CDT Day 71: all about burrow racing

Twin Lakes to Hagerman Road: 20 miles

Total miles: 1022.8

We decided to wait for breakfast at the lodge in Twin Lakes. We normally get hiking before 7am, but breakfast didn’t start until then. After breakfast I was getting ready to leave when Garrett asked if we should wait to hear from the doctor’s office in Breckenridge where I had an ultrasound scheduled. Due to the rain delay the previous days, we weren’t going to make it to my appointment in time, so I had called and canceled over the weekend and asked them to reschedule me for later in the week. We still had an hour and a half to wait for the office to open, but ultimately decided an hour and a half shouldn’t make that big of a difference in how far we walked today. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait that long anyway, as they called a short time later to confirm my new appointment. Success!

Having that matter taken care of, we walked the mile out of town in the road, then cut into the woods. The trail initially passed through a thick grove of aspen trees, but as we climbed higher we were swallowed by a softwood forest. Unlike the southern San Juans, these trees didn’t succumb to the beetle kill, and hopefully they won’t. The trail continued to gently slope up. We passed by a man running along side a donkey, and we asked what he was doing. As he trotted by he answered, “training for the burrow races.” That left us with a lot of questions, but we didn’t have to wait long to have them answered as another man came up the trail shortly after him walking a mule. To be completely honest, we thought it was a donkey too, but after a conversation with him we now can tell the difference between the two.

Apparently in this area of Colorado there is a burrow racing series, where you can push, pull, drag, or run a donkey; you just can’t ride it. The man told us he used to race them for 27 years before he “got smart” and started training others to race them instead. He explained that horses have all their strength in their hind quarters, while donkeys have their strength in their front quarters. Mules, being the offspring of a female horse and male donkey, have the combination of strength in all quarters, making them “4 wheel drive” instead of “2 wheel drive” like their parents. Thru-hiking can be rather boring at times, so its conversations like these that can really liven up the day.

After all the excitement of learning about miles and donkeys, we continued weaving up and down throughout the forest. Unlike the last section, we stayed in the trees all day, and the trail was well-maintained and had a good tread, making for easy walking. We passed a lot of backpackers and day hikers, but no CDT hikers.

As the sun started to shift in the sky, we realized it was after 6pm and started to be on the look out for a nice campsite. We found many established sites above Hagerman Road, with a little creek running by and stopped there. We ate dinner, but as we finished the mosquitos started becoming thicker. We set up the tent to escape them, and fell asleep shortly after.