Day 64: When Bikes Attack
Monday, July 4, 2022 8:27 pm
Location: Middle Fork Swan River (861.1 miles)

A mostly uneventful day brought me east through Colorado, heading closer to the high point of the CDT.

Since I was planning on a 20 mile day today, I had wanted to get at least a relatively early start. I planned for 7 am, but didn’t leave until almost 7:45. While I was finishing packing, Stumblebee, Sprouts, and Pale Ale all passed my campsite. (Bass was somewhere behind.)

Shortly after leaving camp, the trail went into a burn area, which it continued to travel through for a few miles, until the trail crossed a highway.

Burn Area
Burn AreaScar from the Peak 2 fire in 2017.

After a couple of miles (before the highway), I caught up with Sprouts, Stumblebee, and Pale Ale, at the junction for a trail that went into Frisco. They’d decided to take the trail to town, rather than continue hiking to the highway and hitch in, and were leaving signs on the trail to let Bass know. I said my goodbyes to Pale Ale, since she was ending her hike, and continued on.

The trail briefly joined a bike path as it traveled parallel to CO 9, and then crossed over the highway. Had I followed my original plan, I’d have taken that highway to Breckenridge, to the south. (To the north are the towns of Frisco and Silverthorne.) On the other side of the highway, I followed a road leading towards a resort. I stopped for a break next to a pond, just before an uphill.

View west (trail south). The trail crossed the far ridge yesterday, dropping down the mountain and crossing the road earlier today.

I passed quite a few day hikers on the uphill climb, and also a few mountain bikers as well. (Or rather, the cyclists passed me.) After cresting the ridge and heading downhill, the number of cyclists increased, and would continue to do so for most of the day.

For the most part, the cyclists were fairly polite, taking care to not speed down hills until they were sure there was no one in the way. Since today is the Fourth of July, it’s not surprising to me that there were so many more people out on the than “usual”. I certainly wouldn’t call it crowded, but there were almost certainly more non-long-distance-hikers out today than any other day I’ve been on the CDT.

MeadowThe trail goes alongside a flat meadow.

In the afternoon, I met Slim Gym, a 79-year-old hiker who’d gotten his trail name because he was a physical education teacher for thirty years. He had a different opinion of the cyclists, since most of them were coming from behind him, and he was no longer nimble enough to dodge out of the way.

I later had an encounter with a less-than-considerate cyclist, who made a blind turn coming down the hill and skidded to a stop, avoiding running into me by only 15 or 20 feet. If I’d been only a little further uphill (by, say, leaving my last break only a few seconds later), he would have crashed into me. I yelled at him to slow down; his “defense” was that he was “only going 10 mph”. I rolled my eyes and continued hiking; even 1 mph was too fast if he couldn’t see what he was biking into.

BoardwalkThe trail goes over a boardwalk through a swampy, willow-filled area.

Throughout the course of the day, I passed by no small number of Colorado Trail southbounders. Tomorrow will be the last day I see any, as the CDT and CT diverge.

Later in the day, I passed by a very large dog kennel for sled dogs; they were making quite a ruckus.

A light rainstorm broke out, which eventually escalated into some hail; I put my rain jacket on for protection, which caused the rain to almost immediately cut back.

About half an hour after that, I reached the Middle Fork Swan River, with a campsite (unfortunately, closed) right between the creek and a dirt road. I walked down the road a bit thinking there might be more campsites down the road, but a couple of ATVs went past, with exceedingly blindingly bright light bars turned on. I decided that this would be a very unfriendly place to camp, so I went to the creek, got some water, and continued up the trail, aiming for a dry campsite about 2.5 miles uphill.

Fortunately, just past the creek, only a little bit uphill, there was a large area with space for quite a few tents, and I set up there. I’d met my 20-mile goal for the day, and was a bit tired, so this was a good place to stop. And it meant I wouldn’t have to lug a lot of extra water uphill.

I got my tent set up quickly and started on dinner, but was a bit slower cooking and it started to rain before I was finished, so I had to finish dinner from my tent.

Tomorrow is going to be a long and hard day as I travel across a long and exposed ridge towards the high point of the CDT.