On our first cloudless day in quite a while Kim joined us for a hike up on Monarch Pass, about 18 miles west of Poncha Springs, CO. The Continental Divide Trail stretches for 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada, and we have hiked very small sections in many states over the years but missed this portion when we were in the area a few years ago. From Monarch Pass to Marshall Pass there is an 11 mile section called the Monarch Crest, a popular mountain bike trail, and also a great trail for a day hike.
Kim and Jim coming up the part of the trail that’s an old road. Although there were only a few short steep sections, at 11,000 - 12,000’ our lungs could sure feel it.
Besides hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, motorbikes are allowed on the trail. We only saw a few bikers, hikers, and two motorbikes. A weekday in September was the perfect time to be there.
We came across quite a few of these, amanita muscaria, a mushroom known to have hallucinogenic effects. Remember Alice in Wonderland?
Kim and I took lots of photos, while Jim kept his hands in his pockets much of the time as there was a very cold wind blowing once we got above tree line.
Jim headed back while Kim and I went a bit farther to a higher spot.
The top of this little hill was calling me, so we put our windbreakers on and I climbed up.
The views were breathtaking. I was definitely on a Rocky Mountain high, no mushrooms needed.
We turned around after four miles of relatively easy hiking, only gaining 900’ of elevation. Since it was a fairly easy eight miles, I think this would be a really great hike if you could leave a second car at Marshall Pass and do the 11 miles from pass to pass. Maybe next time…