Centennial Trail

Sadly, my plan to sleep in this morning didn’t work out. I woke at 4:30am to see the refrigerator was displaying two glowing lights, indicating it needed to be reset. I got up to do so, only to realize the fridge was fine. My eyes were just extremely bleary. At that point I was pretty awake, so I read in bed and dozed on and off. Eventually, Ted had pity on me and made a delicious hash with last night’s leftover steak and potatoes.

We did have a relatively lazy start to our morning. We slowly got everything cleaned up and ran the generator. Finally we headed out for our hike. My cell didn’t want to load the maps so we wandered into town, looking for better service. Eventually, I realized my phone was loading too many things after such limited service and we got our proper headings. While we were in town, we might as well get some stamps and send out our postcards.

Finally we were on our way to the trailhead. Although it was only a few miles away, the route was rough enough to take nearly 45 minutes of driving. We traveled the far side of the lake and the road soon became more rustic. Not only was it not paved, but deep ruts and grooves made for slow-going. However, we love letting the truck do the bulk of the climbing for us. Up we climbed, at least a couple thousand feet. We were pleasantly surprised to find the trailhead wasn’t the large parking lot we were getting used to here in Colorado. Only a half dozen cars greeted us. We still weren’t moving quickly when we got to the trailhead. We took our time getting prepared and set off hiking around 11:30.

We got a bit of a false start on the trail, but soon found ourselves on an old service road. The trail climbed very slowly. In fact we were passed by mountain bikers about a mile into the hike. Our views of the cirque and the valley below were spectacular. After about 2 miles, the trail switches back and diverges from the road. The next mile was where we did most of the climbing. There were some pretty steep sections, but the historic signs explaining the ghost town distracted us. Apparently, this was where people who found Leadville to be a little too civilized got away from the hustle and bustle.

Past the huge boulder fields and lake, we climbed to the old railroad bed and made it to the Hagerman tunnel. This abandoned railroad tunnel was filled with ice and Blue was thrilled play again.

Most of the handful of hikers we encountered along the trail returned the way they came, but Alltrails recommended continuing along the rail bed to create a lollipop trail. This relatively flat section of trail passed through spectacular bird and flower territory. It was obvious that some of the sections had been dynamited to create an easy path for the trains and these narrow corridors were alive with flowers. Unfortunately, the mosquitos were also thick. We attempted to stop for lunch, but found we were being fed upon more than we were eating and kept walking while we snacked. Fortunately, the gorgeous scenery made up for the pesky bugs. We happened upon the second lake before loosing elevation and doubling back. The trail intersected with our original track just before we descended back to the service road.

Back at the campsite, we had plenty of time for nachos and reading. Dinner was chicken burgers over the fire. While Ted was walking Blue, he made friends with a couple looking to upgrade trailers and brought them back to tour ours despite the disorder inside. We spent the evening in pleasant conversations, swapping adventure stories and then enjoyed our fire.

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