Continental Divide Trail – Day 39
June 9, 2023
Miles Today/ Total: 9.2 / 709.6
Despite trying I couldn’t sleep past 6:30 this morning. I got up and took a shower and started packing up all my gear. I took my time and checked out of the motel at 8:00.
I have reservations to ride the steam locomotive back to Cumbres Pass where I can start back on the trail where I got off on Tuesday. I got to the train station and picked up my ticket about 8:30. Boarding time is 9:30, so I walked up the street to a coffee shop and bought a danish and a coffee. I ate on their porch and then headed back to the train station.
We boarded the train and it wasn’t very full today so there was plenty of seating room. This is a real coal fired steam locomotive and it travels between 12 & 22 mph. The trip up to the pass was very pretty and it was cool to hear the train chugging up the incline. In places there were large loops to keep the grade consistent for the train. It passed by huge cliffs and expansive meadows as it made it way up the mountains.
Uncle and I were the only two hikers on the train and we got off when the train stopped at Cumbres Pass to fill up with water. It was a short walk to the trailhead and we visited with a trail angel there for a few minutes before heading up the trail.
The trail started off with snow drifts covering parts of the trail. As it climbed higher there was more snow in the forested areas and once again it took some navigating to work my way over the snow and stay on the trail. The trail reached the top of a mountain and then turned to partially descend on the north side. The steep slope was completely covered in snow and I could see steps where previous hikers had crossed. I put on my crampons and got out my ice axe before venturing out on the slope. I moved across very slow being deliberate with each step. It was probably about 200 yards across the slope, but it felt like it went on forever. I reached the other side relieved and feeling a little more confident.
The trail continued around and went through several other snow covered areas, but none as steep as that first one. Some of the completely snow covered areas were almost flat. I reached a valley that had some large snow free areas and decided to stop and make camp for the night. Looking ahead all I could see was snow.
I setup my tent, cooked dinner and ate inside to escape the cold wind that came up as evening came. I’m camping at 11,500’ so I’m sure it will be a cold night.