CDT Day 45 Escape from the mountains 

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1st June

23.7 miles

Lake Annella (713.6) to Highway 160 (737.3)

We packed our camp and started hiking up the road. We spotted another hiker. It was Stop and Go. Earlier in the week he tried to hike the mountains but turned around due to the unsafe conditions. Several days earlier he planned a road walk to avoid the mountains and continue his match north. We hiked with him for several miles before we parted ways at Elwood Pass. We were now back on the trail.

For the next several hours the trail was safe but sometimes slow work. Snowshoes on, snowshoes off. By midday we found ourselves surrounded by dark clouds. Rain, snow and thunder started to catch up with us. The snow started, then the thunder and lightning. We looked for a route off the high ridges. A quarter mile off the trail was a forestry road that led to the highway. With little though or discussion we started down off the ridge into the road. We glissaded part of the way and made great time to the highway. It was only a 15 minute wait for a hitchhiking ride to the town of Pagosa Springs.

So ended some of the most difficult hiking I have ever done. The future, what comes next, I just don’t know. Do I take a week or two off trail? Do I just take a couple of days off and get back on trail? Whatever I decide I need a couple of days rest and learn from this experience. If I do go back up to the mountains sooner rather than later I need to better understand the snow conditions. But now, it’s time for Subway.

having a rest break with stop and go
snowshoes on, snowshoes off
trying to outrun the storm
sheltering from snow and lightning
decision made, lets get off the high ridge, i probably shouldnt be raising my poles in lightning storm
glissading or sliding down the slopes
about to hitchhike to Pagosa Springs
Subway craving satisfied

Next – Day 46 Pagosa Springs

Everything you need to know about hiking the CDT:
Complete Guide to Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
CDT Resupply Guide
CDT Gear List

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  1. Has bern great reading your snow posts. I’m glad it all worked out well, albeit scary at times! Hope the rest of the way is easier!

  2. Hey Brad
    Soooo glad you are safe. When you first headed into the mountains and snow, I was relieved when you posted. Anyway, well done. Sounds like an enormous achievement. Hope the future trek goes well.

  3. Brad, we were taking in a stiff drink while reading aloud your latest ice climb, that was the only way! So glad to see your honesty with being just a guy who loves the outdoors and sometimes that gets you into spots that tests your limits, you’re not a super hero just a normal guy with big drive for life and what is out there to see and experiance.
    Stay safe as I know you will.
    Your Bryce Canyon buddies, Ron and Laura

    1. Thanks for the nice words Ron and Laura. Some people think I’m some special guy or superhuman athlete. Really I’m just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary dream. I think you know that from the person you met back in Bryce Canyon in 2014. Hope you are both well.

  4. always impressed with your navigation skills. I need to focus on that and start building my skill set.

    1. I do use phone based navigation aids such as Guthook app, Ley Maps on the PDF Maps app and Pocketearth Pro app, all three of them keep me on track. Or if I need an escape route I can find and navigate one. So far so good.

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