August 30th, 2019
Jacque Creek mm 1798.6 to Tennessee Pass Trailhead and Hwy 24 mm 1818.7, then hitch to Leadville.
Distance in miles: 20.1
We have another easy day to town again. In fact, I haven’t done my usual 30 mile day in almost a week and I’ll admit, it’s been kind of great. We head up the creek valley early and are surprised to meet a CT hiker, Palisade, up and at em early, too. We hike with him to the top of Searle Pass and then across to Kokomo Pass. These were my highest passes yet on the CT and today they feel like child’s play. We hit Kokomo by 9 am, whereas it took me until noon the time before. I’m just so much faster and efficient. Plus we are motivated to get into Leadville, where I did not stop when hiking the CT.
Most of the rest of the day is downhill. We hike through Camp Hale (old military training facility) and then parallel to HWY 24. There are some dirt road stretches that make the day super-cruisy. I hike right past my campsite from 2 years ago and it’s only noon! I remember the stretch from Copper Mountain to this site as being one of the longest and hardest days and now I have done it easily in half a day. Granted, we had about a 3 mile head-start on this segment but still, I just can’t get over how easy the trail is for me now. We’re loving the easy tread and navigation.
We reach the HWY and parking lot around 2 pm and instantly get a ride from a guy out walking his dog. He thinks that we are doing a segment hike and asks where our car is parked. We try hard to explain what we are doing but it takes him a long time to get it. It’s a hard thing to comprehend…yes, we’ve walked all the way from Canada…no, it’s really not a joke, we’re not pulling your leg. “How are you going to get to town” he asks? Relentless replies quietly but confidently, “you’re going to give us a ride, Sir.” It’s like a Jedi-mind-trick. And just like that, the guy kindly drives us all the way to the hostel, even though he wasn’t even going all the way into town.
The hostel is just down the street from the Melanzana clothing company, so after we drop our packs, we head over to get our obligatory fleece hoodie. Now, this is one of the crazier things I have seen in my trail days. This store has a cult-following for their products. Long ago, they stopped offering online orders because they couldn’t keep up with demand. So now you can only purchase one of their micro-grid fleece hoodies in person, limit of 2 per day. Even still, the hoodies are flying off the rack as soon as they put them out. They literally sew all the clothing in the back, bringing out the pieces one by one so that eager customers can snatch them up. The price for the hoodie is $73 with tax. I get my ration of 2 and send one home. The other I may just need in the San Juans when it starts to get cold. I also try on one of their dresses but it isn’t my style.
We have a great lunch and Relentless gets a set of new trekking poles at the awesome little outdoor gear store. Leadville sure has shaped up since I was last through here. It still has some of it’s rustic, rough-around-the-edges charm, though. We finish the night with a visit to Quincy’s Steakhouse, a small chain that also has a location in Florence, my hometown. We are stuffed and go back to soak in the hot tub at the hostel. Man, am I on vacation or what? Tomorrow we just have to make it 23 miles to the trailhead to Mt. Massive, the second tallest peak in Colorado, 3rd tallest in the US, which we plan to hike the day after. Easy Peasy.