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Lastonthebus - Continental Divide Trail Journal - 2014

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Lastonthebus (LB)
City: Fort Collins
State: CO
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 19, 2014
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Wed, Jun 11th, 2014

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 535
Journal Visits: 5,091
Guestbook Views: 328
Guestbook Entrys: 2

Last PLB Location

Continental Divide Trail Map

Snow and cold, San Juan beauty

When was the last time you needed an ice axe to go get drinking water? Mine
was tonight! I'm exhausted, frozen, sore, hungry and a bit shaky from
adrenalin..... but I feel great!
The first couple of days into Colorado were filled with snow piles to climb
over and posthole into. Our feet have been wet and cold for 3 days from the
constant melt water and snow, then freezing again at night. Today, we
started hitting steep snow slopes and we finally got our opportunity to use
ice axes and microspikes (smaller version of a crampon.)
There were certainly steep angles throughout the day, but when it gets
really hairy is a steep angle snow with sharp drops or cliffs below you! We
hit our first one just before noon, falling would mean a 1,000ft + slide
over the edge into the rocks below. Adrenalin surged as I walked across it,
using my ice axe to support me.
Since I don't have any snow training or experience, I was a bit nervous. I
looked at the edge and my knees started to shake, so I just concentrated on
each step.
It didn't take long to get across and afterwards everyone had big smiles on
our faces!
We're camping on a pass tonight at almost 12,000ft, going to be a cold one!
Since there's no water at the pass, I had to take my axe and walk back
along a steep sidehill to grab some for everyone, what a day!

It's been a few days of gloriousness as we ate our way through pagosa
springs and enjoyed the warmth of lower elevation. Let me try to illustrate
what it's like to hike through the san juans this time of year. It's always
cold unless you're in direct sunlight. It's always windy...period.
Your feet are cold and wet from the second you get up to the second you go
to bed. The elevation plays with your hunger, mine goes from non-existent
to full throttle in about 5 minutes.I get stomach cramps I'm so hungry. My
legs freely bleed from crashing through snow crust repeatedly.
The amount of work it takes to hike the san juans is huge, you add in the
snow we've walked through and it becomes monumental. We're fully exhausted
every day up here, even only walking 12 miles a day!

After our time in pagosa we were faced with a choice. We could either hike
what's known as the creede cutoff, or take the high route through the san
juans. The cutoff takes a few days at lower elevation and is what most
people are doing this year. The high route is filled with snow and some
steep traverses and takes 7 days longer than the cutoff. With the late
snows in Colorado, most people decided to avoid the high route, some have
even hitched to Wyoming to walk southward to let the snow melt further. We
decided that we wanted our trip filled with a bit more adventure, so we
decided on the high route. We know at this point that at least 1 person has
made it through the high route and several more are a day or two ahead of
us. The big obstacle facing us is the knife's edge about 25 miles ahead.
It's a very steep snow wall that has a long drop beneath it. We all have
ice axes and microspikes with us now, so safety is paramount. But the
anxiety is palpable and I'll be glad to put that behind me.

Entry 5 of 6
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You're Never Gonna Make It

Steve Gillan
Homo Sapien


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