told us he had just kicked methadone.  In the end, though, we got to Monarch Pass and got to chat more with this brave soul who was trying to live life clean for the first time since he was 18. We sincerely hope for his success.

Up on Monarch Pass we were sharing our trail with about 50 mountain bikers who were doing a 125 mile race that had started at 10pm in Salida the night before. It was a bit nerve-racking never knowing when a mountain biker would zoom up from behind, but they were friendly and we managed to not get run over.

During this section the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) also coincided with the Colorado Trail (CT), a hiking/biking trail from Denver to Durango that’s about 500 miles long. Overall it was great when the CT and the CDT were one and the same since the CT was usually better marked and better maintained.  But we constantly had conversations with Coloradans that went something like this:

Colorado local: So, what you two up to?

DnA: We’re hiking the Continental Divide Trail.

Colorado local: Oh, the Colorado Trail! Great! So are you going all the way to Durango?

DnA: Um… well, actually we’re hiking the Continental Divide Trail, not the Colorado Trail, so we’re headed to Mexico.

Colorado local: Wow, Mexico, that’s great! I’ve got a place in Baja.  So when do you think you’ll be finished?

DnA: We’re hoping to finish by Halloween.

Colorado local: Cool, well I’ll see you in Baja this Christmas!

Overall we were pleasantly surprised that for the first time in MILES the trail was easier and we were easily able to do 25+ mile days.  We were traveling through the Cochetopa Hills and La Garita Wilderness.  Sodas hidden for hikers by a local Trail Angel was another bonus. We kept being blown away by the aspens, with their golden leaves glowing like little lanterns in the sunlight.  Bursts of yellow and orange poked out of the rich evergreen backdrop. And the weather continued to be divine… if anything just too hot!

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