29th May

14.5 miles (23km)

11000 foot camp (673.6) to Frozen Lake Camp (688.1)

3am. My alarm sounds. What kind of craziness am I getting myself into. I had a plan. Wake early, make some miles while the snow is hard then take any bonus miles I can get when the snow becomes soft.

It was a surprisingly warm morning. Actually it was freezing cold but I guess I expected much worse. As expected the snow was easy to hike on and we made fast miles in the early hours. 

The morning glow started around 5am. And the views were world class. It wasn’t long before we started to climb up to 12000 lung busting feet. From that point the whole trail was snow. We made good miles up until about 10am. At that point the snow became soft and we opted to use our snow shoes. Neither of us have used them before and it wasn’t long before we got the hang of them.

As the day progressed the snow got softer and our progress slowed. I started to wonder if it was just better to start early, walk fast then set up camp at lunch time. The effort we expended was hardly worth the forward progress.

Throughout the course of the day we used all our extra snow gear. The ice axe and microspikes were used on a particularly nasty short ascent. The snowshoes were used most of the day. 

Camp was next to a frozen lake. All of the lakes we passed today were frozen. We found a very small patch of soil among the sea of snow. We did set up camp early. By the time we had eaten and got ready for bed it was 6.30pm. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this exhausted. 

hiking started at 4.30am

getting water from a frozen lake

the latest in snow hiking fashion

snowshoes for most of the day

then ice ace and microspikes for the climbs

storms building in the afternoon

6 Responses

  1. Tom

    So happy to hear you made it through safely. Disappointed that Crunchmaster will not be hiking with you, but respect his decision to tackle the San Juans in September and your decision to stay on a continuous path northbound. Pleased to see you taking some time to let conditions improve. Better to minimize your risks whenever it is possible. Will continue to follow you closely and looking forward to hosting you when you come do the AT. You will always be welcome here in TN and you have a place to stay and possibly a lift to where you need to go when you come this way.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      Thanks Tom. We may still hike with Crunchmaster, stay tuned. We all have a lot of decisions to make in coming days. I look forward to meeting up next year.

  2. Ian

    Amazed that you have room for all that gear, especially without the top lid. I have the same pack and it is pretty full, even with the top lid attached. Glad to see you are continuing on. Beat that snow!

    • BikeHikeSafari

      I think the Osprey Exos 48 is the perfect size for the CDT. I’m able to carry all my gear and 7 days food. I wouldn’t want to carry any more than that.

  3. Claire De Lune

    Would cross country skis help ? would be a lot faster that walking – surely you can get some old ones that you can toss or give away at the end.

    • BikeHikeSafari

      In some areas they would be great, but there is also a lot of navigation through tree covered areas. Must admit I don’t like the slowshoes, I think I will not be using them again

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