Day 75: Hope and Lake Ann Pass

Miles Hiked: 23

Total Milage: 1196.5

Location: Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Around 8am this morning Luke dropped me off on the side of the road where I got off the trail. As always, it was really hard to say goodbye to him. Everyone else wanted to leave town around 9am so they paid for a shuttle. I was excited to have some time alone out on the trail! I also wanted to make sure I made it over both of the high passes today. There is bad weather all week and I want to try and beat the storms as much as I can! I walked down the road for about two miles before I reached the Willis Gulch trail head. I continued up the trail until it met up with the official CDT. The day started with a big climb up to the top of Hope Pass. Most of it was all under tree cover until I got about 1 mile from the top of the pass. I honestly really enjoy hiking in a green tunnel again after how stressful the trail has felt the last few weeks. For no particular reason I started to feel very anxious as I approached the top of the pass. I didn’t think it was a difficult or sketchy pass at all but for some reason my heart was racing and it was really hard to catch my breath and calm down. This almost never ever happens to me while hiking so it was very bizzare. When I got to the top of the pass, a NOBO CDT hiker got there at the same time as me. I gave him one of the shooters my mom sent me in the mail. We said cheers and took it together. I didn’t spend much time on top of the pass because I still had to hike a long ways before reaching the top of the second pass I really wanted to get over today. So far the weather has been nice for me but I could see the thunder clouds gathering in the distance.

I descended from the pass feeling a lot better but still worried why it felt like I just had an anxiety episode when it’s so abnormal for me. The trail continued through some beautiful Aspen forests. I was passing so many NOBO CDT hikers today. Some of them recognized me from New Mexico! It was good to see some familiar faces again. I started climbing back up to the second pass and the weather kept getting worse and worse. Right when I got to tree line I heard some thunder and saw two CT hikers named Dilly Daly and Smiles sitting under umbrellas waiting out the storm. I decided to hike past them since the top of the pass was only a mile away. I figured I’d turn around if I felt unsafe which is exactly what happened. When I got about 0.5 from the top it started to hail and thunder more. I ran back down the mountain to the trees and decided to wait it out with the other two hikers. In the meantime I set up my tent to get some shelter from the rain. I really wish I had an umbrella right now! What a great idea. I think I’d only use one for monsoon season in Colorado but that’s it. Otherwise it would get in the way and the sun doesn’t bother me too much. When the sky looked slightly more clear we all decided to make a run for it.

When we were ascending the pass we saw another CDT hiker come over going the opposite direction as us. He walked across some snow near the side of a cornice. It was helpful to see where we had to go to make some safe footsteps. When I had to go over the snow at the top I was slightly freaked out even though it wasn’t that big of a deal. Dily Daly turned around to make sure I was okay which was super nice. As soon as I got to the top of the pass, it started to thunder and rain very hard sideways. I could hardly keep my eyes open as I ran down the trail on the other side of the mountain ad fast as I could. Eventually I got back in to some tree cover again but I was very wet, cold, and shaken up. I hiked a couple more miles until I found a good camping spot near a water source.

It was so difficult to set up my tent when I could barely move my fingers. Even unbuckling my backpack for my hips proved to be a challenge. One I got my tent set up and warm clothes on I shivered in my sleeping bag for about an hour until I was warm enough to sit up and make dinner and do camp chores. For dinner I made the southwest breakfast skillet my mom sent me which is one of my absolute favorite trail meals. It was really nice to have after such a hard day. I got a satellite message from Free Fall that he and 12 Pack didn’t make it over the pass today. They are camped about 5 miles south of me. Although I hate camping alone I’m so glad I got the two passes out of the way. Eventually another hiker came and camped in the same site as me. His name was little cave and he is a CDT hiker as well.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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