Posts Tagged ‘Twin Lakes’

**From September 2015**

Eventually, we managed to extract ourselves from the vortex of Leadville and made our way back to the Trail with a ride from a former thru-hiker in a Subaru. She dropped us off at Tennessee Pass where we moved sluggishly down the trail and quickly encountered a cooler further distracting us from Mexico.

Once we extracted ourselves from the cooler, we proceeded along the trail. Eventually, we paused and ate the subs we packed out for dinner and debated about a campsite location. The three of us came up with an “ideal” spot and a “probably spot.” I then came to the dilemma of how much of the sub to eat. I ate half just fine and wanted more, but sometimes, the other half can be too much, especially going uphill. My stomach overruled my rational brain and I ate the other half.

About a quarter mile later I regretted that as we plugged away uphill. If I was sluggish before, I became more so. Memphis had shot ahead uphill like usual and E.D. was not too far ahead of me having the same problem. When we got to the top of the climb, I noticed E.D. had found a campsite and was ready to fall asleep to digest the subway. I wanted to go a little further, but a raindrop hit my face and it was dark, so we set up tents and figured we’d find Memphis in the morning. Just as we got tents up, it began to rain and it continued most of the night.

The aspens on the way down to Twin Lakes.

The next day, we eventually got high enough to send Memphis a text. He replied that he was almost to Twin Lakes and heard about a hiker cabin available for dirt cheap by the store that Yogi slammed in her town guide. I had skipped Twin Lakes on the Colorado Trail four years prior, so I was curious. Since the weather fell into the “less than ideal” category, we wanted to see if we could snag said cabin. We had camped at about 11,000 feet and the snow line in the morning only fell about five hundred feet above us.

Memphis got into town before the store closed, rented the cabin for $30 total for all three of us and told us the location before heading to the only restaurant in the nearby hotel. With the weather turning worse in the evening, we found the cabin most comfortable and it even came with a TV/DVD set up. We had a choice between three DVDs.

When the store opened in the morning they could not have been nicer. Don’t listen to Yogi on this one. They rocked.

Leaving Twin Lakes included an adventure of its own. Ley had a dotted route cutting off about a mile, but potentially went through some swampy stuff around one of the lakes. There was a longer route with a bridge and an easier graded trail up to the steeper stuff. Memphis chose the wet feet route, I chose the dry feet route, and E.D. delayed deciding by making a phone call.

On the way up toward Hope Pass, I ran into six older women who wanted to chat. They had known each other for awhile and several had on Melanzanas.

Hope Pass was marked by a cairn with prayer flags.

Hope Pass seemed to go on forever on an overstuffed stomach, however, the storms abated. Right before the pass, I could hear the wind howling, but didn’t quite grasp the extent until I stood on top of the pass clamping my hand on my head to keep possession of my hat. I did manage to take a few timed photos and hung out there until my face felt sufficiently battered by the wind.

Descending Hope Pass was the first time in a long time that my knees began hurting. The south side had a very steep grade. I had to stop and stretch the muscles around my knees a few times.

I ran into Memphis at a stream toward the bottom. There was an opportunity to see some historic building that he was very excited about and a dirt road alternate parallel to the trail.

I continued on the trail and eventually stopped to sit at the junction of the trail and the end of the dirt road alternate in a I-have-to-eat-now moment. Just as I finished chomping an unappetizing, but effective cliff bar, E.D. and Memphis appeared and wanted to camp early. I threw my pack on and we agreed to stop for the first decent campsite we saw.

Surprisingly, that was not far down the trail. It even boasted a fire pit and a stream. We all set up and Memphis immediately set about to make a fire for the early stop. We all cooked, chatted, and slept an extra hour or two that night.

Lake Ann Pass seemed like the top of the world.

In the morning, we charged uphill to Lake Ann Pass. It was another long, steady climb with nothing but rocks toward the end. We definitely had stopped at the best campsite on the way up, which made all of us pleased. Lake Ann Pass gave us a whole new valley of scenery to stare at in awe.

The rest of the day, we spent descending and meandering around in large aspen groves. We passed one strange individual. He was obviously a hunter and not very chatty, although not threatening under what appeared to be segments of an elk he had shot and compartmentalized in large bags on his external frame pack.

We wanted to get up toward Cottonwood Pass to better get across 14 miles above treeline the next morning. This meant that we had to climb 2,000 ft at the end of the day into the waning sunlight. We managed to finish the climb and find a not so great campsite right off the road. A large group of loud people came up to park and look at the brilliant array of stars. They howled at the moon.

Coming up to Cottonwood Pass and the view of the next day’s ridgeline.

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We took the Anaconda cutoff to save time later; saving about 80 miles meant that we will have four days of extra wiggle room later on for weather. The first fifteen miles or so of the road walk went along nice dirt forest service roads. We entertained ourselves with some 90s music and whatever we could find on the side of the road. Easily Distracted lived up to her trail name and found all sorts of things including a large antennae.

When we hit the paved road and crossed under interstate 90, we found Uncle Buck’s. As a bar on the road walk, seemed like an excellent place to stop and rest, but unfortunately it was out of business. Hearing that an outdoor faucet still worked, we walked around and found it with a bit if shade. As true hiker trash, that was good enough and we plopped down in the shade, stretched, got water, and laughed at our situation.

Heading down the paved road, we had about ten miles to go into Anaconda and the motel we wanted to stay at was, for once, at the close end of town. Right beforehand, there was a gas station. 

The Darkness: “How good do you think those are?” Pointing at the wrinkled hot dogs in the gas station.

Scallywag: “Between 3 and 9 days old.”

The Darkness: “3 days old isn’t that bad…” Buys.

We headed into Anaconda, got a room and found Tortoise trying to quit because of a blister. A bad blister, but a blister. We tried to convince him out of it or to rest and skip a section and meet up with us later.

The next day, we stalled on hiking out, not looking forward to more paved road walking. Instead, we managed to get lunch, then hang out in Tails and Chaps’ room for awhile. At the grocery store resupplying, we ran into S.O.L., Andrew, and Wagon Wheel.

When we finally did leave town, we had to continue walking through another mile of houses and other establishments like Dairy Queen. Naturally, that stopped us a bit. Weather was beginning to move in and we were looking for excuses not to be in the rain.

After we used up all our excuses to stay in town, we walked past the last buildings and down the road. The Darkness and Scallywag got a little ahead of E.D. and I.

We looked up later to see them standing without their packs looking curiously back at us. Confused, we looked at them, then over their shoulders to a sign that said, “Ranch Bar.”

The big distraction.

Wanting to get out of the weather, we all ducked into the bar and immediately ordered a shot and a beer. The bar had only a handful of local old men, but included some slot machines, a jukebox, and a pool table. Convenient.

What was supposed to be just having a beer out of the rain turned into pool and jukebox playing and at 11pm, we stumbled out planning on finding a stealth ish spot on the side of the highway. Luckily, we had a designated hiker, Scallywag.

Scallywag herded us along as we encountered a cat and then a skunk.

E.D.: “A meow again?”

Scallywag: “No…no no no…skunk…back away slowly. Its tail is pointing at us!”

Thanks to Scallywag, we all still smell normal…or at least only like dirty hikers.

Around midnight, we gave up on stealth camping and camped in a ditch on the side of the road. It seemed like it had more tree protection than it actually did the next morning.

Scallywag made sure we were all up the next morning cheerfully and he was met with some stares and glares.

Headphones in, we stumbled down the road toward a campsite we knew had water and took a break there to dry out our tents. Soon after, we turned off the paved road and onto a pleasant dirt road that snaked upward toward Twin Lakes.

There were several splits and turns in the road to which we tried to pay attention. When this sort of thing occurs, it almost always unfailingly goes up. So, at one junction, we go up. Not long after, we see a sign that directs us up to Twin Lakes, where we needed to go. About a mile up that trail, we stopped for lunch. We checked Guthook. We are “off trail.” We check Gaia, we are “off trail.” We check Ley’s map, we are “off trail.” Shit. But we were very clearly on trail. All three sources said we should still be on a dirt road, not a trail. The maps showed a pack trail near where we were which did not go to Twin Lakes, but to the other side of the ridge, not in the direction we needed to head.

In this confusion, as we debated about bushwhacking about a quarter mile down to the dirty road which we seemed to be paralleling, a young bro walked by with a half liter water bottle, cotton T shirt and a flat brim hat. We asked him the stupid question if the trail went to Twin Lakes. He gave us the best answer…”yeah, it splits up ahead…I don’t think you need GPS for this…”

Great. Thanks…bro.

We continued up toward the lakes as storm clouds began to form. Right as the the cold wind began, I ducked off trail to dig a cat hole quickly before the storm.

Jumping back onto the trail, I threw my rain gear on fast and was greeted with hail. I trudged upward and found the other three snuggled together under some trees wrapped in Tyvek. I joined in wrapped in my trash bag rain skirt. We waited out the rest of the storm huddled together. I dozed off a bit, still tired.

When it stopped, we reluctantly got up and hiked up five more miles toward Storm Lake. On the way up, we encountered Hawkeye heading north. I told him about Hot Lips.

Sock drying

There was quite a steep little section on the way up there, but the lake was beautiful. We found a good campsite, made a small fire, and used it to dry out our wet socks. It strongly reminded me of the AT.

The morning was cold and we slowly got our stuff together and headed up Storm Lake Pass to Goat Flats where the Anaconda route met back up with the Butte route. The pass was nicely switchbacked. Beautiful views spilled from all sides.

And thus began the era of large PUDs; however, they could almost not be called PUDs because all had glorious views.


From Goat Flats


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