Day 10 — Hard But Beautiful

Tuesday, August 14, 2018 — Miles 104.4–117.6 (13.2 miles for the day)

Mom and I both sleep lightly but comfortably, and before we know it the day is upon us. We’re going to slack pack the 13.2 miles of segment 7 between Breckenridge and Copper Mountain today, meaning we’ll leave most of our gear at the inn. We only take my mostly empty backpack with food, water, and extra layers, and we’re feeling optimistic about our “easy” day.

But before the hiking begins, we find a bakery in town and enjoy a tasty and filling start to the day. It’s in this moment that I find myself wishing I was on a real vacation, with no pressure to climb a mountain today. It’s a fleeting thought, but one that will haunt me over the course of the day.

After that, we catch the shuttle back to the trailhead, and we’re soon huffing our way up the side of the mountain. We have 8 miles of steep up today followed by 5 miles of even steeper down.

We make good progress, and mom handles the hike like a champ. We stop often to enjoy the spectacular views, views that lessen the harshness of the hike.

Our pace is slow, though. I had imagined a 3:30 finish, but it gets steadily pushed back to 4, 4:30, 5:00. By 2pm we’ve reached the summit and take a brief pause to enjoy the feeling of having conquered such a stunning mountain range.

All downhill from here, but that proves to be just as tedious and painful, and it’s 6:00pm by the time we finally get down. Everything hurts! The shuttle situation proves to be more complicated on this side of the mountain, and I calculate that we won’t get back to the inn until 8 or 8:30.

Waiting for our ride; that’s the range we hiked over!

Hope is not lost, though, and we end up finding a single uber car in the area, who for a mere $30 and a 35 minute ride has us back to the inn just before 7:00.

We shower and hobble over to the Tap House for tacos and beer. Every movement is agony, and I’ve never felt so close to quitting this whole experience. But after good food and conversation and laughter with mom, I find that maybe I’ll keep going. We’ll see tomorrow.

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