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Andy and I woke up after the detour with a major sense of accomplishment, and didn’t feel particularly rushed in the morning. We left a little before 9am, knowing that it was only about 8 miles to the Breckenridge turnoff, and then an additional 4 miles to Breckenridge along a bike path, where we were meeting his wife Ali, her sister Jesse, and their friends Indigo and Lisa for brunch.
We arrived a little bit before them – around 11am – and got our shopping resupply done at the local grocery store, before meeting up with them at a small breakfast joint in the heart of the town. It was a little strange to be sitting with friends and talking about various sundries with unwashed clothes (3 days and rising), dirty bikes locked to a street light, and people going about their daily business all around us. Yes, we had seen people along the trail, but not… domesticated people. The CT is wild, and that mostly includes the people.
Smoke and Mirrors
After saying our goodbyes, we headed out for Goldhill Trailhead, which was the start of a nefariously reputed hike-a-bike and descent. Unfortunately, when we got there, there was a police car and fire truck, with officers telling people they could not access the trail because of a small fire, which Andy and I had seen on the ride towards the trailhead.
Fortunately for us, there was a bike path that circumnavigated the entire mountain and got us right to the doorstep of the CT again. So we rode the 12 mile paved ascent all the way to our trailhead in an hour, and suddenly were WAY ahead of schedule. We could see the fire on the other side of the mountain though, and it had grown substantially since we had seen it an hour before. We would later meet a thru-hiker who had self-evacuated because she could smell smoke and found herself rushing down the mountain as smoke engulfed the mountain all around her.
Another Day, Another Climb
After our unplanned detour, we got back on the trail at Copper Mountain Resort and met a number of additional thru hikers. The weird thing about meeting thru hikers on the trail is that they all interact with each other throughout their hiking experience, giving each other trail names and learning about each other’s lives, whereas we bikepackers simply pass by and without seeing these familiar faces again. It’s not quite the communal experience that thru-hiking is, but you still get to meet a lot of really cool people, even if it’s short lived.
We set up camp around 6:30pm at 11,000 feet, a couple miles below Searle Pass, having ridden around 33 miles despite our long brunch, and climbing around 3,400 feet in elevation.
We also camped right next to a trail adopter named Dave, and his ever faithful work partner Bob. They commenced in sharing story after story with us about trails, folding saws, porcupine problems, and the like. It was a great way to end what would probably be our easiest day of riding.