CT Day 9/CDT: Storybook Ending at Twin Lakes

This is my favorite weekend every year, our annual Fathers’ Day Campout with my son & his daughter. Erik was super supportive of my Colorado Trail thru-hike this summer and I don’t think it was accidental that he had picked Twin Lakes for this weekend. I had been section hiking my way from Denver to Twin Lakes (the actual lakes, not the village) on my weekends since early May, then beginning mid July I planned to start from there to finish the last 300 miles of the CT into Durango. It was Friday morning, and the plan was to meet Erik at their campsite, then he would drop my back at Half Moon Road so I could hike the first half of Segment 11 up to Twin Lakes. I still had to go back and hike Segments 6-9 over the next few weekends as the snowmelt allowed.

I had just finished Segment 10 on the previous Monday, and had to walk about and 1-1/2 miles extra to meet Erik on Half Moon Road to the the construction closure. I was a little frustrated at first that I would need to backtrack today over that same stretch of road to get back to the CT. Once I started hiking it didn’t take long for me to just enjoy the short extra road walk as part of the journey and a little bit more training to help me get to Durango. Plus it was hard to not be in a happy mood with our Fathers’ Day weekend underway.

Segment 11 starts out with a decent climb up the Mt Elbert trail. I remembered that climb from summitting Mt Elbert the summer before; we had seen some CT hikers going up when we were hiking down and thinking they were nuts to be backpacking that trail. Yet here I was less than a year later doing the same thing. As the CT diverges from the main Mt Elbert trail, I was surprised at how lush and green this section was. I had picked a good time to hike this here after the snowy & rainy spring we had. I crossed paths with the first NOBO CDT hikers I had seen; they were friendly enough but had an impressive hard-driving demeaner that I hoped to have someday. I began to descend towards Twin Lakes and could see some of the Collegiate mountains, a pretty spectacular site. The trail then becomes fairly unspectacular as it follows between the road and Twin Lakes Reservoir most of the way around. Miles of sagebrush-lined trail seems to go on forever. A highlight was a Loch Ness monster-looking piece of driftwood on the shoreline.

I heard later that some hikers take a semi-bushwhacking short-cut around the short end of the reservoir, but I had to follow the traditional CT route anyway to meet my family for our Father’s Day weekend. I crossed another pair of fast-moving CDT hikers and could finally see our campsite. I was dragging myself towards camp when my granddaughter Kya saw me. She sprinted towards me for probably 50 yards with open arms to greet me with probably the best end to a hike ever.

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