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Colorado Trail -Segment 7

Aug 31 & Sep 1, 2003

Segment 7- Copper Mountain to Gold Hill Trailhead

Distance: 13 miles

Elevation Gain: 3600 feet

View Radio Activity- Log of all contacts and a little info about my qrp operation

Terry and I hiked segment 7 along with Terry's good friend Gail as a onenight backpack.  We made the hike from west to east, starting at Copper Mtn and hiking back to Gold Hill Trailhead.  Gold hill is located very close to Breckenridge Colorado.   This segment has an overall elevation gain of 3600 feet. For us, the majority of this gain was in the first 5 miles of the hike when we began at elevation 9800 feet and peaked at an elevation of about 12,500 feet.  This was probably the most grueling of our hikes up to this point.  

The weather prediction for Sunday was partly cloudy with thunderstorms.  As we drove from Conifer to Copper Mtn under solid clouds we crossed our fingers for the sun to peak out ahead of us.  We never did drive  completely out of the clouds but finally as we arrived at Copper Mountain we did see patches of blue sky.  Before beginning we discussed the fact that we would be on the peak of the mountain at about 1PM, prime lightning time but having driven the 90 miles to get here we decided to go ahead.  We were on the trail by about 9:30AM.  The first mile was an easy walk from the trailhead to the base of the mountain.  For the next 4 miles we would be climbing at the rate of 700 feet per mile.  As we started climbing the temperature started dropping and after mile 3 we all added a layer or two of clothes as we moved above treeline and began crossing tundra.  At this elevation (11,000 ft) the climbing also got to be more tiring and our trio of whining began.  One point of the trail had us hiking above treeline on a slope steep enough that we were a little nervous that if we slipped and fell we could roll all the way down to I70 which we could see a couple thousand feet below.  There were several 'false summits' along the way, points which looked like the summit as we approached but on arrival exposed yet another summit beyond.  At each of these the whine grew louder!  Finally after 4 hours of hiking we saw what we knew was the summit.  As we approached we crossed our fingers that the trailbuilders would show us some mercy and allow us to skirt the edge and go around the summit rather the making us hike straight over the top.  They did, and we avoided the last 400 or so feet of climb.  At our highest point the wind was blowing pretty stiffly so we stopped for long enough to put on one last layer of clothes and patter ourselves on the back for making it this far.    We continued down the east side of the mountain and within an hour we dropped below treeline again.  We had hiked for about 3 miles above treeline.  

Very shortly after our return to the trees, at arounnd 11,200 feet, we ran into a very nice flat area with a small, cold, clear running creek running down the middle.  This made a perfect camping spot for the evening.  We set up camp fairly early at around 3:30 or 4:00 but after that days hike we were ready for a rest and this was a great spot.  After setting up tents, radio gear and antennas we cooked supper and were in our tents by about 8PM and lights were out shortly after.  Look hear for a little info about my radio setup.  

The next morning we were back on the trail by about 9:30AM. Looking at potential camping sites on the way down we were very happy we stopped when we did as it was easily the best campsite on this side of the mountain.  Monday was a very pleasant 6 mile hike and we were back to the car by 1:00PM.  Along the way were great views of Dillon Lake and the Breckenridge area.  There was time for beer and mexican food at Frisco and then home for relaxing!

Ready to go at Copper Mtn

Hiking through tundra and towards the steep slopes

Trail above treeline is marked with stone pillars called 'cairns'

First nite campsite

There's the mountain we just climbed behind our tent

Supper time