CDT, Day 4 — July 4
On the trail at 5:45 a.m., later than I wanted. I gained a bit of elevation then headed downhill and met CDT section hiker Rambler, who was heading south. The steep switchbacks ended at a trailhead. I got water from a creek then headed uphill.
The first two miles of the trail tested my mettle and then some, forcing me to take many short standing rest breaks. After the trail broke out of the trees, the grade lessened a bit. Given the impending bad weather, I hiked as fast as I could, which wasn't very fast.
After I passed the 12,000-foot elevation mark, two sturdy, young hikers overtook me. I asked the guy if he would be willing to carry my pack to the top, because I wasn’t sure that I could reach the summit by noon. He kindly agreed, and his girlfriend carried his day pack. They hiked ahead and I lagged behind, even minus the weight of my pack. I reached the summit at 11 a.m. with only minor clouds overhead. What a relief! I thanked my friends and headed downhill to the north.
After a few miles of steep, rough hiking, I ate lunch on the steep western side of Haystack Mountain, with grand views toward the west. Onward for a half mile to Rogers Pass. The next five miles featured cairns with wooden posts to mark the route, but without a defined trail in most places. Difficult hiking, with elevation gains that seemed greater than indicated on the map.
At one point, I met six people who had bushwhacked up from a lake below the Continental Divide. They kindly gave me a burrito and two fig bars. Thank you!
I continued through alpine tundra toward to Rollins Pass (elevation 11,660 feet) and the former town site of Corona. As I neared the pass, I dropped down to a road and bummed a quart of water from two nice folks in their SUV. When I arrived at the pass, dark clouds had filled the sky, spitting cold rain. Continuing north on the CDT required gaining elevation and staying above treeline for three miles. Probably not smart given the weather.
So I decided to camp in the Corona town site, where I found a level, and smooth camp site protected by two berms of soil that once served as railroad spurs. Score! I called Betsy to let her know that I was OK. After dinner, I snuggled in my sleeping bag and fell asleep. Another short but hard day.