The 9 miles to the Molas Lake Campground was fairly easy trail with one moderate climb out of the Animas River valley.
It was nice sleeping in a bit today…6:15 🙂
I strolled down to the Lake City Bakery and figured it must be good based on the line…then I realized to they could only fit three people in the store at a time (it was still good!).
Around 9:15 I hitched a ride back up the mountain to Spring creek Pass. Janet and Mike were a nice older couple who have lived in Lake City for 40yrs., although their little Honda Civic wasn’t breaking any speed records going up Slumgullion Pass they got me to the trailhead safe and sound!
I got to a great campsite around 6:00 and I had enough time to eat and relax before the rain came around 8pm. At 7:30 Albert rolled in (he hitched out of town an hour after me)… unfortunately, he didn’t get his tent setup before the rain.
There weren’t many water sources today and the few there were looked like this…plus lots of cow poop in the vicinity! Luckily, the creek was still running and I was able to fill up just before the mud puddle.
Today was another tough day…6000’ of climbing and 90% was over 11,000’ of elevation. I did get lucky again with the weather: thunder and dark clouds danced around me but somehow I stayed dry.
Home for the night is Hunt Lake. 30 mins after this picture the clouds rolled in and completely obscured the mountains.
Since I’m a bit ahead of schedule, tomorrow will be a short (~9 mile) day to Monarch Pass where I can hitch a ride into Salida for some R&R as well as a shower and laundry.
The climbing started pretty much right out of camp. There was a lot of climbing today but the weather held out even with all of the storm clouds in the vicinity.
Lake Ann just before creating the Pass.
The final approach of Lake Ann Pass with my shadow in foreground. Some years the snowfield can have a tricky cornice to navigate well into late July. This year it was a non factor as the trail skirted just above it.
The view to the West with Taylor Park reservoir in the distance.
The normally elusive Pika held still just long enough for this pic. Not sure why this one obliged …typically they are darting around diving into the rocks.
Storm clouds to the North were getting kind of close.
There are actually two moose in this lake… a couple hundred feet below the trail.
The trail spent a good portion of the afternoon above tree line following the ridge (the Continental Divide).
A family of Marmots.
This was today’s elevation profile. The 7000’ of climb was extra tough since most of it was above 11,000’ (the dark black line) and there were a lot of stretches over 12,000’.
Home for the night at 11,900’.
I slept in today…5:55am! As it was only 5mi to the Twin Lakes General Store and they don’t open til 8:00 (so I thought…actually 9am). I didn’t set my alarm for my normal 5:15 wake up call. Temp were mild in the mid-50’s and it was easy hiking to the store.
Twin Lakes in the background.
A much better view of the lakes.
I think this is Mt Hope.
The free for all of resupply boxes in the storage shed at the general store…luckily mine was still in there! At least they don’t charge anything for the service.
After a couple hours of relaxing at the store, charging batteries and eating ice cream and coke it was time to start climbing up to Hope Pass…definitely the steepest climb so far (4 miles and 3200’ of elevation to an altitude of 12,500’).
My favorite switchback of the hike 🙂
The last view back toward Leadville.
The menacing clouds and sounds of thunder dissipated and the views on the south side of the pass toward the Collegiate Peaks were fantastic.
I finished my day around 6:45 at a great campsite next to a creek.
First thing tomorrow I will make my way up 12,500’ Lake Ann Pass and then the end of the day will keep me above treeline for quite a few miles into the next day. Hopefully the weather holds out again!
The weather forecast had called for afternoon thunderstorms and there was fair amount of thunder but only an occasional drizzle before the sun popped back out. This is the view of Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak and the 2nd highest (~14,450’) in the contiguous US after Mt. Whitney. There is a 3.5mi side trail that will get you there…I skipped it as I’ve done it before, plus an extra 4000’ of climbing didn’t sound terribly appealing at the time.
Today’s miles weren’t easy with the constant up and down but they did seem to tick by without too much extra effort. I managed to roll into camp at the reasonable hour of 6:15 and listened to more thunder roll by from my tent.
Today was a fantastic stretch of trail. Quite a bit of it I’ve done before both in the winter (Janet’s Cabin and the Mitchell Creek ski tour) as well as summer excursions up Guller Creek from copper.
I finished the day just beyond Tennessee Pass near Leadville, CO. After only see three other thru hikers all day there were four other tents set up by the creek I planned to stay at…fortunately there was plenty of room 🙂
One odd part to my morning was finding my trekking poles scattered about the campsite (they had been stashed next to my tent). Looks like a deer found them and decided to gnaw off the straps and the foam grips (salty?). The straps are fairly important for how I use the poles. Luckily, I’ll be arriving in Frisco tomorrow and I have an extra pair stashed in my garage.
Even with 26 miles on the day I had time to hitch 5mi down the highway to the nothing town of Jefferson to get some fries and a milkshake. Can’t believe I forgot to take a pic!