Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Day 70: More blowdowns!

June 29: It rained on-and-off during the night, but it never gave me any trouble. I stayed warm and dry under my tarp, and got a decent 6:30am start on the trail.

I figured there was a good chance I'd see Skunkbear who I knew camped somewhere not far ahead, but I never saw her. I'm not sure if she left even earlier in the day than I did or if she camped so far off trail that I didn't see her, but the result was the same either way.

Blowdowns were my biggest problem in the morning, but this section at the edge of a meadow wasn't super bad. Aspen trees were a lot easier to climb over than the pine trees!

Within a mile or two, I hit another set of severe blowdowns. I knew it was coming. The Guthook comments had all sorts of comments about them, so it wasn't a surprise, but it was still disappointing. The section of trail with the blowdowns didn't just have a lot of blowdowns, but it was as if a logging company came through and clearcut the area leaving behind a massive jumbled pile of logs. Some sections, quite literally, had no trees left standing at all! Often piled as high as my chest.

The Guthook comments from earlier hikers suggested heading off trail to a meadow a bit to the east, then following the meadow to its end since the meadow would largely be clear of blowdowns. Can't blow down trees that were never there, after all! From the trail, I could see even see the meadow over the blowdowns, and I scrambled over to it. It was an excellent idea!

The meadow wasn't entirely clear of trees, however, since many aspens along its edge had fallen into the meadow. It was, however, significantly easier to get through than the staying on the main trail would have been.

At the end of the meadow, I dived back into the thick blowdowns and struggled to get through. At times, it felt a bit dangerous, climbing up onto a big log and jumping from one to the other. I was a little disappointed that I hadn't found Skunkbear and could go through with her in case I misjudged my footing or something. Or even to help look for a better route through this mess. Sometimes, four eyes were better two. Actually, for all I knew, she could be in this mess at this exact moment, but we had taken different routes through it. Oh, well.

There's a trail somewhere on the other side of these blowdowns....

I continued onward, going under and over trees. I couldn't go around them, though--that was never an option. There were always more blowdowns no matter how far I tried to swing around them.

Fortunately, the really bad area didn't last long, and I soon descended a steep slope that reached the trail. And, even better, the trail had been cleared of blowdowns already! A trail crew had been up here to work on the blowdowns. They had probably been out several times given the sheer volume of blowdowns that needed to be dealt with, but they hadn't finished clearing the entire length of the trail. They had, however, finished clearing it up to this point, so once I got back on the trail again, it was clear sailing!

Love trail workers! They make these hikes possible. *nodding*

Another mile or so down the trail, I heard voices. They were faint and sounded off trail. I stopped momentarily to hear them better and found a couple of people crossing a creek off to my right, complaining bitterly about the blowdowns and having lost the trail.

I called out to them. "The trail is over here!" I shouted.

"You're on the trail?" they asked.


They bushwhacked over to me, excited to be on real trail again. They too had taken the meadow through the blowdown but never managed to find the trail, bushwhacking a whole mile down to this point where I found and "rescued" them. They were a couple of locals who had gone out for a couple of days, but one of them had to be at school or work or something later that morning and was afraid that he wouldn't make it back home in time. Now that they were back on a real trail, they had a chance!

I just love these flowers! So pretty....

We soon reached the trailhead, and they asked if I needed a ride into town. It was possible to hitch into Buena Vista, and some hikers certainly did do that. (Evenstar, I would later find out, did precisely this.) I had carried enough food to get me to Leadville, however, and wasn't looking for a ride into town. A bit of a shame, though, to not take a ride offered to me right there at the trailhead.

Once I passed the highway, the trail headed steeply downhill toward Texas Lakes, where it started sprinkling ever-so-lightly. When I went to pull out my umbrella, I was shocked and horrified to discover that it was missing! It must have fallen out of my pack while scrambling through all those blowdowns in the morning. Noooo! I can't live on the trail without an umbrella! That's practically one of the 10 essentials!

I definitely wasn't going to go back to look for it. Even if I did, the chances of finding it among all those blowdowns would have been almost zero. I couldn't have retraced my route through that mess to save my life. The umbrella was gone forever. *sigh*

With a heavy heart, I pushed onward. But I did text Evenstar, who was behind me, to look for my umbrella among the blowdowns if she went that way. =) (She never found it, though.)

One of a string of lakes known as the Texas Lakes.

At the Texas Creek trailhead, I was at the end of the Mirror Lake Alternate and back on the main red-line CDT. I wondered if Reality Check, Cramps, and Outlaw had already passed by this point or if I somehow got ahead of them. The distance between the alternate and red-line CDT were about the same, so it's not like I took a shortcut. But at the same time, if they had severe weather on the mountain ridge or slept in later than I did, it could have slowed them down. I figured they were probably ahead of me since they all hiked faster than I did and likely didn't stop to camp as early as I did last night, but I couldn't know for certain.

Without a doubt, however, they were nearby. Maybe ahead of me, maybe behind me, but there was no way to be sure. Just like Skunkbear. It was a little weird knowing that there were all sorts of hikers nearby but not knowing if they were ahead or behind me!

From the Texas Creek trailhead, the trail climbed steeply uphill to a pass before another long downhill. Nobody ever accused Colorado of being flat!

At the top of the pass, I noticed a solitary hiker behind me on the trail. I couldn't identify who it was, however. Just a speck on the trail in the distance. It might not have even been one of the hikers who I knew was somewhere nearby on the trail, but it could have been someone else entirely. Nope, I'd just have to find out who it was when they got closer. 

Looking back toward Texas Lakes

Along the way, a total of 8 motorbikes passed me, tearing up the trail. Literally tearing up the trail. I could see the dirt flying off their tires like shovels, and the loud noise was a huge annoyance. I think it was probably legal for them to be there, but I still didn't like it. It definitely detracted from the otherwise wilderness experience. 

Late in the day, I set up camp near a creek. Nice and quiet. No real rain had materialized during the day--and thank goodness for that since I no longer had an umbrella!--but it was forecasted for the night so I set up my tarp.

The mysterious hiker behind me never caught up, so I never found out who that was. Perhaps it wasn't even a CDT hiker and they had turned off onto another trail before reaching me? No idea! And perhaps I'll never find out....

It's always a great feeling to reach the top of a pass. The exhausting uphill is done! Time for a little downhill now! =)

1 comment:

GG said...

Cinderblocks - I hope whoever installed them had an easy way to get them there.