Day 93 on the Continental Divide Trail

Day- 93

Date- 9/22/17

Location- side of trail

Elevation- 10,430 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 22.3 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 1,384.7 miles

Weather/Temp- cloudy, rain, hail 40-50-60s

Injuries- none

Pain level- cold

Spirits/Morale- cold

Wildlife encounters- none

Days without shower- 3

Days without laundry- 3

Hunger/craving- none

After a cozy night of cowboy camping beneath a pine tree, I was up and hiking before 7:30 am. It was windy and cold, but after several miles the trail became an actual trail again. 

From the high elevations of more than 10k feet, I could see all the micro storms brewing over the distant mountains. All day long we continued to thread the needle between storm systems and make good time. 

The majority of the day was spent along exposed/mildly exposed ridges offering gorgeous views of the encompassing mountains and valleys. Swaths of green conifers broken up by the contrasting blotches of autumn colored Aspen groves. It wasn’t hard to feel fortunate to be here…

On the ridges we had wind and in the forests we had blowdowns. Nothing crazy, but more than enough to break your stride. Stomper fell behind about halfway through the day after lunch. After two more breaks, he still hadn’t caught up. At 4:30pm the needle finally threaded us in the form of a fast and furious hail storm. After 15 minutes of laying low, we were on our way again, still Stomper-less. 

It was 6 pm when we stopped at the base of Parkview Mountain, a 12,400 ft exposed behemoth that required more than 2,200 ft of steep ascent. Here we were faced with a conundrum, not to mention another hail storm. It was cold, stormy, windy, and getting late. We had three options… We could attempt to go over the mountain, come hell or high water. We could take an alternate side trail and bypass the climb and exposed ridges. Or… we could camp right here, right now, and attempt the climb tomorrow morning, weather permitting. The bad stuff wasn’t supposed to roll in until late morning/early afternoon. 

In the end we didn’t want to miss the climb, but we also didn’t want to continue any further without Stomper. So we faded into the trees and hunkered down in our shelters as yet another hail filled lightning storm passed overhead. The sun set and the world grew dark, but Stomper was nowhere to be found. We figured he stopped early during one of the other storms. 

I’ve got my tarp set up a little differently tonight. It was a bit of a squeeze in these trees, so the ends are fairly open. So long as the wind doesn’t shift, I should be protected from any storm spray…

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