Archives for August 2016

Continental Divide Trail #33: Og, Intrepid, & She Who Must Be Obeyed!

You may know from CDT post #22 that Og was given his trail-name by Beacon, Problem Bear and Maverick as they approached the CDT’s Canadian border last summer. Porter became known as “the other guy” by thru-hikers who knew the other three from previous hikes. They shortened it to OG, and it morphed into Og to signify my heroic cave man!  On our thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, our trail-name was “Porter-and-Gail” because we were always together. But now that Og is Og, what should be my trail-name? 


“I’m intrepid,” I reassured Og as I drove him up ridiculously steep boulder-strewn dirt roads to various trailheads. “Intrepid!” he said. “That’s got to be your trail-name.” Works for me, especially since I’m emotionally intrepid as well, watching him hike into the wilderness without knowing whether I’ll ever see him again.


Intrepid also for hiking solo on CDT trails, here high above the clouds at 12,000 feet.


Intrepid for driving into the wild blue yonder on deserted roads to find him at a trailhead many days later.


And not giving up until I do! 


“Everyone’s got a trail-name but me!” Amber said. “Henceforth, mine shall be ‘She Who Must Be Obeyed!'”


 

Continental Divide Trail #32: Too Light in the Collegiate Peaks!

Although Og climbed the eastern side of Colorado’s Collegiate Peaks earlier this summer when the western side was impassable with snow, he was determined to go back to hike the western Collegiates, the official CDT. These spectacular peaks are some of the highest on the CDT, with elevations above 12,000 feet. From Marshall, Monarch, and Cottonwood Passes, I hiked up behind him for a few miles on steep rocky trails.  


Most of the snow had melted on the alpine tundra, but it was critical he get over exposed ridges before the afternoon storms, with lightning, hail, and torrential rains.


Even so, he got soaked and chilled during a storm that raged all night. For a ground cloth under his eight-ounce tarp, he uses only the handmade chaps that cover his legs while hiking in cold rain. 


“There’s such a thing as going too light!” he said when I picked him up for resupply. I gasped. I never thought I’d hear him, ultralight gearhead that he is, utter those words. He agonized over whether to buy a real tent rather than die of hypothermia in the upcoming Weminuche Wilderness. His tarp drying over a lamp, he set up our new Hilleberg Anjan 2 in our hotel room in Durango. 


Amber had her own tough decision to make. “Malbec or champagne?” she fretted. “know–both!” So a good time is being had by all. 


 

Continental Divide Trail #31: Made it to Wyoming!

I knew something was wrong when Og struggled down the trail toward me, instead of bounding as he usually did with trekking poles outstretched in greeting. “I’m really sick,” he said. “I can’t eat, and if I can’t eat, I can’t hike.” He looked as bedraggled as these trees. 


But with the indomitable spirit of the bald eagle in his photo above, Og made it over the CDT’s Colorado border into Wyoming. We succeeded in our goal of hiking from northern New Mexico to southern Wyoming, the section impassable because of snow last midsummer!  


I drove nine hours straight from Steamboat Springs, CO to pick up Og at the top of Battle Pass, WY, then across Wyoming and home to Boulder where he took a week off to recover from a viral gastroenteritus and exhaustion. 


But we’re not done yet! Since Og hiked the eastern side of the Collegiate Peaks when the western side was impassable with snow in late June, we’re now back to hike the higher, tougher, western side–the official CDT. Here we are, starting up at Monarch Pass.


Not to be outdone, Amber helped Nathan (the mascot of Tom and Sheila, see our previous post) earn his Boy Scout merit badge in kissing.


 

Continental Divide Trail #30: Fire, Storms, & Old Friends

Og (aka Porter) messaged me late one night from his campsite in the Rabbit Ears Range to say he saw and smelled smoke, and was there a fire near him? I sprang into action from my hotel room and learned a lot about how to research fire activity, especially through an invaluable site called Inciweb. The Beaver Creek Fire was raging north of the Continental Divide Trail near the Colorado/Wyoming border, 35,000 acres, 12% contained, expected to burn into October.


Fortunately, air and ground fire crews were maintaining the perimeters, while letting the vast interior of beetle-killed trees burn. Also, it’s monsoon season in the Colorado mountains, and the heavy rains help. Og works hard to find a campsite each evening with slopes on all sides to channel the pelting runoff from late-night storms.


He’s making great mileage over spectacular mountains, here in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness.


Remember Tom and Sheila, our hiking friends in I Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail?  Sheila is trail-angeling Tom as he hikes south on the Continental Divide Trail this summer, just as I’m trail-angeling Porter as he hikes north, and we met while picking up our respective husbands at the Seedhouse trailhead! We hadn’t seen them in years. Here we are celebrating over dinner in Steamboat Springs.


The big excitement in Amber’s life is getting to stay at the Rabbit Ears Motel, because the sign is pink like her and has a bunny on top!