CDT, Day 1 — Setting Sail

CDT, Day 1 — July 1

Betsy and I awoke at 5:30 a.m., ate breakfast, and drove 90 minutes to Silverthorne, Colo. — where I left off last year — on the western side of the Continental Divide. When we arrived at 8 a.m., the air was a chilly 47 degrees and I immediately got cold.

At Wildernest Road, my starting point, Betsy kissed me and headed back to Boulder, while I trudged up town streets for 1.5 miles to the Ptarmigan Trailhead. A well-graded and -used trail continued uphill through waist-high sagebrush shrubland that paralleled the Blue River down into the valley to the west.

At 4 miles, the trail turned northwest for 2 miles to a junction in the alpine. The main trail continued north to Ptarmigan Peak, while the CDT alternate trail turned northwest — except that there wasn’t a trail.

I headed in the direction I thought the “trail” went. Walking through alpine tundra tested my ankles, which I could have easily twisted when I stepped on clumps of grasses and sedges. In half a mile, I found a faint trail and cairns that I followed to Ptarmigan Pass. The faint trail disappeared north of the pass, but I followed the route as shown on my Guthook app.

After two often steep and rough miles, I reached the South Fork of the Williams Fork, feeling pretty beat. I forded the creek and labored up a steep trail festooned with blowdowns of lodgepole pines. Scrambling over all those downed trees while ascending 1,400 feet up a steep trail proved highly unpleasant. But at 5 p.m., I reached a delightful sub-alpine meadow and found a great campsite at the edge of the forest next to a stream.

Today I hiked a mere 11 miles in 9 hours. Hopefully, both my energy and trail conditions will improve tomorrow.

2 Responses

  1. Glad you’re on your way. Sounds a tough first day,: uphill (naturally on leaving town), full pack (as always when setting out). And all those blowdowns! Makes the start from the Mexican border look a doddle..
    Nice photo and I enjoyed your commentry. Thanks for taking the time and energy to write it. Good luck.

    Ian Coy
  2. I’m delighted that you are underway.  Well done in these troubled times. Nice picture showing the terrain and I enjoyed reading your blog.  Sounds like you had a tough first day: steeply uphill with a full pack (as usual on leaving town), path non-existant in places, and all those blowdowns to negotiate!  It makes the start of the CDT back on the Mexican border seem a doddle.  Your blog entry is dated the 9th July. I hope the trail has been easier since.

    Ian Coy

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