CT Day 5: The Divide

July 3
Miles: 23.3
Total: 104.4

Segment 6 Mile 9.4 to Breckenridge

Finally, the forest relinquishes control of the landscape and we are truly above the treeline heading toward Georgia pass. This is why I hike. This is why I wake up at 5am. Snow patches brighten shady creases and hollows, but the trail itself is all clear. I am reminded most of Sonora Pass green slopes and snow splotches, with patches of trees. Today we finally reach the divide, sharing paths with the continental divide trail (CDT), that like the PCT stretches from Mexico to Canada. But today is also a day divided, geography echoing my mood. A tale of two hills.

We snap photos on the pass just as a big dark cloud hides the morning sun. Clouds have moved in even faster today than the day before. It’s not even 8am. Still it is glorious up here and, mentally, Breckenridge, our first resupply, is all downhill from the pass. 


But there’s the minor detail of a 1,200 foot climb. Not especially massive, but between pushing for town and pushing the last four days for fun it becomes a significant hurdle. Elevation is so strange. When I’m feeling strong I haven’t noticed at all. But when anything is a bit off high elevation is all like “oh, you wanna go up there? Fine. But do you really need oxygen? And here are some thunderclouds and raindrops 4 U. MmmmK?

A quarter of the way up and my relatively empty pack seems full of rocks, my legs are lead. Even the metaphors are hard. At one point the long switchbacks angle just right to make it feel as if we are walking uphill toward the pass again! Then the rain falls in fat drops just insistently enough to require repacking my pack. And then stops 2 minutes later. The weather in these Colorado mountains goes from sweaty hot to shivering cold in a single puff of cloud.

This is a head down keep plodding situation. Except, as the day goes on I am increasingly interrupted by mountain bikers. I want to listen to music but would probably get run over. Then there are so many bikers it’s impossible to get a rhythm going. I find myself on narrow switchbacks, almost constantly stepping aside as they zoom by. They far outnumber the hikers we see today. Some are incredibly polite, announcing their presence and group size and wishing us good hikes. Others not so much. Steph is convinced one guy, rushing downward with music blasting was actually aiming for us. Finally I have LTE phone service and can check on possible rooms for tonight. We have reservations for tomorrow but have arrived a day early on a busy weekend. If the bikers are any indication town must be packed. And Sour Patch has zoomed ahead so now we are only splitting 2 ways. It seems the whole town is booked up for the holiday, or at least the bits of town that can be yours for under $300 a night. What to do? We are only 7.2 miles from the road and it’s not even 2pm. The only other option seems to be camping at the last sites before town which appear to be under the power lines. In beetle kill forest. By the Blair Witch trail?!?!

As a last hope, Steph posts to the women of the CT Facebook page on the chance that someone in Breckenridge wants to split a room with us, before resigning ourself to another night out. But showers! And food that doesn’t required added water! So close. And so out of reach.

And then, like magic, we have an offer of a spare room with friends of a Facebook friend, Len and Chris. Steph steels herself up to call Len. It’s always a bit intimidating to call a complete stranger to ask for a favor, especially one that involves staying in their house. “Hi, I’m Stephanie I got your number from Betty Cook?” She begins. “I don’t know any Betty Cook” comes the reply. Her face freezes, in deer-headlights mode. But of course it is all a joke. And we are most welcome. Then there are a few last miles out and a free bus to town, where we wander the isles of the grocery store scoping out resupply options before mulling over dinner food possibilities. Len kindly picks us up from the grocery store and takes us on a mini tour of nearby Frisco, with an adorable single Main Street tucked right against the mountains all decked out in flags for the holiday.

So instead of hunkering down all dusty and sad under the power lines in the haunted half-dead woods, we are all cozy and ever so grateful in plush robes, waiting for our laundry with the comfiest beds awaiting. We were offered our own separate rooms, but perhaps inspired by the Giggle Twins, thought sharing a room with twin beds like sisters would be more fun. 

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