Up before my 3 AM alarm, I didn't get a wink of sleep last night. Thinking about everything that has transpired and what lay ahead - my mind was racing. I was exhausted mentally and physically. But as weird as it may seem, I didn't have to think about what I was doing anymore, everything was automatic. My shins were holding up (thanks -in part- to the painful ice bath) and the energy from the crew started to grow as we got closer to Denver.
|Setting the SPOT|
Matt and I loaded up the truck around 3:45 and headed to the Timberline TH just a quarter of mile down the road. At 3:55 we set off with a full moon as our beacon. For the next hour and 5 minutes was banked time into day 6. My original schedule had me starting from Tennessee Pass today so I was still 13 myles behind the plan. Just like most days, we started off with a climb, this one was 1500 ft over the next 4 myles. By the time 5 AM came around to officially start day 7, I had only gone 3 myles, meaning I was still 10 myles behind schedule. It was great having Matt back on the trail with nonstop conversation about this adventure from different perspectives. When he wasn't with me on the trail, he was helping the crew out with logistics and made the comment "It's much easier being out here on the trail..." No doubt. All I had to do was to get from A to B. The crew had to risk driving with weary minds, organize logistics, and prepare food.
|Timberline TH about to begin with Matt Trappe|
|Holy Cross Wilderness just after sunrise|
|One of the nice bridges along the way|
|A little blurry but the two backpackers insisted on taking our picture|
|Rick greeting me at Tennessee Pass|
Down the railroad grade paralleling Hwy 24, we were running side by side on the double track. It was clear with the chatter that I was buzzing with energy. I wouldn't call it one of those euphoric running spurts, but we were running and everything else around was a blur. Double track turned into single track and this trail started curving away from Hwy 24 back to the 10th Mountain Division Huts. I made a comment that this didn't seem right because we should be making our way back to Hwy 24 and cross over to Camp Hale. We kept going, the trail kept looping back around, and finally I knew this trail wasn't right. Matt had his cell phone and looked up our location on Google Maps... sure enough we were way off. Matt ran back toward the double track -probably just over a mile- and located where we went wrong. It was an older CT blaze but clear as day. I was pissed! More-so because we had been making good time for the last few myles and all that time was lost - 45 minutes and a couple myles out of our way. I became silent and processed what had just happened. At the same time, Matt was good about verbalizing reality "we can't do anything about it. It's over and just need to move forward" Words of simple wisdom. It was my own mistake for not paying attention and with Matt's words, I let it go, at least I tried to.
|Focused and trying to move forward|
|The 7th day and a little smile. All better.|
Soon enough, we arrived at the Hwy 24 crossing with a very familiar -and unique- vehicle sitting on the side of the road at a pull out. No mistaking this green VW Westfalia - it was the Kunz'! They were on their way to their scheduled event when they decided to turn the bus around and continue on this adventure. Rob jumped out and said "Do you mind if Sylvia goes with you for the next section?" I was a little perplexed but Rob put it in perspective "what you are doing here is far more amazing and we want to help you as much as possible". I was blown away. Twenty minutes ago I was pissed off and now I felt ashamed. Even though the anger I felt was towards myself and never let it be known, I felt like that negative energy replaced all of the gratitude I should be feeling towards everyone. Poof! It was gone when the Kunz' once again joined the caravan and Sylvia brought her positivity as we made our way to Camp Hale and then further to Copper Mountain.
|Through Camp Hale on our way to Kokomo Pass|
Four myles and 2500 feet to get to Kokomo pass. I felt solid on the climb, and if I remember correct, we got to the pass in an hour and 15 minutes (3.2 MPH). My climbing ability gave me confidence for what lay ahead but once at the pass I felt dizzy and a little out of sorts. I remember very vividly eating a huge brownie with frosting to cure the dizziness. Oh man, it tasted sooo good but it hit my gut like a lead weight as we made our way to Searle Pass. I once again entered a food coma. At the time I didn't know what was happening because I was dizzy and couldn't stay awake. I finally sat down on the side of the trail and could not move for about 10 minutes. I should of stuck to my standards of EFS liquid shot, Justin's nut butter, and Peter Rabbit fruit and veggie liquified packs. I finally got moving and soon arrived at Searle Pass as the clouds were thickening with lightning and thunder cracking really close. We stopped to put on the rain gear -quickly- and were on our way down to Copper Mountain. Within minutes it was pouring and the lighting was striking very, very close - scary stuff. That was enough to get me out of my food coma and enter into a euphoric running spurt.
|Pulling into the Copper Mountain parking lot|
|Myles greeting me|
|Most memorable moment of the Colorado Trail|
|Atop Ten Mile range right before it started to rain|
We made it into the trees, and for the moment, the rain had stopped as we turned on our headlamps. It didn't last. Within 10 minutes it started back again and I was still soaked from the first round. We were in trouble, better yet, I was trouble as I started to shiver. I needed a miracle and got it from a lone mountain biker who had set up camp and made a fire right next to the trail. He invited us in to huddle around his fire and I cannot tell you what a flame does to the soul. We spent 5 or 10 minutes, not totally dry or warm, and were on our way with a little pep in our step. Before we left I gave that guy some cookies, Justin's almond nut butter, and some other goodies for igniting our soul to which he was ecstatic.
|What had happened to our friend - the Sun?|
Finally the lights from our crew vehicles came into view and were once again circled up at Gold Hill. As soon as they saw our headlamps, they all started honking and cheering. We had made it! Once there, people got out to greet us -briefly- as we were whisked away to the warm and dry RV. I sensed concern as they saw how soaked we were and the ten mile stare in my eyes. It was 9:45 PM and the rain was coming down in sheets at this point so I did not want to go the additional 5 myles as suggested earlier. As I scarfed down my food with dry clothes on we quickly discussed the timeline. If I were to keep going that night I should have arrived at the next access around 12:30 AM and then the North Fork of the Swan River at 3 AM. I couldn't do it. My drive and will power were crushed and decided I needed a few hours to get warm and refuel. We came to the decision that I would be on back on the trail at 2 AM with Rob and hopefully the storm would pass. I finally got horizontal at 11:30 PM and set my alarm for 1 AM. The night before I hadn't slept and tonight, if I'm lucky, I'd pass out for an hour. This would turn out to be the last time I get horizontal in the RV. A total of 6 days 16 hours and 45 minutes to this point. A little over 100 myles and 44 hours to break the record.
Myles: 51.8 (380.7)
Time: 17h 50m (118h 9m)
Elevation: 9,867 (73,711)
Myles to go: 105.1