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CDT Day 51 The Retreat from the snow


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7th June


East Trout River (775) to Trout river (786.2)

6am and we were hiking. This constant need to hit the snow before it softens is exhausting. But it must be done. The soft snow makes for slow going and can also be dangerous.

We follow the west trout river to its source and the junction with the CDT. It is almost 11am. Spontaneous wants to hike part of the infamous ‘knifes edge’. I traverse across a very steep 50 degree slope. On my first sight of it I could see no tell tale signs of other hikers going across.

Spontaneous set off. I told him not to fall. If he did there was no way I would be able to help him. There was no way I was going across it. There were signs of several avalanches. Some being very recent. He made it a short way then returned to show me the crazy video.

We climbed to the top of the next pass which was just over half a mile away but about 600 feet above us. We sat at the pass and looked at our maps. Reality set in. We would not make it to destination of Lake City. Nor would we make it to the closer Silverton. Yesterday we put in a huge physical effort and we were worn out. Spontaneous is meeting his girlfriend in only a couple of days, he obviously didn’t want to miss that date.

With heavy hearts we admitted a temporary defeat. With our tails between our legs we descended to Trout river. We plan our escape to the town of Creede. There is an alternate route called the Creede Cutoff. It goes through the town. This route has become popular because it avoids the high mountains and puts the hiker further north into Colorado quite quickly. I’m now torn what to do.

hiking again at sunrise
that wall of snow is the knife edge, the trail actually goes avross that. a fall would be rather painfull, of you survived
a bit of scrambling and rockclimbing
the top of the pass before we bailed
the moment when we waved goodbye to the trail, for now
for the first time in a long time we set up camp early

Next – Day 52 Getting to Town is not easy

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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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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11 thoughts on “CDT Day 51 The Retreat from the snow”

    • No comparison. Look up the YouTube videos or other blogs of people who hiked it. As of this date, nobody has made it across yet.

  1. You leaving the trail for a bit seems like a good thing to me. Day after day of blogs that tell of treacherous hiking and scary situations make me feel like I’m reading daily reports of a young cop! A sergeant needed to intervene before someone gets hurt haha

    • Like the good Constable and Sergeant, I’m constantly assessing and reassessing the situation. And making decisions to keep myself and others safe. Cheers Chris

  2. Sad to hear you had to get off the trail for now, but it seems to be a good decision! Creed is a beautiful little mountain town, and I love how it is built among the steep cliffs. We enjoyed our time there, other than getting our vehicle stuck in a canyon north of town (springtime snowmelt = mud). A very nice group of teenagers stopped to help us and had no trouble pulling us out of the mud. Would love to go back there someday.

  3. That’s whack, bro.

    Don’t underestimate the ‘cascade’ effect of physical exhaustion, impaired decisions and altitude. Combined, they can set up a situation worse than each separately. We had to help a Czech hiker off the trail @ Kearsarge who burned his reserves being the first JMT hiker through deep snow in Yosemite and was declining fast.

    I don’t know if you’re keeping track of your time/mileage, but here’s a comparison of my own experience on both section A and the spring JMT traverse. Your 15 hour day is a whole different level:

    2015 section A

    2016 spring JMT

      • Yes, u r very fortunate in that u have had many rugged experiences and know to listen to your body and know when to fold. Thanks for taking the time to post your tale.

      • Yes Margaret, I think all the experience that I’ve had in my life have been necessary for the last couple of days.

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