Colorado Trail, Day 38: Blackhawk Down


Cascade Creek really lived up to its namesake! We awake to the soothing sounds of waterfalls seemingly all around us. We gaze at the prominent falls right in front of our peninsular campsite as we sip on our morning coffee and chat with Rob and Amy over breakfast. Before bushwhacking our way through the willows and over the creek back to the trail, I take a quick peek at the cascade that plummets 40 feet off to the right of our campsite and snap a pic. We are all in a good mood after a restful night of sleep and so grateful to have ended up with such an impressive site. 


We set off on a cool but sunny morning with blue skies that are a bit hazy because of the California fires. We stop at the bridge over Cascade Creek for some pictures before traversing around the hill and through the forest for a while.

After a few quick miles, we drop down to a creek that is flowing over white colored rocks. It looks like calcium carbonate, but we can’t figure out whether or not it’s naturally occurring or if it has seeped from an old mine. It reminds us of the springs in Pamukkale, Turkey, even though there seems to be nothing geothermal affecting it.

We hike for several miles across varying terrain until we reach the end of the segment at Bolam Pass. Rob and Amy are hoping to filter water at Celebration Lake. Unfortunately, the water doesn’t look great, and the outflowing creek has gone dry. Just before we depart a convoy of ATVs drives past on the road disturbing the otherwise peaceful morning.

We climb through the forest briefly and then emerge onto a thin trail that contours a hillside with open meadows and vistas to distant mountains in the background. It’s sunny, getting a little warm, but gentle breezes and the elevation above 11,500 feet keep us cool enough.

We eventually make our way to a small saddle from which we can infer where Blackhawk Pass must be. We stop for a leisurely lunch atop a grassy knoll and bask in the warm sun. The conversation flows easily, and the miles and hours seem to tick away without our paying much attention. It’s great to share the trail and have deep conversations with old friends who share the same love for the outdoors and for travel.


After lunch, we contour around a natural bowl and switchback our way up to Blackhawk Pass which has nearly 360 degree views to all the surrounding peaks. The sky is hazy in the distance, but the colorful rocks around the pass really jump out.

From here we descend a few miles to Straight Creek. The CT Databook indicates this is the last viable water source for 22 miles, so we all take time to top off our water bottles and even filter an extra 3 liters each for camp. Luckily, Rob and Amy have cached water for us in their car about halfway through tomorrow’s hike, so we should be fine.


From here we follow the trail down in search of a decent campsite. There’s not too much in the way of level sites, but, after doing a few tarp tests, we eventually find a spot that will do. We pitch our tents and gather on the grassy “front porch” for coffee and dinner followed by some delicious sea salt and caramel dark chocolates for dessert. We chat about future travel ideas and share thoughts on where we might like to meet up again.


As the sky fades to black we see the first stars shining through. The red planet, Mars, is the most visible just above the horizon. We wish each other good night and turn in for the evening. With under 50 miles to the end, we try to savor every moment we have left on the CT.

Day 38 Stats


Starting Point: Cascade Creek, mile 425.8
End Point: Trailside camp below Straight Creek, mile 441.6
Mileage: 15.8
Segment: 25 & 26
Date on Trail: August 7, 2018

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