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Colorado Trail -Segment 9

July 19/20, 2002

Segment 9- Tennessee Pass to Lake Fork Trailhead

Distance: 13.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 1820 feet

View Log - Log of all contacts made

Terry and I left Conifer at around noon on Friday (July 19).  We originally planned to camp in a campground on Friday nite and start our hike on Saturday morning, camp out on Saturday nite and finish up on Sunday.  Instead, we got there early enough to start our hike on Friday afternoon and finish up on Saturday.

This was probably our most pleasant segment of the trail up to this point.  Most of the trail runs at an elevation over 11000 feet.  There is water all along the trail (this was  in a drought year for Colorado) and the scenery is tremendous.  There are several mount lakes and once we got to the higher elevations the trail was lined with many different kinds of wildflowers.  There are many camping sites in the vicinity of the mountain lakes.  We did not hike this segment exactly as outlined in the Colorado Trail guidebook as we got off the trail at Lake Fork Trailhead rather then going all the way to Hagerman Road.  This shortened the segment to 13.1 miles.  When we hike segment 10 we expect to add on the last piece of this segment, adding an additional 1.8 miles to segment 10.  We did this because the parking area at Lake Fork Trailhead is better then Hagerman Rd.   We set one vehicle at Lake Fork and then drove to the Tennessee Pass trailhead in about 45 minutes.

The Tennessee Pass trailhead is very large and accomodates many vehicles.  It is a jumping off point for several nordic ski and bike trails besides the Colorado Trail.  We hit the trail at about 4PM and by 6PM had hiked a little more then 4 miles and decided to set up camp just pass the West Tennessee Creek area. The hike to this point is an overall elevation decline and is very easy hiking. There were a couple of meadows that would make very nice camping spots within a mile or so of the trailhead that we passed by.  The area we chose was very nice but was within a couple miles of a gravel pit and we were able to hear the noise of the gravel pit well into the evening.    At this site I did my only radio operating of the hike.  I strung up my 83' wire with one end about 25' off the ground an the other leading into my tent.  I hooked up the k1 and was able to load up the wire on 15, 20, 30 and 40.  I also had my new Palm Mini Paddle out for its first backpacking experience.  Conditions were pretty good and I managed several qso's  with Missouri, Georgia and Utah.  

Saturday morning started with an easy hike to the Holy Cross Wilderness area.  Along the way we ran into a large marshy area with a beautiful mountain lake.  As we left this marshy area we discovered the remains of an old log cabin that was interesting to look through.  It was interesting to look a the obviously hand cut joinery of the logs and to notice what looked like a root cellar attached to the rear of the house.  Shortly after leaving this marshy area we ran into the sign announcing the Holy Cross Wilderness area.  The sign provides a great picture opportunity as it is backed up by the huge granite mountains of the continental divide including Homestake Peak at 13209 feet (luckily we didn't have to climb these!).  From here began a climb of around 800 feet to the Porcupine Lake area.  This was a difficult hike with our 50 lb packs but was definitely worth the climb.  As we sat eating our lunch and looking at the small mountain lakes (one of them no more then a lily pond with the current drought conditions) we commented that we were lucky to be experiencing one of the most beautiful places on earth.  And... it is made just a little better knowing that only the few people willing to make the long hike will be able to share it.   Just past the Porcupine Lake area there is a bit of a decline and then another difficult climb to the highest point on the trail,  a nearly treeless tundra area at 11680 feet.  From here we hiked a  long decline down into the Bear Lake area, an area with multiple mountain lakes.  After a short break a the last of the mountain lakes, we hiked the long decline to the Lake Fork Trailhead through an on again, of again sprinkle.