Backpacking on the CDT

Last weekend we went backpacking on the Continental Divide Trail to the 6 Fishing Lakes in Routt National Forest and it was amazing! We had previously done this hike (but camped on a different lake this time) and last year, it was raining/lightning almost the entire time. We got lucky and had spectacular weather the entire time! 

We decided to begin our hike earlier than we normally do backpacking (we typically don't start our hike until 2 or 3pm, but went out at around noon) and this gave us so much time in the afternoon to just relax and read and fish. We set-up our camp 3.5 miles into the trail at the 3rd lake we came to (Lake Elmo) and were the only ones there the entire time. The trail passes by our campsite a bit, but it was nice to have some passersby once and a while and still feel like we had the entire place to ourselves. 

At first, I was a little skeptical towards backpacking as being out in the woods by yourself and far enough away from anything & everything is a bit scary, but this trip was SO wonderful it really began to change my outlook towards backpacking. I also think this is a great trail for beginning backpackers (I've gone on maybe 10 backpacking trips & still consider myself a beginner) because it's not so remote that you feel helpless if something were to go wrong, but it's also a good distance from anything. 

We arrived to our campsite by 2 and cooked up some lunch (we typically just pack along some snacks and a few mountain houses to make clean up easy and keep our packs light) then set up our tent and relaxed! I think I probably read about 100 pages in my book on the trip and we saw maybe 30 fish jump (but sadly caught nothing...I'm beginning to think that there's some consensus between all the fish to not latch onto just our pole because others around us ALWAYS catch something). We also saw a giant moose pass about 200 meters by our campsite- it was so out of the blue that I didn't even have my camera on me to take a picture!

Sunset views from our tent

Sunset views from our tent

The views were so wonderful and my photos definitely do NOT do it justice! We got up the next morning around 7:30 and I headed out for my solo trail run shortly afterwards. I ended up getting stung by a bee on the top of my ankle about a mile in, but luckily I had my compression socks and that really kept the swelling down and I managed to get in 4.5 miles and reach the final 6th fishing lake, Long Lake (the biggest one) at an altitude around 9,200 feet (we camped at an altitude of just over 10,000 feet). 

The wildflowers were in bloom throughout our entire hike and the trails were really well maintained (it's a popular mountain biking trail as well). I'm so glad I was able to fit in some trail running because that's been on my wishlist to do for a while. This trial is also part of both a 10k that our local running series puts on (I'm thinking about signing up) and their annual 50/100 mile trail run! It's pretty cool to say that my training run was along these routes, as well as on the CDT. 

Overall, this was a perfect backpacking weekend. We got back to our car around noon on Sunday and that gave us the afternoon to do (what seemed like) a million loads of laundry and meal prep for the week ahead. HIGHLY recommend doing this as a backpacking trip if you're ever in Northwest Colorado- you can tie it into a loop hike for higher mileage (10 mile or 20+ mile round trip) if you want to. Happy hiking and trail running!