My CDT hike is done.  It’s over.  I’m back home in Denver figuring out my plans for the next month and a half, and reminiscing of the good times on the trail.  I feel like the trail, for me, was broken into three sections.

The first section was New Mexico.  I was jazzed up, so excited to break away from the computer screen and just be outside.  It didn’t matter what I was doing, as long as I was out there.  There were sections that were some of the most beautiful hiking I have done.  I enjoyed the boot heel of New Mexico (the first 120 or so miles) immensely.  It was vast, open, and exactly what you would expect a high desert landscape to be.  The views were insane – they stretched for miles, with nothing but flat open desert between mountains far distances away.  I felt alone, saw no one for several days.  I saw more rattlesnakes on the trail than hikers.  I also was crushing big miles in the beginning, something that later became comical as I ended up mowing through New Mexico only to take time off when I got to Colorado, due to late snow storms in the high country.

One of my favorite Landscapes, in the boot heel of New Mexico.

One of my favorite Landscapes, in the boot heel of New Mexico.

In New Mexico, I also got to hike with my life long friend, Badger.  That was such a highlight to my trip, to have a friend be able to join me for two weeks, getting a full taste of a thru hike.  We had a blast together, his knees felt strong (thank goodness), and we got to see some of the most beautiful desert landscapes, including the Cabazon Peak/Deadman Peaks areas just south of Cuba.  Another landscape I adored due to the openness.

Then there’s Colorado, where I did most of this by myself.  I went through the snow on snowshoes, I climbed twelve summits over 14k feet, and I fought through so many cold rains.  I attempted the Nolan’s 14 route, and failed on that.  I really pushed my limits, which was fun.  I also sensed myself needing more than just a trail to walk to stay stimulated.  I needed more, be it pushing large mile days, or pushing myself by getting off trail or getting up high on peaks.  I’m not sure why this happened, I think possibly just walking on trails I felt as though I wasn’t learning as much as I had previously.  Maybe I was plateauing in what I could learn from a skills perspective in that regard, and my mind took me other places.

IMG_2709

High Alpine scenery in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

Then I met up with Andy, which brings me to what I view as the third and final leg of the trip. I’ve never hiked with anyone like Andy.  I consider myself a strong hiker.  No superstar, but I can climb fast, I have good stamina, and I can churn out big days consecutively.  But Andy, the dudes on a whole other level.  On our first full day, we faced some of the hardest terrain.  Steep ups and downs, and we busted out just shy of 40 miles.  The next day, we did it all over again.  And again and again until we reached south pass city, at the gateway of the winds.  We were happy to be there, finally another highlight.  My mind was becoming a bit jaded.  Colorado hiking was exciting, the views were immense, and then we went to some pretty boring landscape for hundreds of miles.  The hiking was easy, and some people LOVE easy hiking, easy outweighs beauty for many.  At times its nice, but man, when the only challenge is fighting boredom, it gets old after a day or two.  I wanted mountains, challenging climbs, and new amazing scenery.  Andy was getting in the same mind set. I described the rest in the previous post, and described how we totally changed up our hike, did things that excited us and challenged us, and in turn didn’t complete a traditional ‘thruhike’ of the CDT.

IMG_3617

Climbing the Grand was a true highlight of the trip

More High Alpine awesomeness that I had so much trouble walking past.

More High Alpine awesomeness that I had so much trouble walking past.

So what now?  Well I started by climbing Capital peak on the first day I was back home in Denver.  It’s regarded as the hardest 14er in the state.  I did that with my 2 mountaineering buddies Dan and Brandon.  Here’s a few photos from this:

The Knife's Edge on Capital.  Not a 'hiking' knife edge that is a wide footpath, but an actual corner of the rock.  Do not fall here ;)

The Knife’s Edge on Capital. Not a ‘hiking’ knife edge that is a wide footpath, but an actual corner of the rock. Do not fall here 😉

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

We took the ridge proper to the summit.  A pretty long, exposed ridge, low class 5.

We took the ridge proper to the summit. A pretty long, exposed ridge, low class 5.

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

DCIM100GOPRO

Here’s a video of the knifes edge from my friends:

Now, I head out East!