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Fireweed - Continental Divide Trail Journal - 2014

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Mary "Fireweed" Kwart
City: Ashland
State: Oregon
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 10, 2014
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Thu, Aug 21st, 2014
Start: West Ute Lake
End: 3.5 miles west on the Colorado Trail in Elk Creek
Daily Distance: 11
Trip Distance: 778.8

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 370
Journal Visits: 26,673
Guestbook Views: 985
Guestbook Entrys: 4

Gear list

Continental Divide Trail Map

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Edgar the sheepherder and Lisa

Akbash LGDs proove a challenge over the Divide

What a day--what I thought would be pretty uncomplicated ramped up with unlooked for drama. The Murphy's Law of Backpacking. About 1/2 mile before the CT splits from the CDT to go down Elk Creek toward Molas Pass and ELk Park where I would flag down the train to Durango, I heard a lot of animal noises reverberating off a huge rock formation next to the trail. It eerily seemed that the noises were coming from the center of the rock. I at first though it was mountain sheep on the rock. But, walking a few steps further down the trail,l I saw the source of the noises--thousands of sheep grazing on the trail. What complicated this encounter were two very big white guardian dogs (I later learned they are referred to in the Rockies as "LGDs"--Livestock Guardian Dogs). They came rushing at me down from their hill perches, barking and growling. I couldn't see any human sheepherder anywhere. One of the dogs came closer and closer when I made no motion to retreat. SO I thought I would address him in a reasonable voice, like one is supposed to do when approached by an aggressive bear. "I'm only going up there on the trail. I mean no harm to the sheep. You're doing a good job, but you are impeding travel on a Congress designated national scenic trail, etc. etc." The dog listened for a moment, then huffed disgustedly and turned back to the sheep, indicating I wasn't worth the time to be listened to. I took this as an assent to my plan to move forward. When I continued on the trail, the dog came back in an equally menacing fashion. SO I decided to re-group, got out the GPS and plotted a large go- around through willows and marshy meadows around the flock to get to the ridge where the CT split off from the CDT. By giving the sheep a wide berth and moving obliquely to the position of the herd, I seemed to assuage the LGDs fears and they didn't come after me. When I arrived at the junction of the CT and CDT at mile 1.4 of CDT Seg 9, I saw a guy coming down the hill with two "regular" black and white sheepdogs--not like the white monsters I recently encountered. He had an old sweatshirt on, a floppy hat and had binoculars around his neck. He excitedly asked, "Habla Espanol?" "No, lo siento, poquito" I answered. But we carried on a halting conversation anyway. His name was Edgar and he came from Peru. He was away from the main flock looking for lost sheep he though maybe coyotes had gotten. His dog was Lisa, with her pup. We walked together on the CT for awhile. I expressed my dismay at the behavior of "Los perros blancos, muy grande" and he apologized. I liked his 'regular" sheep dogs and he took a picture of me with one that he hauled over to pose with it's paws on my hips. Amazing how submissive they were--the LGDs could take a lesson from them. We parted company with a Bueno Suerte and I went down the numerous switchbacks into Elk Creek canyon as it started to rain. This is one of the most scenic parts of the Colorado Trail. I made camp when the trail leveled out and flattened out next to the creek. Tomorrow--the train and Durango and warmth and real food! Ironically, a few days later the Denver Post had an article about hiker encounters with the LGDs--they were a special guard dog from Turkey called "Akbash".

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CDT New Mexico 2014

Fireweed

 

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