I spent the weekend with the family in (and around) Salida and Gunnison scouting out the Colorado Trail. I wanted to make sure the logistics in my head worked out, give the access points a visual, and run parts of the sections I hadn't seen - basically a dry run of the adventure.
Since Jaxon was out of school on Friday we headed out to Breckenridge on Thursday and stayed the night. My intention was to hit the trail at 6 A.M. to simulate the adventure itself. The first morning I started segment 7 @ 6:38 A.M., a little later than expected but it was cold and raining so it caused me to wait for a little more light. This segment goes from Breckenridge over to Copper Mountain via the Ten Mile Range (12,500 ft). With all the recent bear activity on the news I was a little nervous venturing out and sure enough I had my first encounter, not with a bear but a Mama and baby moose. Stopped me in my tracks and looked for the nearest, biggest tree. I thought for sure I was gonna have a Meltzer experience. Thank goodness I scared the mama more than she scared me and ran off. Pretty much the only encounter with wildlife for the weekend. I gave myself 4 hours to meet Nicole at the convenience store near Copper Mountain just in case I went off trail or something. I made it over to Copper in 3 hours so I decided to do a few extra myles on Segment 8. Total: 18 myles, 4.11:04
We then headed to Leadville to experience the hoopla with the Leadville mtn bike race and Lance Armstrong in town. I have never seen so many people in Leadville before! We met Bill Dooper for coffee and then skipped outta town, headed to Salida for the night. Along the way we scoped out the stopping points at Clear Creek and Mt. Princeton hot springs, making sure there were plenty of camping sites close by. The next morning we headed up to the access point of segment 15 on Hwy 50. I started the day @ 6:50 and gave myself 3 hours to go the 15 myles up to Marshall Pass. Of all the sections I have done on the Colorado Trail, this section has to be the prettiest. It has a mixture of meandering meadows with lush green vegetation underneath the canopy of trees along with views at the top of the Continental Divide. Total: 15 myles, 3.07:34
After leaving Marshall pass we headed down Hwy 285 to Saguache to scope out the access point on Hwy 114. This trek was longer than I thought, about 85 myles from Poncha Springs to the access point. We hiked a bit on segment 18 to get feel for it and then proceeded around Hwy 114 back to Hwy 50 near Gunnison. We stayed the night in Gunnison where I had THEE best Mexican food money can buy, a place called Fiesta Juchitlan. It's on main street and a must if you go through Gunnison. While I'm on the subject of food and beverage I'll tell you about a another place that's worth the drive, Amica brewery in Salida has THEE best chili beer I have ever tasted! I'm normally an IPA guy but I like to try new beer, especially craft beers. You can't go wrong with the chili beer at Amica (and the wood fire pizza).
So at the end of the weekend I got a taste of everything that makes me tick; time with the family, running in the mountains, good Mexican food, and good craft beer. And it wouldn't be complete without an adventure getting home - right? On the way home I was going to show Nicole where she would meet me at the end of day one at Long's Gulch but as we got to Fairplay a sign said that the road was closed 30 myles ahead due to an accident. We elected to take an alternate route over Hwy 9 into Breckenridge and then cut across to Keystone to make it back to I-70... backed up too! We kinda knew it would be as the weekend traffic was coming home so we stopped at Beau Jo's to wait it out. Come to find out there was another accident up ahead from a drunk driver hitting a bicyclist and dragging him on the road - tragic! We eventually made it home around 6 PM, approximately 7.5 hours from Gunnison. On the news last night they said that Hwy 285 was closed until 8 P.M., showing cars and people strung out for dozens of myles on the road - good thing we took the short-long cut...