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. 


28 comments on “Continental Divide Trail #32: Too Light in the Collegiate Peaks!

  1. Another delightful posting. Thank you, Gail. Good luck on the trail, Porter, and best wishes to you, Gail and Amber.

  2. Og lives on the edge. Makes me nervous and I’m not his trail angel. Be smart out there!!!! And more Malbec.

  3. Darwin was right…. only those willing to learn and change will survive. Og will not “win” the Darwin award this time.

  4. So glad he got a tent! I would have pegged Amber as a champagne girl. But Malbec is a nice, robust red and Amber is quite a woman. I’ve never tried both at the same sitting, myself, but it’s a thought . . .

    • Melanie, you are hilarious! Amber is totally a champagne girl like moi, but imbibing Og’s Malbec was her way of registering support for his venture into the Weminuche Wilderness. She and I adore your own blog posts about dating–she’s debating what to do about her new love, Nathan.

  5. We’re just completing 8 days of camping & 4 motelB&B stays, and that is a challenge. I can’t begin to imagine how tough Porter has it.

    • Congratulations, Marian! Will look forward to hearing about your own camping adventures! You’re right that camping each night in a different place and hiking all day is a challenge, especially at these elevations where it’s often hard to find a flat (enough) spot, with okay drainage, at least a bit out of the wind.

  6. Such determination. Such perseverance. I have never known anyone like the three of you. Amber, please take care of your parents. They thrive on adventure, which is admirable, but Mother Nature can be moody. They must be prepared for her temper tantrums! ?

    • Sallie Ann, we’ve never known anyone like you and Bob, with your extraordinarily generous adventures helping those in the developing world! It’s snowing in the Weminuche Wilderness right now, so it’s great that Porter is prepared! Much love always!

  7. Onward, Og! I am so relieved to hear you are recognizing the need for more weather protection and adapting to the reality–survival is the thing so you can have bragging rights when you are back in comfie Boulder drinking Malbec with your buddies. We are all looking forward to your successful and triumphant return!!! Hugs to you both– xo Rosita

    • Rosita, so true, better to survive than to die ultralight. Another hiker out here has been missing for several days. We continue to think of you every day with much love.

    • It’s truly gorgeous out here, Deborah. It’s good he took the tent because it’s snowing now in the Weminuche Wilderness. He agonized over it, though, because a lot of considerations go into carrying a 3.5-lb tent vs. an 8 oz.-tarp up and down steep mountains for twenty miles a day. His pack is also small and ultralight and the tent barely fit along with his other gear, bringing his pack weight up to 16 lbs. The heavier your pack, the slower you go; the slower you go, the longer it takes to get there; the longer it takes to get there, the more food you have to carry, and this stretch is already at least five days long. He shaved off a few ounces by taking his ultralight tent stakes instead of the stakes that came with the new tent.

  8. Many considerations, to be sure. A stretch at least five days long with wind and snow? Just looking at those tarp and tent photos makes a compelling argument for the latter.

    • So true, Kellye! We think of you and Fritz so often and hope you’re having your own adventures this summer. Yours are generally more cosmopolitan than ours! Much love to you both.

  9. What an adventure. Wish I had the &^%** to take it on. Huge accolades and prayers guiding you through this adventure.

  10. Dear Gail,

    The Jewish mother in me wonders if Porter is eating enough on the trail? I mean, champagne might be festive and all, but how’s about some hot chicken noodle soup!

    Love to you both,

    • You’re a dear to hope Porter is eating enough on the trail–I assure you he is! It’s a pretty balanced diet, much like the one described in I Promise Not to Suffer, with dinner soups to which he adds protein, vegetables, and a carbohydrate. His weight is what it was when he started, although probably a lot more solid muscle. Hope all is fantastic with you and your writing!

  11. Hi Gail and Porter! So glad to receive another post! I can imagine that Og has recognized the value of a warm tent on those cold exposed peaks. How difficult this trail is for both of you! I see those afternoon storms building on the horizon, and I can just visualize you two up there tackling the terrain with the taunting, ominous clouds lingering on the horizon. We’ve had our share of down bursts recently. Not really enough rain to solve the pending drought, but every little bit is a welcome drink for the land. K love the look of the new tent! I hope it helps to protect and preserve your sweetheart Gail. Well wishes are heading your way! Love, Andrea

    • Thank you for all the well wishes, Andrea–they’re working! Yes, Og feels apprehensive when he sees those clouds building up, so it’s great he has the new tent. Glad you’re having a bit of rain to water the land. Hugs to all of you in swim group!

  12. E-yi, Gail! Tell Porter: Better a wee tent than an iceberg Og. And that sweet Anjan looks like it could lure in both you and Amber, and still hold a case of wine.

    You two (three) and your courageous-outrageous accomplishments are SUMPTIN!

    Safe journeys . . .

    • Kathleen, so glad you approve, you would know! YES, Amber and I are planning to join Og in the Anjan in the near future! I think of you so often with much love! Hope all is fantastic with you, Patrick, and your own amazing adventures!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.