Cumbres Pass (668.1) to 11000ft camp (673.6)
Colorado was always going to be a challenge. It would probably be some of the hardest hiking that I will do thus far in my life. Things have been made more difficult by a high snow year, late season snow, unstable weather and unfavourable reports on the conditions from other hikers who have tried to hike into Colorado. Many have tried and turned around.
This morning Crunchmaster, Spontaneous and I spoke openly and honestly about this next section of the trail. It would be hard, we knew that. Personally, I wanted to try. A combination of good equipment, taking more food than necessary and a weather window that looked OK made me want to give it a go. Spontaneous had the same thoughts. We decided not take any risks and if we judged it either unsafe or beyond our abilities then we would turn around and make up a plan B. Just so you know, we have no plan B at this stage. But we wil make one up if we need to.
Crunchmaster had reservations about heading back on the trail. Neither I nor Spontaneous wanted to pressure him into a decision. He took his time and decided that he thought the conditions were unsafe. He was not confident to join us. I’m sure it was a hard one to make. Should we make it through it is unlikely we will see him again on the trail. If we try and fail and head back we will certainly see him again.
We bid farewell to Crunchmaster. He will not be joining us. Good luck buddy. You got this triple crown thing, no problems. We will miss his company. I will miss his company. And good navigation skills.
We got a lift to Cumbres pass from Roger, a fellow hiker, aka Greg from the book/movie Wild. A nice guy. We started hiking on the same day at the Mexican border. We realised that if Spontaneous and I get through this section we may not see him again. We may not see a lot of hikers again as many are choosing to skip to another section of trail or wait for two weeks for more snow to melt.
I never realised how much I value the knowledge that there are other hikers on the trail. Either just ahead or just behind. At this moment we don’t have that.
It was 3pm when we started hiking. The trail started at 10000 feet. Small patches of snow here and there. Many trees blown down in places. But it wasn’t too difficult. The higher we got the more snow we encountered. We postholed in many places and finally after 5 miles put on our snow shoes.
Both Spontanious and I have never used snowshoes. For that first half a mile we loved it. But we were now at 11000 feet. After several days at less than 8000 feet we were tired and easily breathless. We found a rare snow free patch and decided to make camp there. It was 6pm and we had only covered 5.5 miles. That was always the plan. Tomorrow we wake up and start hiking pre dawn. While the world is sleeping we will be hiking in the cold high altitude. Oh what fun. Good night.
I forget to mention yesterday. Good luck getting a hotel room in Chama in August. The newest instalment of Wolverine is being filmed there. Drop in and say G’day to my buddy Hugh Jackman.