Thursday, June 26, 2014
Day 17: Highway 24 to Copper Mountain
After a final meal at the Golden Burro, Jeff took us back to the trailhead. We meandered through the trees before arriving at Camp Hale, a former military training center. Rows of bleak military bunkers lined the grassy meadow. Rude graffiti defaced the crumbling cement walls, showing disrespect to a place that should be preserved as a memorial to those who served our country there.
The clouds slowly gathered as we began our climb to Kokomo Pass. Although we crossed a few snowfields on the climb, the trail was mostly dry. Kokomo Pass was also snow free. Colorful wildflowers dotted the rocky meadow on top of the pass.
A long snowy traverse separated Kokomo Pass from Elk Ridge, and the high traverse to Searle Pass was also covered with large, wet snowfields. We sloshed our way through a knee-deep snow slurpee, then squished our way through thick mud, then climbed back onto the snow, slowly working our way across the snowy ridge.
Mischievous marmots greeted us at Searle Pass, chirping loudly and boldly begging for food. Marmots lurked behind every rock, scampering effortlessly over even the slushiest snow when retreat became necessary.
Snowflakes swirled as we began our descent, but the threatened storm never materialized. Passing a series of glassy beaver ponds, we scanned the surface of the water for signs of movement, but saw no beavers.
We passed underneath a Copper Mountain ski lift, and found camp on a forested knoll only a short walk from Copper Mountain's village. Sierra scampered up the nearest tree as soon as we reached camp, coming down just long enough to eat dinner before discovering another climbing tree.
Posted by Heather and Sierra at 8:30 PM