Continental Divide Trail #34: Epic Finish!

You may recall from CDT posts #3 and #4 that our son, Philip, hiked with Og for his first week of the Continental Divide Trail in April 2015 from Crazy Cook on the border of Mexico. They trudged north across the New Mexico desert in searing heat with little water and undefined trail, but had a blast, of course. As Chief Resident in Ophthalmology at USC in Los Angeles, Philip couldn’t get time off to finish with Og last August as he made it to Canada. So it’s even more meaningful that Philip was able to complete Og’s final week with him this September 2016, in the formidable Weminuche Wilderness, previously impassable with deep snow. 


The mountains of the Weminuche Wilderness are the most remote on the whole CDT, and, between 11,000 and 13,000 feet, among the highest. 


The weather window to hike the Weminuche is narrow. Last winter’s snow had finally melted, but Og and Philip had snow their first night out, then storms with heavy rain, hail, and sleet for part of most days/nights after.


They hiked more than twenty miles a day. Given the steep climbs and descents on difficult terrain, Philip, who sailed through five Ironman triathlons, said “The Weminuche is the toughest physical challenge I’ve ever faced!” 


Route-finding was especially difficult, and they got lost at least once a day. 


The views from the alpine tundra were spectacular, though!


The sunsets allowed for deep reflection. 


Almost out of food on their fifth day, they raced to their final destination at Elk Park, where the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train picks up the occasional backpacker who flags it down in the wilderness. 


Here we are, Og, Intrepid, She Who Must Be Obeyed (see CDT post #33 for the story of our trail-names), and Philip, in Durango celebrating the end of a 3,100-mile journey on the Continental Divide Trail. 

Thank you deeply for all your support, cheering us on every step of the way. We keep you in our hearts as Og, Intrepid, and She Who Must Be Obeyed head for a week-long silent meditation retreat on our way home, to absorb the profound transformation of our wilderness experience.


 

Continental Divide Trail #24: So Much Snow!

Og (Porter) set out from Cumbres Pass toward Wolf Creek Pass, through the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado, ice ax strapped to the back of his pack. He used his ice ax a lot until it was claimed by the CDT, probably while Og was pushing through a thick stand of thorny brush.


Even in mid-June, he found much more snow than expected. Steep climbs and post-holing (sinking step by step into deep snow) at elevations between 10,000 and 13,000 feet slowed him way down. 


The views were spectacular, though, and water plentiful even if frozen over by the cold nights. 


Meanwhile, Gail and Amber meditated.


Og met celebrities Buddy Backpacker, at eight years old the youngest Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail thru-hiker, now hiking the CDT, and his parents Andrea and Dion. Amber and I were happy to trail-angel by driving all four hikers from Wolf Creek Pass into town for resupply.


Here’s a short video of the triumph of their accomplishment.


 

Continental Divide Trail #6: Hot Springs and 200 River Crossings

Porter entering the Gila wilderness

 

Porter entered the Gila Wilderness with considerable trepidation–ten days of solo navigating of flood-damaged canyons. He had to cross the Gila River more than 200 times, often in fast current.

Gila River

 

 

 

 

Amber & Gail in hotsprings

 

Meanwhile, Amber contemplated joining Gail in the Riverbend Hot Springs in Truth or Consequences, NM.

Amber meditates by Rio Grande

 

 

 

 

She opted to meditate in a flower pot overlooking the Rio Grande instead.

HAPPY EARTH DAY, EVERYBODY!

Continental Divide Trail #4: From Mexican Border to Lordsburg, NM

Porter & Philip emerge Animas Rd.

Porter and Philip emerged victorious from the first 80+ mile section of the CDT from the border of Mexico to Lordsburg, NM. “The Continental Divide Trail is a figment of someone’s imagination,” they said, “no trail whatsoever, just bushwhacking in and out of rocky ravines, dodging cactus, searching for the rare CDT sign–often blown over or attached to a barbed wire fence we had to scramble through.” Their scariest encounter was with a border patrol agent with flak jacket, automatic weapons, and ammo clips galore, who demanded “Don’t you have anything to defend yourselves with?” They gestured with their trekking poles. The danger is past now, further from the border. They hiked 24 miles one day to get to the water we’d dropped off, and had a great time. Philip became a master chef with the 4-oz frying pan, turning out cheese biscuits, cornbread, and hash browns.

Gail meditates at Quality Inn

 

 

Meanwhile, back at the Quality Inn in Deming, NM, I meditated.

 

Drs. Philip, Porter, Amber

 

 

 

Dr. Philip Storey, Ophthalmology Resident, operated on the blisters of Dr. Porter Storey, EVP Emeritus of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, after Dr. Amber Storey, Surgeon Doll General of the United States, declared the latter’s feet a Federal Disaster Area.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

Continental Divide Trail #3: The Adventure Begins!

Philip, Gail, & Porter, Hachita, NM

On Saturday, March 28, I dropped off Porter and Philip in Hachita, NM, for their two-hour ride (thanks, Jeff Sharp!) over bumpy dirt roads to start their CDT hike at Crazy Cook Monument near the Mexican border. (Philip will hike the first five days with Porter.)

Porter walks into desert near Lordsburg to drop off 5 gals. water for cache

 

The day before, Porter and I drove ten hours to three remote CDT road crossings, where Porter walked into the desert to leave five gallons of water at each for his and Philip’s water resupply over the first 87 miles. (Note to CDT Northbounders, the water caches had plenty of water, about 20-30 gals. each.) While I waited for Porter, the Border Patrol stopped to ask what I was doing there, so the agent and I had a nice chat.

 Amber with Piero, the Quality Inn towel animal

 

Ensconced at the Quality Inn in Deming, NM, I’ve begun my solo meditation retreat. As for Amber, here she is sharing a chocolate chip cookie with Piero, our Quality Inn towel animal, no doubt plotting mayhem.