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Split & Two Step
Begins: Aug 9, 2019
Date: Sat, Aug 10th, 2019
Start: Just north of Creede Cutoff, CDT mile 876.9
End: Low Point of saddle, elev. 11628, CDT mile 892.9
Daily Distance: 16
Trip Distance: 31.1
Hours Hiked: 9.6
Daily Ascent: 3518
Daily Descent: 3607
Max Elevation: 12800
Entry Visits: 62
Journal Visits: 1,828
Guestbook Views: 24
Guestbook Entrys: 1
Slow, Slower, Slowest
Slow, Slower, Slowest
As we fell asleep last night, there was a steady drizzle on the cuban fiber tent roof, which might also be mistaken for a tight drum head. Two Step and I often listen to rain sounds at night on our Amazon Echo device. But asking Alexa tonight to turn down the volume was to no avail. Regardless, I fell asleep within minutes.
I woke up about an hour later to the sounds of a much larger rain shower. Two Step was already awake, and we discussed closing the doors. But despite some wind, no rain was coming in, and closing the doors would cause the moisture in our breath to produce heavy condensation on the roof, and even result in dripping. So we took the easy route and fell back to sleep. Eventually the rain tapered and stopped, but the skies remained overcast.
We woke before our alarm at 5:50am to a chilly 38F and ominously cloudy skies. The combination of chill and high humidity had caused condensation on our sleeping bags and tent roof. We soon were wiping down the tent with our bandanas and squeezing the excess water out the doors. We had a quick breakfast in bed, and by the time we emerged from our sleeping bags it was a more moderate 43F. We took time to more thoroughly wipe down the tent, inside and out, to lighten our load and keep the inside of my pack dry. Everything we packed away was at least a little damp, but there was no hope of sun to dry anything out this morning. With all the wiping and drying, packs up did not happen till 7:45, but it was warm enough that we did not require a jacket as we headed up a hill that would take over three hours to climb.
We felt fairly refreshed after our nine hours of sleep, and initially we climbed for a couple hundred feet, and then had a straight or slightly downhill stretch, which was challenging but very doable. Since our climb was taking us from 11,700 to 12,800 feet, eventually the terrain got steeper and the effects of the thin air became more taxing, and our rate of ascent declined, and we began to take frequent rest stops.
But the view! We soon were well above tree line and we saw one range of mountains after another recede into the distance. The closest mountains and ridges were nearly completely green, covered with grasses and flowers, with small patches of snow. We were not too concerned with our lack of speed, since this was the tallest hill of the day and the extra time afforded us the opportunity to take in the views - and snap a few pictures.
When we popped over the final ridge, narrowly avoiding a large, hundreds of feet long, snow cornice, an equally inspiring view greeted us on the far side. The expansive view from the top showed us some small cumulus clouds building, but no sign of rain or rumbles of thunder. We headed downhill to our first real rest stop of the day - a stream reputed to be the last reliable water source we would come across today. Darn, another dry camp.
We came to a trail junction and saw a woman about 100 yards ahead and to the right facing away from us. We were surprised to see the CDT took a sharp left, and since she seemed occupied, we turned away and headed downhill. Later, I would look back and could barely make out that she was in fact following behind us on the CDT.
We came to the creek crossing and immediately dropped our packs and began filtering water. Two Step suggested eating lunch now, since the storm clouds were looking more formidable. As we ate, the woman we had seen caught up with us and introduced herself as Sarah from Santa Fe, New Mexico. We briefly discussed our plans, and found out she was going to stop for the day just ahead at Piedra Pass. She headed off as we were finishing lunch, but we soon saw her already setting up camp half a mile down the trail. We discussed the section of the CDT called the Knifes Edge, about fourteen miles ahead. She had been warned by a ranger that it was still treacherously icy, and had planned an extended detour around it. We told her we were planning on hiking ten more miles today, and then crossing it early tomorrow - and we really didnt have a back-up plan if that proved infeasible. Now a little bit concerned about tomorrow - we had not expected snow to still be on the trail - we all wished each other great hiking, and Two Step and I headed on.
The remainder of the day was a mixture of good fortune and a test of the limits of our endurance. The cloudy skies remained, but sun managed to peak through about half the time. We still had about 2000 vertical feet to climb over the next ten miles, and each time we hit an uphill, we slowed and eventually had to halt for rests. We just could not get enough oxygen to replenish our stores. We did pass one stream a few tenths short of ten miles into our day, and I couldnt help but observe that we could have been carrying about four pounds less of water for the last six miles. There was also a wonderful campsite that we looked at longingly as we passed. After a couple of hours we stopped in exhaustion for a brief candy bar snack, but were soon moving again.
We finally made it into camp at about 5:15. We would not have believed it would take almost ten hours to go sixteen miles, but we are well-positioned to reach the Knife Edge tomorrow before afternoon thundershowers arrive, and so we were exhausted but content. The clouds had returned, and there was only occasional muted sunlight, but we dried all of our equipment, made dinner, and were in bed by 8:00pm. Just as we were crawling into the tent, we heard the first thunder of the day and saw lightning flash. We may yet be in for a storm tonight.
From the CDT,
Split and Two Step
Split And Two Step's 2019 CDT Journey
The Continental Divide Trail is a national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada via New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. This unfinished trail can potentially span up to 3,100 miles. Learn more: www.continentaldividetrail.org
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