Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Marshall Pass visit

This past weekend I did the work needed to go visit Kasey and Liz on their hike. After letting my drivers license lapse a couple of years ago, I finally got around to taking the road test that I needed to get it back. Many thanks to Holly for picking me up and letting me borrow her car for the test. I then contacted our friend Dawn to borrow her car for the weekend. Many thanks to Dawn for letting me use it all weekend. I knew that they were supposed to be getting a resupply on Marshall Pass sometime this weekend, but their cell service was way too spotty for them to let me know exactly when they actually got there. Thursday is when I finally knew that I'd be able to make the trip up and it turns out that is when they made it up there so they didn't even get my text to them that I was coming. 

Marshall Pass summit
With all the prep work done I headed up after work on Friday. I left work an hour early to make sure I could get up there with some daylight to spare. The final 12 miles of the trip was up a bumpy dirt road and I had no access to Google Maps to make sure I was really headed the right way. Luckily there aren't too many turn offs so it was easy to find. When I made it to the top of the pass there was initially no sign of humans, plenty of cows though. I got out and started hiking up the trail to see if I could find a place to camp. Not far up I saw a cabin across a swamp and then I saw a woman in a skirt. Who else could that be, but my Kasey. I called across and she got all excited to see me. I ran back to the car and found the side road that led to the cabin. Their official resupply was from another friend, Dick, and he had already cooked them dinner and fed them beer, 2 bottles of Chimay and some boxed wine if I recall correctly. I settled in and they warned me of all the cow patties scattered about the camp. It turns out this area is a cow camp and there are many cattle roaming freely about. It wasn't too long before the sun set and we headed to bed.

View from the cabin as the sun set against the hills.
In the morning the girls were ready to get moving again as they had been there since Thursday. I had originally planned to stay at the pass all weekend because I thought they'd be getting there Friday and want to take a day off. That didn't stop me from asking to tag along for their hike on Saturday. I had everything that I needed to camp including a large enough pack to carry my stuff so I packed it all up and joined them hiking in my worn out road racing flats. Lack of proper shoes wasn't as bad as it could have been. Some dirt got in, but because I can slip them off and on very easily emptying them was not a problem and I only had to do it a few times. Getting to hike with Kasey gave me plenty of time to catch her up on happenings at home and I got to hear about many of their adventures from the past few weeks. 
Hiking behind my best gal in an inspiring aspen grove.
The scenery was gorgeous and constantly changing. We had lots of pine forest, but would then open to fields with grand vistas. We also went through a couple of nice aspen groves. We were almost always going either up or down, but most of it was not too steep. There were a couple of places with a steep descent and some of them quite rocky which was the biggest challenge for my shoes. We saw quite a few mountain bikers including one through biker. There were also quite a few motor bikes out, especially towards the end of our day.
A panorama along the way
We finished our planned 11 miles around 3 o'clock at Tank 7 creek. There were some dark clouds rolling in accompanied by some loud thunder as we reached our destination so we got our tent up as quickly as possible. Luckily all we got were a few sprinkles as the storm skirted around us. A couple of other hikers came by a little while later and had to stop to dry out some of their gear as they had caught the brunt of the storm about a mile back on the trail so it must have just missed us.

Our valley home for my one night out.
We had fun hanging our bear bag, although we were more afraid of the marmots and chipmunks than any bears although Kasey did locate some scat that could have been from a bear. We also spent more time than was practical attempting to build a water diversion system on the uphill side of our tent in case it rained. Fortunately it didn't rain because I have my doubts about how well it would have worked. We headed to bead before the sun was down. I was pretty tired and fell right asleep.
Kasey and Liz
In the morning we were up around 6:30 and after a quick breakfast we had camp torn down by 7:00. We said our goodbyes and each departed on our own way. Me back to the car, the girls further south moving ever closer to Durango. I had an uneventful hike back and made pretty good time. She is having fun out there, but has been missing me and I've been missing her so it was good to see her and catch up in person.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Love & support delays

We are moving along the trail very well and meeting tons of people.  It is an amazing journey of struggle and fun all at the same time. 

When we planned this trip, we figured on 10mile days.  Who knew we are way more amazing than that!?  We are currently 2 days ahead.  So, what is one to do?  Take really short days, right?  Well, ... that hasn't worked out right either.

On 9 July, we traversed about 15miles to the base of a big climb for the next day (2500ft in 4.8miles).  The idea was to conquer the horrible climb and descent and keep the day short.  Unfortunately, we ended up conquering the whole trip by 11am.  So, we decided to go a little further.  Then, we missed the unmarked trail for the lake we were planning on sleeping at for the night.  Thus, we plugged on for a total of 12miles for the day.  This mistake put us even closer to our 14 July destination & in the dilemma of figuring out what to do...hot springs for 3 days or a day in Buena vista.  Due to catching a friend we made on our way to Twin Lakes, & his friend taking him to Buena Vista, we found our way in to town.  Those two were easily convinced to hang in town & thus we have a ride back to the trail tomorrow morning, afternoon, or whenever they finally get their drunk butts together to head for the trail.  Still, we have the problem of being early to meet our drop.  I guess we will figure it out & have fun doing so. 
These are the simple pleasures of the trail.  It is an amazing journey.  I am extremely thankful for all the love & support.  The little changes and extra days in towns has been fun and educational.  It is all part of getting to know the state of Colorado!  Thank you! 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

4th of July

So, it has been 3 days and 2 nights on the trail & I am back in Leadville.  This is beginning to feel more like a vacation than a backpacking adventure.  At the same time, we have simply turned out to be better backpackers than anticipated.  We are 2 days ahead of schedule, but reservations & food drops lock us in to shorter days & sticking to the original schedule.  Thus, we are here in Leadville through the 4th. 

It is alright being in towns, but these extended stays are sometimes a little much.  Staying at a hostel can be rewarding and trying.  After being in the woods basically alone for a couple weeks, it is a little bit of a culture shock being surrounded by people from day hikers to tourists to new residents looking for housing to cyclists and beyond.  I just want to find a small little corner to hide from people & have some alone time.

Outside of the weirdness being in a hostel and being faster than anticipated, the trek is going rather well.  I'm amazed how well I am doing after the Marathon on Saturday.  Granted I am slower than before.  Altitude makes it difficult to catch your breath. Then, I also wonder what kind of damage I have done bruising my sternum here in Leadville 4 years ago.  Some days I feel it more than others. 

We are still watching the West Fork Complex fires & it appears as though, today, we have a reroute.  These fires in the southwest of the state have affected segments 21-23 and the east side of segment 24.  There are 28 segments total for the CT, & we are on segment 9; to give perspective on the trek and distance to the major fire in the southwest.  In other words, we have a while until we reach that area.  If you figure 8 segments in 2 weeks, then we have about 3weeks until we hit the fire zone!  Wow!  Looking at it that way makes it seem way closer! 

Anyway, we are in Leadville, CO for the next couple days.  We had hamburgers today, bought beer & real food, talked to the locals, & showered.  It has been a full day already.  I'm hoping tomorrow might be more relaxing; however, we have plans to bike the mineral belt, check out the Two Guns Distillery, sleep in, & possibly visit a museum or 2.  We might also do a walking tour of Leadville.  So, slow relaxing day might be out of it.  Of course, a parade, fireworks, & BBQ for the 4th will push us over the edge. 

Looking forward to the 5th when we head back out to the trail.  Things continue to add up here at the hostel as they kind of nickel & dime us for things like towels for the shower & rides to the trail as well as meals.  The new world is all about how we can all make a buck on everything.  It seems weird but yet a natural pattern of life. 

My thoughts are with family and friends always.  You all help power me through these crazy breaks from the hectic world.  They are much needed and my husband deserves big kudos for supporting me.  You are the wind beneath my wings.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

From whence we came!

View from a saddle along the TenMile range of the Colorado/Continental Divide Trail. Only 6.5miles in to the 13mile day.

Gaining Altitude with Attitude!

Well, it has begun again. For all the anxiety I had getting started on this trail, it was like riding a bike...I simply fell in step again. My psyche is relaxing and I am beginning to appreciate my surroundings (even the mosquitoes). This trail is certainly different than the Appalachian Trail. I would say a little less social, but we seem to be in a little CT bubble right now. Also, we recently joined with the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and thus have that traffic to contend with as well. They are all heading north as we head south! So, much conversation and sharing of campsites along the way. At the same time, there is much more conversation when traveling with a companion versus on the AT when I was basically traveling alone. It has been fun getting to know more about my friend Liz and having each other to push and pull along the trail. As Mike mentioned, we have avoided forest fires at this time. There is a big one brewing in the south consuming beetle kill which they cannot seem to contain. Liz and I are keeping our eyes on that one as well as the weather which can ignite anything out here in the dry state of Colorado. That is part of the reason I am sitting in a hotel in Frisco right now. Tuesday evening, we were suppose to camp 4 miles away from the highway between Frisco and Breckenridge. The trail book stated there were good campsites right after the water source at 4miles to go. I'm sure there WERE good campsites; however, there were also tons of dead trees in the way. Either the beetle kill trees were blocking our access to the campsites or they were laying in some awesome looking campsite areas. Between that and the dead trees still standing causing us some concern, we decided to power through those last 4 miles (making it a 19mile day instead of a 15mile day) and head in to Frisco. There is a bus stop on the road we cross at the point of the Colorado Trail thus making it real easy to go in to either Frisco or Breckenridge. Liz already had a reservation at a hotel in Frisco for the days I go to Leadville for my marathon, so we called them and they were able to put us in the room she will have during that time. That made it real easy for us to then catch the free shuttle back to the trail yesterday (wednesday), slackpack over the ten mile range (13+miles), catch the free shuttle in Copper, and be back to Frisco for the evening. The trip so far has been amazing. We have narrowly escaped a forest fire that has shut down the first 2 segments of the trail. Yesterday, we learned of a new one that has probably shut down segment 5 of the trail. This one we could see from the top of Georgia pass which goes from hwy 285 to Hwy 9. As I mentioned, we are still watching the West Fork Complex fires to see whether we will end up having to skip a segment or 2. We are hoping not to have to skip, but when it comes down to safety, we want to stay safe. Liz and I have also talked about waiting it out and doing some relief help if needed in that area if it looks like we might only be delayed by a couple of days. The beetle kill is just so extensive that most of the state could burn up! A couple of CDT hikers I met the other day mentioned making it through the area before their section of the CDT was closed because of the fires. That is how Liz and I have been playing the fires... Just a day or a few hours ahead of them. On a more personal note, I am missing my husband like crazy. During the day, I mostly hike alone as I have longer legs than Liz and just tend to go my own pace. Those are the times I think about my husband and my family. I am really excited to see my nephews this weekend as they come up to cheer me on at my Marathon. My father will once again be spending time watching me do crazy things in Leadville. He has already sat through my attempts at the 100. At least this time it is only a marathon and won't take as long and won't be as disappointing, as I plan to finish! Liz and I have been overwhelmed by the people who have rallied to help us on this excursion. Our first food drop was done 4days in to the trail by her mother and neighbor. It was wonderful and we carried a small bottle of merlot with us for the next week never finding the best time to drink it. Then our second drop was done by our friend, Deb, who spoiled us rotten. SO MUCH food! She has a cabin near Kenosha Pass and thus picked us up and took us there. Her husband works fire rescue in that area as well and was able to pick us up when we got in a day early! It was wonderful considering I had broken a tent pole and would have ended up duct taping my tent together to make it work for the night! Deb also brought up a couple of tents for me to choose from. At the same time, I had called REI from the ridge to buy the newer model of the tent I broke. We had a friend coming up on Monday who brought the tent up. However, after setting up the one Deb had brought up (which she had planned to use on her own excursion along the CT before she hurt her knees), I decided to take her Big Agnes copper spur 1. It was great the one night I got to use it so far. I look forward to the miles ahead and the adventures. We have plenty of people meeting us and hiking for a bit as well as just bringing us food or wanting to cook something for us. My appetite has not increased yet to the point of being able to consume everything in sight but it is certainly picking up. I am amazed at how much I am able to eat even when I am not feeling well. I know I need to get the food in or I will not be able to make the hike, so down the shoot the food goes! It is great feeling the body and learning its needs again. So, this has turned in to quite the long post. We are over 100miles along the trail and much has happened. I appreciate all the support as we traverse this trail and look forward to keeping everyone abreast of our adventures. The next post will probably come from Leadville and will more than likely be shorter. One can only talk about the trail for so long! Thank you and blessed be!