Friday, September 24, 2004
What a Day of Hiking
The sky let forth with only stars and some clouds last night, and I had
sunlight in the morning. No sign of bears, even in an established
My review of the maps last night did not bring good news. I'd be next to
nowhere if I hiked out the trailhead road. I'm clear that I don't want to
be roadwalking when I have the chance to be up high.
I decided to hike the CDT and to not bail. That decision made my retreat
from Devil's Thumb Pass yesterday a bit far, but they were easy miles.
I left my trailhead campsite next to the gentle creek and headed back the
way I'd come last night in the dark. Soon I rejoined the CDT, and was
southbound again, covering the same 3 miles and 2,000 foot climb to
Devil's Thumb Pass.
Since I knew the trail, the climb passed quickly, and got exciting in the
clear morning air. Toward the top, I could actually see the Devil's Thumb
rock formation. I could also see the amazing views that were only implied
in the whiteness of yesterday. With each step, and peek up, I knew I'd
made the right decision to resume on the CDT.
At the pass, I followed the few tracks I left yesterday along the Divide.
In the clearness of the day, I could see the indentation in the snow that
was the CDT. I was relieved that it was so clear today. I was walking in
3-6 inches of snow, all of it powder, so my foot sunk with each step.
From what I could tell, I wasn't too far off track yesterday. And, from
what I could see, I was glad I retreated.
I made my way up the Divide, and the views opened up.
When I say the day was clear, that is not to say that there were not
clouds. There were. Some were fluffy and white; others were dark grey and
menacing. None were in my face. I could see the green valleys below and
the white, rugged peaks around me.
At the 'top,' south of the pass, I could see the trail laid out ahead,
again as a continuous indentation across the landscape. Sweet.
Hiking up high, my elevation was around 12,000' all day, was fantastic.
The snow-capped mountains go on forever in some directions. The trail was
laid on the Divide and exposed all day.
The sun stayed on me for all of lunch, even as snow blown from a nearby
snow shower fell on me. During lunch I watched snow fall on both sides of
me. That patch of sun between the snow showers followed me for a while as
I walked through the snow and past snow covered rocks.
Then, just as I was leaving Rollins Pass (CO 13), the white came in and
the falling snow caught up with me. I chose a slightly lower route on a
road and trail to stay safe. The snow fell for about an hour, then I had
the views again. While walking on the lower route, the former route of a
rail line, I found some much-needed water. A spring on the uphill side of
the dirt road flowed across the road, gathering deep enough in a rut to
allow me to pump. I filled to capacity, not knowing when I would next
I was within eyesight of the CDT from the non-purple alternate route. I
could have done it, but I had no way of knowing. No thunder developed,
and not much snow fell. Still, I did not regret the few lower miles,
especially since I was able to get water. The alternate route ended at an
old railway trestle, which had huge old timbers. I love stuff like that.
I veered off the road onto the trail that would lead back to the CDT. The
snow was full of a variety of animal tracks.
I'm camped in sight of Rogers Pass (CO14), where I found a level, but
It's cold! I'm not really prepared to sleep on snow, but I know I can
manage. Did I mention that it's cold?