Colorado Trail Day 13 – Silverton

The pièce de résistance of the CT is the San Juan mountains, and we got deep into them on day 13. The views were simply stunning, one after another.

13,271 ft high point of Colorado Trail
13,271 ft high point of Colorado Trail

Physically, it was a tough day. We had to make up time lost from weather on the prior day, and 20 miles of the riding was bouncing (4000 ft) between 12,000 and 13,000 ft. But the final descent of over 3200 ft from Stony Pass down into Silverton put huge grins on our faces.

Heading to the CT Summit

We made the right decision to stay put in the fog the night before and enjoyed a great sunrise.

waking up after stormy night
waking up after stormy night
great views in the clear sky
great views in the clear sky
the slog up to the summit
the slog up to the summit

By 8:30 am we made it.

13,271 ft high point of Colorado Trail
13,271 ft high point of Colorado Trail

Bent Peak

We continued on the path toward Bent Peak.

on way toward Bent Peak
on way toward Bent Peak
on way to Bent Peak
on way to Bent Peak
wildflowers starting to show
wildflowers starting to show

Carson Peak

Then we started up toward Carson Peak, and ran into through-hikers John and Sarah from Denver (they had passed us in the fog the night before). Their water system failed that morning and they were boiling water stream-side. They had at least a day or two before hitting Silverton. I believe in trail karma, and since Kyle and I both had Sawyer Squeeze systems, I gave them mine, and they were so thankful. The positive karma worked out too, as even though it got really dark and grey, we didn’t have any rain for the entire day.

we gave John and Sarah one of our water systems
we gave John and Sarah one of our water systems

We then continued our climb up the valley below Carson Peak.  At one point we heard a huge group of coyotes crying.  

up the valley
up the valley
rock formations up valley
rock formations up valley
looking down valley
looking down valley

Cataract Lake

In the next valley we came upon Cataract Lake.  

Cataract Lake
Cataract Lake
huge columbine clusters
huge columbine clusters
a few waterfalls under snow
a few waterfalls under snow
more wildflowers
more wildflowers
even more wildflowers
even more wildflowers
second to last climb of day
second to last climb of day

Stony Pass

At about 3 pm we ascended the final climb of the day up to Stony Pass. We heard a huge herd of sheep on a distant mountain all bleating their brains out. It was a cool sound to listen to.

more wildflowers on way to Stony Pass
more wildflowers on way to Stony Pass
just below Stony Pass
just below Stony Pass

At Stony Pass, we cyclists have to get off the CT because the Weminuche Wilderness is protected, and I was prepared to be disappointed riding the road down into Silverton, but I was wrong.  It was a wicked fun and steep descent through huge wildflower meadows with stunning views.  CT hikers don’t get to see this, but I’m so glad we did.  We’ll come back and hike the Weminuche some year and have the best of both worlds.

just below Stony Pass
just below Stony Pass
cars beware - a sharp turn on a cliff
cars beware – a sharp turn on a cliff

We have come 350 miles and ascended 60,000 ft.  We get back on the trail tomorrow, and have only four segments left.  

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