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.