Return to the Colorado Trail

Segment #6: Kenosha Pass to Breckenridge via Georgia Pass

In my continuing quest for miles with a minimum of elevation gain, I decided to try some point-to-point running on the Colorado Trail. The CT is great because, since it’s mountain-bikable, it’s usually not terribly steep or terribly technical. The problem is logistics trying to get from one end to the other. Fortunately, I enlisted the help of fellow mountaineering-running cross-over Brian for the car shuttle. We headed out Wednesday night, dropped a car in Breckenridge, then drove over to Kenosha Pass and camped for the night.

The last time I was on the Colorado Trail, it was a major epic; snow, darkness, lostness, and lots of blood. This time, we had much better luck. The first dozen miles from Kenosha pass were glorious; cool, sunny, with great views into South Park and some gradual climbing up to the top of Georgia Pass. We paused on the tundra to take in the view of the impressive Mt. Guyot before plunging back to lower elevations in a blistering descent to the North Fork of the Swan River.

Despite being minimum-elevation-gain run, there were still 4500′ of climbing including a thousand-some feet in a mile or two up the steep, forested slopes of the back of Keystone restort. By mile 20, I was feeling a little whipped and wondering about the wisdom of another half marathon on top of what I’d already done. Brian seemed to suffer no ill effects whatsoever and was a great pacer (practice for his pacing duties at Leadville in a few week’s time).

We continued through pine forest with occasional meadows and the weather started to become less inspiring as well. But we were going downhill more often than not and the end was at least plausible. By mile 22 or so, we’d both run out of water and the none of the stream crossings on the map actually materialized. Finally, at mile 27, we happened across a dirty, elk-poop-laden stream and paused to treat some water. It wasn’t ideal, but by that point, neither of us was too picky. After waiting the requisite 25 minutes while the chemicals did their thing… well, spirits and pacing improved dramatically. Water! Lovely water!

Feeling reasonably good, we crossed the 30-mile mark and descended steeply into the suburbs north of Breckenridge along CO-9. We were quite happy to reach the car after 32.6 miles and 8:30 of running and retired to the Breckenridge Brewery to consume a small portion of the reward we were due.

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