Day 75

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Monarch Pass to Upper North Fork Chalk Creek
22 mi ::
941 mi ::
44,650 steps ::
Afternoon clouds

Ann drives me back to Monarch Pass on a wonderful clear, sunny morning. She gets ready to day hike south to see the views I missed yesterday, and I take off north. My pack is much lighter pack without all my snow gear and only two days of food, and I have running shoes instead of boots on. I feel zippy and light on my feet.

I quickly hit the divide and walk across the crest of Monarch Ski Basin on it. The trail goes by some 5,000-year-old elk traps used by ancient hunters to corner whole herds of elk on the ridge.

I drop into a valley where I pass a reservoir, old mines, and ranger cabins. I start to realize these mountains are full of human history.

That realization continues as I reach the ghost town of Hancock and follow the ruins of the railroad grade up to the doomed Alpine Tunnel that spawned all the development in this area. The tunnel was part of a race to get rails to Gunnison. It lost to Marshall Pass to the south with an impressive array of derailments, rockslides, avalanches, and caveins. I peer at the old tunnel entrance now blocked with debris.

Above the old tunnel I start to get into the massive, broad peaks of the Sawatch Range. I pick a campsite that is positioned well to climb 13,100-ft Fitzpatrick Peak in the morning, on my way to Tincup Pass.

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One thought on “Day 75”

  1. Tom and I stopped at Monarch Pass July 5th on our way home from Salida. As we enjoyed the view, we wondered if you two would happen to stroll by. We wondered what you thought when you received our message that we and Pete and Jessie would be in the neighborhood during the weekend for Jill and Matt’s wedding, regretting that we were unable to link up with you. (Your posting tells us you probably didn’t get the message in time.)

    The clerk at the store didn’t remember seeing you recently. We considered leaving you a message in the trail book, until the clerk said it was just 2 miles down the trail. We were too lazy knowing that you may have already passed that way.

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