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2010 hike of the Colorado Trail, incl databook corrections

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2010 hike of the Colorado Trail, incl databook corrections

Postby tschofie » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:07 pm

Three Blocks of Raman, at

Includes pictures, stories, and at the end of each segment, suggested updates to the data/guidebook.

A sample snippet from Segment 23:

I think I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: there's not much to cook on, up here. Massed willow bushes, such as the ones around the beautiful Cataract Lake, do a good job of cutting the worst of the wind, but their branches do not burn well at all, and stink when set alight. In fact, the only place in this segment where you can reliably cook over a fire is early on, around mile 1 - 2, where there are clusters of small, wind-twisted pines just downhill, to the left of the trail.

I stopped there to cook some lunch -- General Tsao's Chicken from Backpacker's Pantry. It was meant to be dinner the night before, but it hadn't actually occurred to me that starting campfires might be a tad difficult at 13,000 feet, in large part because there is nothing up there to burn. But there was just enough deadfall around mile 1 to start a tiny little fire. Now, I knew from sad, sad experience that Backpacker's Pantry meals (or at least, the two varieties that I tried) will not cook properly above 11,000 feet or so. If you pour boiling water in the package and then seal it up, as directed by the instructions, you'll be left with a cold meal and crunchy rice in a mere 45 minutes. So, thinking myself very clever, I simmered some water and then poured in the powdery, food-like substance.

General Tsao's Chicken gelled in the bottom of that pot like a layer of mud, looking sullen. I stirred. I covered. I steamed and simmered and even attempted to boil that General Tsao's Chicken with the mere heat of my cursing. (Calling it 'chicken' by the way, is a stretch. The meat-like chunks are really just soya pieces, similar to but less tasty and less numerous than the soya pieces we used to buy in Malawi for fifty cents.) Eventually, I gave up and just ate it. The rice wasn't crunchy, but the carrot pieces still were -- and interestingly, they emerged a day or two later looking *precisely* as they had when going in. Who knew that dried carrots were indestructable at altitude by the human digestive system? I'm going to try dried corn, next, just to see if its consumption produces the same degree of flatulant jet-propulsion. Really helps with those climbs, yanno.

It was shortly after consuming this 'meal' that I limped down to Cataract Lake, one of the small alpine lakes which are the highlights of this segment. I could tell from far above that someone had already set up camp, for there was a tent, but no sign of occupancy. I circled around to the other side of the lake, and started to set up my own camp. It was then I discovered that Cataract Lake appears to be filled with the spawn of Cthulhu.

I'm not sure what else they might be. Strange little half-translucent creatures, some as long as my pinkie finger and about that wide, with little sweeping mouthparts; they definitely appear to have come from the remoter gulfs of cosmic space. The water I scooped up also contained a selection of twisting red worms, and some kind of fast-moving waterflea. It took a couple tries to get water that wasn't visibly inhabited, and I dropped in some iodine just to make sure.

Eventually, I noticed movement in the other camp, and went to say hi, and also to warn the other hiker that, when the apocalypse comes, it would probably rise from this very lake, so it might be prudent to go around armed. The other hiker paused noticeably when I called out, then walked down to meet me. "Oh good!" she said, smiling. "It kind of looked like you might be a gimpy old mafia don in a boiler hat and a trench coat. From a distance, you know." That is, in point of fact, exactly what I looked like -- limping down the hillside dressed all in black, smothered in raingear, wearing a mashed and misshapen hat, and with my belly full of fermenting carrot bits. "But boy, it's nice to meet another solo female hiker on the tra..."

"You realize that lake is filled with the spawn of Cthulhu? Millions of them! Right there in that lake!" I told her, waving a sharpened trekking pole in one hand and my pocketknife in the other, in vigorous illustration.

There was a long, long silence. Rebecca eyed me doubtfully. "Maybe you should move your camp to where I can keep an eye on you," she ventured.

There's probably strength in numbers, I figured, in case a giant, squid-like, Lovecraft-ian Great Old One decided to rise in the middle of the night. Cthulhu definitely wasn't going to be pleased about that iodine I'd used on its demon star-spawn, after all. "Okay!" I said happily, and went to get my tent.

The next morning (apocalypse evidently averted), Rebecca decided to walk the following portion of the trail with me, Rebecca decided to walk the following portion of the trail with me, possibly to keep me either from frightening other hikers, or from wandering off raving into the trackless wilderness. When not rescuing deranged trekkers, Rebecca mountainbikes avidly, and....
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