Continental Divide Trail #29: Gail Meets a Moose; Og Meets Elk

I was out hiking by myself when I happened upon this magnificent bull moose, about seven feet tall, blocking the trail! I backed up respectfully and got behind a tree, as one is supposed to do. Moose can charge at any time, so I waited quietly for quite a while until it plunged into the nearby creek and crossed to the other side.


Meanwhile, Og (aka Porter) came upon an enormous herd of elk above 12,000 feet on Flat Top Mountain, on a steep optional loop of the Continental Divide Trail through Rocky Mountain National Park.  


Here we are at Berthoud Pass. 


Here’s Og taking a break after summiting 13,300-foot James Peak, in the background.


Amber has taken over doing the laundry while Og and I are off hiking together or separately. “My new hobby is cleaning lint that hasn’t been removed from motel dryers since before I was born!” she says.  Our motel in Grand Lake doesn’t have a dryer, though, so she sits on Og’s washed shirt, socks, and pants to keep them from blowing away in the wind.


 

Continental Divide Trail #28: Yogi, Rockstar Thru-Hiker!

So I’m descending 12,000-foot Mount Flora, solo after leaving Og (aka Porter) to continue north on the Continental Divide Trail.

“Gail?!” a woman calls out behind me. Who the heck could I possibly know out here? And I’m like, “Uh, ya, and you are?”

“Yogi,” she says. “I met your husband up the trail and he said to watch for you.”

“THE Yogi?” As in author of Yogi’s Pacific Crest Trail Handbook, Yogi’s Continental Divide Trail Handbook, and Yogi’s Colorado Trail Handbook, the definitive guides to the trails and trail-town resupply stops that pretty much every thru- and section-hiker, not to mention trail-angel, can’t do without?

She smiled modestly. This of Yogi and me is one of the pivotal photo-ops of my entire hiking life. 


Yogi is completing her second Triple Crown–thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail.

“Do you need a ride from the trailhead anywhere?” I asked.

“Winter Park,” she said. “But that’s the opposite way from where you’re going.”

“I am totally taking you to Winter Park,” I said. 

She lifted her pack into Angel2, my Trail-Angelmobile.

“What’s your base weight?” I asked. As ultralighters with pack base weights of 12 and 11 pounds for Og and me, respectively, on the Pacific Crest Trail, and 8 pounds for Og on the Continental Divide Trail, I was bursting with curiosity.

“I don’t know, I don’t weigh my pack,” she said.

Say whaaaat? On our drive to Winter Park, we talked about what she carried–a real, enclosed tent, in contrast to our 7 oz. tarp, a significant sleeping pad, all kinds of gear that I could never manage. But look at her legs! She’s solid babelicious muscle.


Over lunch in town, we talked about navigation (she relies on map and compass, in contrast to so many, including Og and me, who now use Guthooks and similar apps), nutrition, and other things that would make you ask “and you’re telling me this because?”

Dedicated to the well being of a national community of hikers, Yogi assiduously gathers, updates, and publishes the essential info about the trails and resupply towns. I feel I speak for the larger thru-hiking community when I say I simply cannot imagine how we’d prepare for and succeed on our PCT, CDT, and CT hikes without Yogi’s generous sharing of her extraordinary gifts, knowledge, and hard work. Thank you, Yogi, with a deep bow of gratitude, and an outpouring of appreciate Love!

For Yogi’s absolutely invaluable guidebooks and other products: http://www.yogisbooks.com/.

Continental Divide Trail #27: Knife-Edge Ridges, Wind, & Goats!

This section of the Continental Divide Trail, from Copper Mountain to Grays Peak, parted ways with the Colorado Trail to head north. Og (aka Porter) hiked knife-edge ridges with steep drop-offs on both sides.


He saw few other hikers but lots of wildlife, from marmots, ptarmigans, and ravens to mountain goats! 


He melted snow to drink, since water was scarce, at least until the storms moved in. 


Finding a flat enough spot to camp was a challenge. Here the wind was so fierce he had to use heavy rocks to hold down his staked tarp. 


I faced my own challenge–driving miles up a steep, deeply rutted jeep road to pick up Og at the Grays Peak trailhead. But it was my birthday, and I was determined to bring him back to celebrate with Amber and me over dinner at an excellent Frisco restaurant! 


Thank you for all your birthday wishes via email and Facebook! They warmed my heart, and reminded Og and me how grateful we are for your friendship.

Continental Divide Trail #26: High Ridges and Wildflowers

Og (aka Porter) has been hiking in the Mount Massive Wilderness of the Sawatch Range, the Holy Cross Wilderness, the Gore Range and the Ten Mile Range high over Copper Mountain and Breckenridge. I’ve been climbing a few miles with him, then down again solo. In these sections, the Continental Divide Trail has overlapped with the Colorado Trail.


The wildflowers are out in full force!


The ridges he’s walked are above 12,000 feet.


The views this high are spectacular.


Amber would rather read about hiking than do it, however. Sitting in a chair carved from a tree trunk is plenty outdoorsy for her.


 

Continental Divide Trail #25: Beauty & a Map Mishap

Dion Pagonis, who with Andrea Rego and Buddy Backpacker hiked to Wolf Creek Pass with Og, commented on my previous blog post: “From my point of view, we were holding onto our dear lives through the most physically demanding rigorous escape off alpine hell. Thank goodness you know how to spin a story! Now all we did was just walk across a lot of snow.”  LOL! So now I know that Og (aka Porter) downplays danger so as not to terrify me! Anyway, here’s Og continuing north from Spring Creek Pass.


The trail is gorgeous, though, even in rain.


I hike in with Og at each trailhead then hike out solo to drive to the next trail town. At the next trailhead several days later I hike in to meet him, then we drive to town for his resupply.3a


Og starts hiking most mornings by 6 a.m.


Amber was dismayed to see that Og burnt a hole in his next day’s map while cooking dinner on his alcohol stove.


Og’s 8 oz. tarp protected him from high winds on an exposed ridge in the south San Juan Mountains.  


Hope you all had a happy Fourth of July!