Another sleepless night. What had looked like a soft mossy ground on the ridgeline of the Divide turned out to have many subsurface rocks that seemed to pop up out of no where as I struggled to get comfortable. I found by curving and contorting my body to accommodate the pokey things worked for a while, but as a notoriously restless sleeper, that position only worked for a short while. Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead.
Since I was ridge-top I had reception on my phone soon after hiking and called my parents who were on their way to meet me, I decided I wanted to see them today, this being a really tough week with setting myself on fire, destroying some of my gear, losing and breaking some of my gear, and just plain tired from the 100+ miles from the last few days.
And am I GLAD I did.
I ended up having one of the roughest days on the trail so far. Maybe my legs were really tired from the long miles. Maybe I was tired from not sleeping well. Maybe I was just needing some TLC from my folks…regardless I walked for 12 hours barely eating and not taking any breaks. First I wanted to make good time to meet my parents at highway 50, then I started to encounter snow which slowed my progress SIGNIFICANTLY.
It was patchy and then just down right blanketing the tree-bound north slopes, luckily I had some trusty footprints to follow, who ever had hiked before me kept to the trail like a moth to a flame. Thats always helpful!
I reached Marshall Pass about 11am, and spying some ATVers, I approached them and soon was drinking a delicious bright blue energy drink and posing for photos for the curious Texans. Then a couple of guys from Minnesota rolled up wanted to go for a run on the CDT, and when I informed them it was snow to the south, and looking at the profile for the north and seeing a steady climb, most likely snow to the north, they weren’t sure what to do, but we had a good chat and I continued north. It was only 5 miles to where the Colorado Trail intersected the Divide, I thought I might take that alternate since the next section reaches almost 13,000 and most certainly will have some sketchy snowy exposed sections.
I pushed on, knowing the sunny exposed slopes near the ridges will probably have less snow. Nope! Snow, lots of snow. I struggled, cursed, walked, just kept going forward, walking, swimming, sinking, postholing, despairing. Again, great footprints to follow, but I must be hiking later in the day than the others and would sink lower with each step. Keep going! Your parents are meeting you!
When I saw the divide and the corniced slope where the footprints went I just had to laugh. You are kidding! This trail takes me places I wouldn’t normally go, but when it’s the only way forward, you suck it up and go.
I reached the crest and breathing hard up the steep exposed slope, praying that the thunderclouds above would wait just another hour or two, I found more snow. And do you know who my constant companions were in the snow? Mosquitos! In what circle of hell do I have to posthole for hours while being bothered by mosquitos???
So I made my way to where the Colorado Trail dips down Fooses Creek and just crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t have to cross over some scary cornice to drop down. Wow it was steep, but I saw some footprints going down, I’m not the only one getting out of this snow.
Time to glissade! And man, conditions were ripe for a wet avalanche, but I kept to the treed sections thinking they would help anchor the snow, and just went for it…and success! for a while…continue the postholing for another hour, but i knew I would reach dry land eventually! And it was getting later and later. I couldn’t stop. If I stopped I might not start again…keep going!
Thankfully the storm that was overhead waited until I was out of the snow to unleash its fury. It started pouring, but i was on trail. Trail!
But I was beaten. I walked and walked and tried to be optimistic but just felt completely done through and through. I barely made it to the road where my parents rounded the corner on the highway, and started balling. It was so good to see them, especially when I needed them most. I’m 38 and still need my parents, I’m not ashamed!
Oh the joy of sitting down after 12 hours and eating, they had fruit! I hadn’t really eaten all day, the snow taking every last bit of my concentration and energy, I just had no time for food, and I felt like crap because of it.
Oh the joy! My folks had their RV out from Illinois and were in a campground just down the road from where I popped out on the road. Before I knew it I was sitting inside, showered, drinking a beer, and feeling a million years from where i was an hour ago.