I was up a bit later than usual and hiked out of camp in daylight. The sun rose and I passed nice family whose two young kids were warming up in the sunlight alongside the trail. I later heard that the whole family successfully thru-hiked the Colorado Trial. As continued on past the woods, I began to see this beautiful, undeveloped, almost endless tree-lined meadow with rolling green hills that was right of an old west movie. I had never been to Cochetopa and never even heard of it until I started preparing for the CT. Being born in Colorado and having lived here most of my life here, how did I not know about this place? I understand Cochetopa is a Ute term meaning “Pass of the Buffalo”.
In this giant park I saw just one lone RV, and as I got closer I saw a little paper sign that invited hikers over for trail magic. I think I was the first there that morning and met this wonderful, dog loving couple from Kansas City that just loved to help out hikers. I could leave my trash, refill my bottles with fresh water, charge my devices, sit in a lounge chair, and drink hot tea or cold orange juice. I told them how grateful I was to charge up my phone and batteries, as I had forgotten to pack the correct cable to charge my phone from my primary portable battery. The husband went inside, happily gave me the cable I was missing, and wouldn’t take anything for it. A hiker couple stopped by soon after me – they had thru-hiked the PCT together at 66 years-old, 11 years ago, and were now thru-hiking the CT. I thought that’s who I want to be when I grow up.
I had left camp a couple hours late this morning, and spent at least an hour with my new KC friends. But I still felt like I needed to get in my 20 miles for the day with relatively easy hiking through Cochetopa. I found hiking this section was a bit more challenging than expected later in the day. I had to find a spot to wade across Cochetopa Creek where the old bridge had washed out. After a short, steep climb, the trail then follows a narrow, dry, and angled path along the steep hillside for several miles approaching the Eddiesville trailhead. It was easier hiking after Eddiesville, and the cows liked it here too. An impressive collection of kinda mean looking bulls were fenced off. A bit further up the trail the cows were unfazed as I set my camp up among them, just short of 20 miles for the day.