Day 65: Hellacious Blow Downs!

Miles Hiked: 16.5

Total Milage: 1038.8

Location: Rogers Pass

This morning I woke up around 5am. I started the day by making some hot tea and doing my stretches. I love when I have some extra time to do this in the morning! I ended up hiking out of camp before hummingbird and 12 Pack around 6:30 am. I checked Guthook before I left and saw that I didn’t have to worry about any trail junctions for a while. I confidently hiked down the only trail I saw leaving the trail head. After about 20 minutes I checked Guthook again and I was way off the trail! I must have missed a turn that wasn’t marked. I turned around and started hiking back to camp. I was frustrated that I got out early all to end up going the wrong way and hiking some extra miles. On the way back, I ended up seeing two moose! I was so excited and thought the extra two miles of hiking were worth it to see the moose! When I got within 0.1 of a mile from the trailhead, I noticed a junction with a CDT sign that I totally walked by because I wasn’t paying attention. I started going down the correct trail, trying to catch up with my friends who I assume left camp in the 40 minutes I spent doing some bonus milage.

While I was trying to catch up to my friends, I was listening to backpacker radio. The trail was very nice and flat to start out the day. I passed through some dense forest with some meadows intermittently. I saw some moose poop and foot prints and wondered if I would see more. At Cabin Creek I filled up all of my water bottles because I knew that I wouldn’t see any garanteed water for a long time. I passed a sign warning about some very dangerous blown down trees ahead. I was not looking forward to this section. I started climbing over a bunch of trees until I was completely surrounded by blown down trees. I saw a flash of blue ahead of me and realized it was 12 Pack! It was strange that I didn’t run into hummingbird first. I thought it was kinda crazy I hiked an extra two miles and she was still behind us. When I caught up to 12 Pack in the middle of all the blown down trees he was surprised to see me. He thought I was way ahead and I explained my detour to him. We tackled the section of crazy blow downs together. It was super dangerous! I had to walk across lots of giant trunks with sharp branches poking out every which way. Some of them were pretty high up off the ground. 12 Pack and I were moving so slow and we were both incredibly frustrated and exhausted. Eventually we saw a path of grass close to the side of the ravine we were in. We made our way over to it very slowly. It was so nice to finally get out of those trees! We took a lunch break and I took out my sleeping bag and tent to dry them out in the sun. Everything was covered in dew this morning.

After our break, 12 pack and I continued up the side of the Ravine away from all the crazy trees. We ran into the trail again a lot faster than we were expecting. It turns out we pretty much went through all the trees we possibly could! It took us 1.5 hours to hike 1 mile through that section. We started to ascend to a saddle. We had to go through a good amount of snow before reaching some grass. We saw Hummingbird up in front of us! I was so happy to see that she made it through all the blown down trees. I was concerned when we took a long lunch break and still didn’t see her. When we caught up to her at the top of the saddle, we all took a break together out of the wind because she still hadn’t stopped to take a break today.

After the break, we all hiked across a grassy ridge with some patches of snow. I could see Winter Park Ski Resort in the distance. 12 Pack and I ended up way ahead of Hummingbird again. When we got to a trail head, Instead of taking the trail, we walked along a dirt road. We needed more water which was on the road and it was supposed to give us a little break after such an exhausting and frustrating morning. Three miles later, we reached the next trailhead where we could take another trail to connect back to the CDT. We took a break to wait for hummingbird. After over an hour she still didn’t show up. We thought she would probably walk the road as well to get some water, but were not 100% sure. A single car drove by and we stopped to ask them if they saw anyone walking on the road. They told us they hadn’t so we could only assume she hiked the actual trail. While we were sitting we did see a person on the ridge in the distance but we couldn’t tell if it was a day hiker or not. We did see a couple of other people hiking today so it could have been.

12 Pack and I started hiking up a snowy trail. We were post holing ocasionally and it would slow us down. When we got out of treeline, we could see the ridge again so we decided to cross country hike back to the CDT. While we were ascending back to the grassy ridge, we saw Hummingbird hiking above us! We all met up about a mile later near the base of James Peak, a 13er. It was 6pm and all of us were so exhausted. We knew that if we climbed 2.5 miles up to the intimidating looking peak, we would absolutely have to hike down the other side. We knew it would take us a while to get to the top and we didn’t really want to hike down our first 13er by headlamp. Although we were almost at 12k feet, there was a divet in the mountain protecting us from the wind and some snow to melt for water. We decided to set up camp early for the second day in a row. The plan is to get an early start up James tomorrow.

Our campsite was incredible. We had a view of so many mountains in front of us and I absolutely loved it. This will probably make the top ten list of cool places I have camped. I just hope we don’t have any wind or weather issues overnight! I made biscuits and gravy that my friend Monica sent me for dinner and I called my friend Pop Rocks. Sunset was incredible!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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