Miles: 7.5 trail miles plus 5 road miles
Camp: Silverton, CO 10 miles from Stony Pass CDT mile 781
Elevation at camp: 9300 feet

I woke up to the sound of Freebird packing up camp, as he intends to hike on to Lake City and not stop in Silverton. None of us carried enough food for that, plus we like checking out the cool towns along the way. I’m kind of scouting out Colorado towns for potential relocation spots…maybe.

I got up and hit the trail before the guys were even packed, but I knew they would catch me eventually…and hoped that Squirrel would catch up too. As I headed uphill out of the valley I looked back and saw 2 moose strolling by camp. It was a mom and her calf, a bit too far for me to get a good photo. I respected the distance and continued my ascent.

I hadn’t had to depend on my own navigation skills for a while, so I spent a lot of time with my nose in my map. There were a series of trails that connected and interwove all over the place, so I had to really pay attention to my course. At some point I chose a route that must not be common because there were no footprints anywhere. I usually use those in conjunction with my maps to find the right way…or at least the popular way where people have already forged a path in the snow. At this point, I had no clues but my own sense of navigation. I was postholing all over, even in snowshoes and making it nowhere fast. I gave myself that moment of frustration where I let out a good yell and slammed my poles to the ground. It felt good to get it out and soon after I discovered trail.

The rest of the day went smoothly to the pass where Handstand and Charge caught up to me. We had to walk a road to town as there were no cars that time of day. It was a pretty isolated road with no reason to go up unless you have time to kill. Beautiful of course.

I’ve never liked road walking so much before! I put on wool socks (I always wear waterproof up here), and some music and took every step with confidence…you can’t posthole on a dirt road! As we lowered in elevation the air became warmer, the trees more vibrant and the walking so easy. A Jeep drove by on its way up the pass and promised to pick us up on their way back down.

When they finally returned to give us a ride the rest of the way to Silverton, Squirrel was in the car! I was so pleased to have our friend back as I had felt guilty for heading to town early without him. All was right in the world.

Silverton is a gorgeous town, small and full of mining history. At one point it consisted of 40 saloons and brothels on 2 tiny main streets. It is a happening and sleepy mountain town with towering mountains all around. I would love to come back some day…but for now, pizza, tv, ice cream and a warm dry bed beckon.

Dinner: pizza and salad.

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Snowy road
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The long and winding road
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Silverton
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