The Colorado Trail: Segments 16-17

The last time we tried backpacking Segments 15-17 on the Colorado Trail, we got washed out about four miles into Segment 16.  It was time to make up Segment 16 and 17.  We decided to do two day hikes rather than camp again.  Segment 17 was 20.4 miles with an overall net declining elevation in the southbound direction which we completed first as it was longer than Segment 16 which totaled 16.2 miles.  We had to tack on an additional 0.4 to each segment in order to get to the car parked on the 4-wheel drive road.

I have to say after last weekend with spectacular views and wonderful wildflowers on Segments 23-25, these two sections were terribly anti-climatic!  Segment 17, in particular, was unfortunately quite boring.  I think I may have only taken 20 pictures in 20 miles.  There were a few sporadic wildflowers and perhaps one view that was blighted by a forest of beetle kill.  I wish I could say something nice about the section, but for the most part, the only nice part was the company and the raspberry bushes.

Dusty and I hiked Southbound while Margaret hiked Northbound, in order to do the key exchange and swap cars at the end of each trailhead.  We had stayed The Lodge at Saguache the first night for $20 per person as it was within an hour of both trailheads.  The lodge was nothing to write home about, but we had a roof over our heads, clean towels and linens, and a nice lady that helped us.

For our second hike, however, two of us needed to be closer to Poncha Springs, so we discussed the logistics over pizza at The Village Pub Pizza & Spirits.  For a small town, this place was pretty nice.  It had a great atmosphere and the pizza was delicious.  We arrived early, so the evening started out quiet, but soon the place filled up.  At that time, they could have used some more staff, but overall, we were glad to try the new place out.

Dinner discussions led Margaret and I to camp at the top of Marshall Pass while Dusty headed back up the 4-wheel drive road to Sargents Mesa where she slept in the car.  Segment 16 was nicer than Segment 17.  It offered a few more views and wildflowers.  The path was far less rocky as well which was a welcome relief.  A small aspen grove and a mining cabin made it a little more interesting too.  Unfortunately, we had to share the trail with motor bikes.  It’s not too exciting to breath the fumes, but they were nice, just as the mountain bikers on Segment 17 were extremely polite.  I felt sorry for most of them as they were walking their bikes over all the rocks!

While the hikes weren’t the most exciting, the path was much dryer than our last attempt.  In addition, it was a good choice to day hike these segments as there were limited water sources.  More importantly, the segments are complete, and I only have the last three segments to finish and celebrate completing the whole trail!  I’m very excited to accomplish this feat next week.  ETB



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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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