Our friend Jeff from CO Spgs somehow tricked Bill, Tom and I into thinking running the last 73 miles of the CO Trail from Molas Pass to Durango in two days was a good idea. We'd carry light overnight packs and aim for roughly 50 miles the first day and 20 miles the second day.
Bill, Tom and I met Jeff in Durango Friday night, left Jeff's car at the Junction Creek TH and drove to Molas Pass to camp. Up at 5am and off on the trail shortly after 6am with our overnight packs weighing about 16lbs each
And we're off. Our hope was to cover the 50 miles between Molass Pass and Kinnebec Road in Cumberland Basin this first day
Greeted by a nice sunrise
Engineer Mountain at sunrise
Less than two miles into it and this was the last image my Panasonic camera would ever take. The next time I turned it on, it was dead.
But thanks to Tom, we'd still have coverage
The rolling terrain from Molas Pass towards Engineer Mt. trail was awesome running
And the wild flowers were out BIG TIME
Around mile ten we had a great view down into the basin we'd descend. Here, Tom felt he didn't have the full 50 miles in him and headed back. This worked out well for me because I now had a camera to use and it was great for us all in that Tom could meet us at our planned end point, Cumberland Basin later that evening. And Tom would still get in a 20 mile run for the day.
All day we'd keep saying, "look at all the flowers"
A bridge across Cascade Creek around mile 13
Another thought of the day that we'd all have repeatedly, "This singletrack is amazing. It would also be wonderful on a mountain bike."
We had left Tom back there at the saddle in the middle of this photo
Apparently there is a trail between Rico and Silverton. Cool.
More crazy wildflower action with Mount Wilson and Lizard Head Peak in the background around mile 16 between Cascade and Hermosa Creek drainages
Celebration Lake on Bolam Pass Road 20 miles into our day. This marked the end of our first CO Trail segment of the day, segment 25. We'd continue on to complete segments 26 and 27 this day.
Hermosa Peak with a field of flowers
We filled up water bottles in this spring at the foot of Hermosa Peak
More totally sweet singletrack well into segment 26
Beist was flying!
Cruising a lush basin en route to Blackhawk Pass
I'm not sure what kind of flowers these are but they were beautiful and bountiful. They should be Colorado's state flower.
Looking at the Wilson Group and Lizard Head Peak from Blackhawk Pass at 12,000'
We wished these were ours
Stunning singletrack took our minds off the fact that we were just now past the halfway mark of our day's total distance
Another time we wished we had bikes
31 miles and 8 hours into it we arrived at Hotel Draw TH. We had tanked up with water about three miles before this spot because we'd not find reliable water again for the next 20 miles
Looking back at Blackhawk Pass near center of the photo
The day was great for being high in the mountains for hours on end. It was nearing 4pm and we still hadn't seen any major rain cells
Then, looking east we could see it was getting a bit nasty over the Weminuche
And a major rain cell to our west made lots of noise and wind and got us worried for a bit but never ended up hitting us
Despite taking up with loads of water around mile 28, we were running short by mile 41. Bill managed to locate a small spring where we could fill up. We used Steri-Pens on any suspect water but drank directly from the springs we'd find
The CO Trail was pretty nice but I hear that 547 Neglected trail is totally sweet
The last 9 miles of the day eventually bordered on death march status with at least three false summits of the 12,300+ peak we were to nearly summit. Also, the day ended up being 52 miles instead of 50. I know two miles doesn't sound like much but by the end of this day it felt like twice that. It was a huge boost to find Tom sleeping in the car at the Cumberland Basin/Kinnebec TH when we got there at 10pm. The day had taken us 16 hours to cover segments 25, 26 and 27 and we were pretty beat. We setup tents in a very strong wind and slept as best we could despite the wind blowing the tent walls down on our heads throughout the night. This is the next morning.
From Kennebec, Bill would drive the vehicle back down to Durango while Jeff, Tom and I would run the final 21.5 miles, segment 28 of the CO Trail.
Sunday was a relatively easy day with mostly downhill runniing. We'd do about 1,400' climbing and 5,000' descending
Five miles into the day we came across this awesome waterfall in Gaines Gulch. We noticed at least two established climbing routes to the left of the waterfall.
Crossing upper Junction Creek on a nice bridge
With the trail nice and fast we ran pretty hard for about 8 miles to this fine viewpoint at Gudy's Rest. It looks down at the rest of the route along Junction Creek. 3.5 miles from here and we'd be done!
And back at the cars at Junction Creek around noon. We had covered the 21.5 mile segment in 4.5 hours. The segment was really fun and overcast skies made the running very enjoyable. We were convinced it would be a great segment to bike in the fall when the colors are out.