CDT, Day 2 — Avalanche Zone

CDT, Day 2 — July 2

I started hiking at 6:30 a.m. under blue skies after a restful night’s sleep. I gained an alpine ridge in a quarter mile on a more or less visible trail and continued east on the ridge for 1.5 miles. From the ridge, the trail descended steeply toward Bobtail Creek, which runs easterly through the valley below.

The trail became better defined as I descended. I waded the creek and continued downhill less steeply through sub-alpine forest and grassy meadows, encountering only a few deadfalls. In a mile, I re-crossed the creek and walked past the remains of a huge 2018 avalanche, where piles of spruce and fir trees rose 10 feet above the ground. Happily, the Forest Service crews have cleared a path through the mess.

About 5 miles into the day, I crossed Bobtail Creek for the last time at the site of the defunct Bobtail mine. As I ate lunch, a fellow who works for Denver Water came by on his ATV and chatted. It turns out that Denver Water diverts large quantities of water through aqueducts and tunnels from the Western Slope in Colorado to the Front Range, where most of the state’s residents live. This kind fellow gave me several energy bars. How great is that?

Well-fed, I headed up a well-graded gavel road with nine switchbacks, gaining 2,000 feet to Jones Pass. Easy footing but hard hiking. I am not yet in trail shape. At the top, I rejoined the official Continental Divide Trail. Turning east on an alpine ridge,  I soon met two day hikers who started at the Henderson mine in the valley below. I continued east, mostly downhill and occasionally crossing snowfields. On one steep patch of snow, with a long runout ending in a pile of boulders, I got a chance to use my ice axe.

About 4 p.m., I found a smooth, flat, somewhat sheltered campsite at the edge of some krummholz at 11,700 feet in elevation about 100 yards south of the trail. I could have gone farther, but the steep terrain seemed to preclude decent campsites over the next few miles. Also, by this time ominous dark clouds were forming to the south.

I made camp and cooked dinner. About 7 p.m., a trail runner named Len arrived, hemming and hawing about whether to continue south along the CDT. He decided to stay rather than run eight more miles. Just before I turned in at 7:30 p.m., two northbound CDT hikers came by, but didn’t stop.

Another hard, but not exhausting, day.

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