Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 17: Highway 50 to Ridge Past Silver Creek

After a delicious breakfast at the Patio Pancake Place in Salida, we headed back to the trailhead. Section 15 begins with a road walk, following a one lane dirt road from Highway 50 to the South Foose Creek Trailhead. The dirt road passed through beautiful aspen forest and was not heavily travelled, making the walking pleasant.

From the trailhead we followed Foose Creek up the canyon through forests of aspen, pine, and fir. We stopped briefly in a wildflower strewn meadow for lunch, then continued to climb.

Dark clouds gathered as we crested the Continental Divide and continued on the recombined CDT and Colorado Trail. Our pace slowed as we kept turning in circles to admire the breathtaking views of nearly grassy alpine mountains and more distant blue ridges and mountains as far as the eye could see. Now above treeline, the trail passed through colorful alpine meadows with a bright array of wildflowers. Rockier sections of ground were strewn with glittering white quartz.

We passed a group from the Southern Conservation Alliance hiking in for a nine day trail work project. Each member carried one or two heavy metal tools, such as picks and shovels, in addition to a bulging pack. We thanked them for their service.

We navigated a small maze of Jeep roads near Marshall Pass, then continued to climb. We passed several nice campsites as we neared the Silver Creek junction, but decided to hike on. Unfortunately, camping was scarce for the next mile or so. We eventually found a flat spot nestled in a grove of trees.

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