The Final 90 Miles!

Spectacular, colorful mountain in southern Colorado

Yep!!! I hitched from the trail into Chama, NM early this morning and after the typical round of now familiar town chores (shower, laundry, resupply, blog update, etc.) I will push off in the morning for Ghost Ranch, the final 90 miles that will connect my northbound steps (Mexico to Ghost Ranch) with my southbound ones (Canada to my present location) to complete an unbroken walking arc from Mexico to Canada! As the man says, “…dizzy ain’t the word for the way that you’re makin’ me feel now…” (J.P. Barlow)!

Drying out the previous evening’s tent frost…gettin’ cold again!

I’m absolutely thrilled to be within spitting distance of completing this hike and seeing Wendy again, who is flying down to meet me at the finish line to help drag my haggard self back to Washington.

Crossing the Rio Grande definitely makes me feel I’m moving south

It’s very late so I’ll keep this brief but I want to take a moment to thank each and every one of you again who’ve been following my hike. I really mean that. My heartfelt thanks for your interest, concern and support.

I’ll do one final post upon completion and will probably wax a bit philosophical in summing up the hike and lessons learned but mostly right now I’m just very excited to be wrapping up- definitely a spring in my step this morning as I leave Chama for what I hope (“No whammy, no whammy!”) will be a peaceful victory lap. I’ve been nursing a decent cold now for a week or so but other than that I’m rarin’ to go.

Cold morning with heavy clouds draped over the hills

The following then are a few recent photos and videos which I hope you’ll enjoy. Love and best wishes to you all with a more lengthy post forthcomimg (upon completion). Cheers! Max

The very first “AT-like” shelter I’ve seen on this trail.
Another variant of the selfie I take now and then just to see what I look like
Real live forest fire near Salida, CO
First snow of the approaching winter…need to keep movin’!
There is just nothing quite like the views in Colorado
Hank and I crossed paths a couple times in the past day or two…he’s riding the bicycle version of this same route
The Aspen are just now starting to change color

496 Miles to Go

Me on a windy peak near Silverthorne…photo by Sampson the Bear.
No caption required
On this particular day on trail, one deer and 15-20 Moose.
Colorado easily lives up to its reputation for natural beauty
Well fed Marmot near a peak in Colorado
CDT marker near a pass

I’m posting this update via the spectacular Lake County Public Library in Leadville, CO. Great memories of a couple of family ski trips to Colorado years ago. We booked a place here without ever having heard of Leadville. My very first impression during the approach into town was a hand-painted billboard/sign with a Grateful Dead “Stealie” image next to the word “Deadville.” I felt immediately at home, ha!

My favorite: a winding trail around the upper edge of a mountain
360 degree view of a valley in Summit County, CO

Ten years or so later Leadville feels a lot different to me. Real estate prices seem to be soaring and the streets were positively packed the Sunday I arrived in town…the sleepy town I remember looks more like hipster central now. But in spite of the crowds, I had an excellent stay at the Colorado Trail House and was treated well by everyone I met in town. If you haven’t heard it before, Leadville’s claim to fame is as the highest elevation incorporated city in the U.S. (elevation: 10,152).

Leadville Deadheads 1
Leadville Deadheads 2
Leadville Deadheads 3
Leadville Deadheads 4: can you spot the “Stealie” in this trailside tribute? (hint: bottom right)
Beautiful reading room in the Leadville Public Library

As for the trail, with less that 500 miles remaining I’m definitely getting itchy feet for home and I feel myself getting really emotional-similar to how things ended on the AT. The hike has transitioned into a completely solo affair where I’m seeing almost no other thru hikers anymore, though I know there are many within several days hike of me. That is offset however by massive amounts of other traffic I’m encountering on the CDT in Colorado. The section I’m hiking now runs concurrent to the Colorado Trail, and is positively flush with mountain bikers, hikers, etc. And earlier in northern Colorado I was having to step aside frequently to allow ATVs and Motorcycles to pass me on the trail. Not all sections of the CDT are ‘shared use’, but here in Colorado it seems to be the norm. Whereas some purists dislike such activity, I like seeing people outdoors and active, enjoying their chosen forms of recreation. I wouldn’t want motorized traffic on the entire trail but a bit here and there provides variety and keeps me on my toes.

My shadow in the shot
Don’t step on that cornice!
Can you spot all the ski runs at Keystone in the distance?
Ahh, the path always carries forward
Not Yet (Masa), the only Japanese hiker I’ve met on the CDT…When I addressed him in Japanese he broke out laughing from surprise! We had a nice lunch break together and I also saw him again yesterday when i arrived in Leadville
Silverthorne/Dillon Reservoir from above
Apparently not a joke: one of my maps also indicated “watch our for land mines in this section.” WTF???
Picked up my last pair of shoes (#5) and last set of Aquamira (for treating water). The end of the hike is startin’ to get real.
Labor day morning boaters near the trail
Dinner spot overlook on a ridge
View from a pass
Hiker trash from a pass

Given Colorado’s reputation for awe-inspiring natural beauty, as one would expect the scenery along the trail has been stunning. Big, sweeping views have dominated the hiking landscape- hopefully that comes through in some of my pictures and videos.

Cold and windy!
Keystone 1: I hitched down to Keystone for a day to connect with my son Charlie and to see some friends (The Stumbling Pines) playing as part of the (inexplicably early?) Keystone ‘Octoberfest’ on August 31st.
Keystone 2: The start of the Keystone 5k race the “Bier Burner.”

Lastly, it may be a while before my next post as the trail town logistics look a bit challenging in the upcoming week or two. Thank you again for your interest in keeping up with my hike and-barring any significant problems- I look forward to wrapping things up within the next few weeks! Cheers and happy trails! Max