Anticipation of Segment 8 left me restless and uneasy all night, not because of fear, but because of excitement. When I woke up at 3:30, I did not feel rested whatsoever, but was eager to start the day just the same. Of all of the segments on the CT, this is without a doubt, my favorite.
Starting out in the dark is never an easy task, but dense fog at Tennessee Pass slowed me considerably on this day. Footing was slick on the descent from Tennessee Pass to Camp Hale. Even though it’s only about 5 or 6 miles, it took nearly two and a half hours, a journey that usually only takes an hour. Because it’s almost all downhill (northbound) to Camp Hale, I had hoped for a faster start, but in the mountains, nature controls everything.
Whenever I go through this segment, I always pause to give thanks to the men of the 10th Mountain Division, who trained here and fought valiantly in World War II.
I expected to make the 3,000’ climb to Kokomo Pass by 7:30 or 8:00, but didn’t summit until almost 10:00 A.M. I was slowed again by the rock fields of Searle Pass, but made good progress once I got to treeline. I was optimistic that I’d get to Copper Mountain at a decent time and buy a couple of bottles of Mountain Dew, something I always treated myself to whenever I’d get into civilization. It was always a special moment – ice cold and loaded with sugar and caffeine! I arrived in Copper Mountain at about 3:40 P.M., purchased my soda and rested for about 20 minutes before starting up Segment 7.
From the west side, it’s a grueling climb, ascending several thousand feet of steep terrain. Once to the top, I was treated to the annual display of wildflower growing in the alpine tundra. For the first time, I felt like the end was near. Tonight, I would be able to sleep in a real bed at my friends’ house in Breckenridge.
The last seven miles of downhill running seemed to take forever and I was now noticing IT Band pain in my left leg. I arrived in Breckenridge around 8:30 just as the sun was setting. Despite the emergence of yet another new pain in my body, I reflected and felt blessed. Today was a good day, a good day indeed.