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We are currently on another long distance hike, and the third leg of our "triple crown", the Continental Divide Trail (the "CDT"). Come along with us if you can - if not in person then by following our grand adventure via our "posts from the trail".  Check out our Flickr Photos, which we'll update periodically, and see it through our eyes!

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"Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Journal July 14 – Elk Wallow In It.

Sunrise on the Wall was as magnificent as we expected it would be. An ideal day to be walking in the early morning light. Slow going – taking all those photos.

The trail has been largely unsigned and unmarked. Even the trail’s line on the map is very general, including none of the many switchbacks. Descending one ridge we ignored the side trail to the creek and followed another in a series of switchbacks, until we were half a mile (and 300 vertical feet) down the wrong trail. It just seemed like we were dropping too low and in the wrong direction. A close look at the map and GPS confirmed my suspicion. Back up we went to follow the “side” trail.

When asked if he would like a glass of water, WC Fields notabley responded: “I never touch the stuff, fish pee in it.” Well, there’s a good reason to get drinking water from the high creeks coming straight out of the wall’s cracks – anything puddling up in the basins….well, Elk wallow it. They sure do.

We came across a ridge in our walk at the base of the wall and spotted about a dozen elk grazing and wallowing in the shallow waters. They were upwind and took off, continuing upwind, for the next ridge. There they scattered. But two young bulls would continue to lead our way along the wall, playing hide and seek for several miles. It was easy to know when we were near – just follow your nose. These elk had a strong and distinct odor, sort of like cattle but a little “sweeter” and more gamey.

For several miles we crossed through an old burn from 1988. Time and weather have bleached white the dead trees, standing like skeletons and leaving little of the landscape to imagination. The wind howls, whistles and whispers through these open basins, ridges and tall white tree skeletons. The souls of the trees survive; they wail and answer the wind with faint, but very human sounding, laughter, cries and chatter. Wind and trees join the constant babbling of the creeks in a wilderness chorus.

The 8 miles or so of walking along the wall was slow and tiring. Switchbacks, lingering snow, lots of divides, downed trees and time for photos combined to slow our pace. We didn’t reach Red Shale creek, where the trail turns away from thw wall, until almost 5pm. We needed to make some more miles, but knew our options for camping would be limited, until we turned back up Rock creek. Off we went at a brisk pace, first through “the Green” and then re-entering part of the 1988 burned area. Nine more miles and less than 4 hours later, with legs tired and numb from nearly constant motion, we found a decent spot to camp near Miner creek.

John, a CDT hiker from England, was already camped near the creek. He mentioned that a small group of other hikers are camped on the far side of the creek. We’ll wait till morning to meet them. Light is fading and nightime chores need to be done: I’ll set up a spot to hang the bear bag and make dinner, while the Carrot sets up the tent and the “nest”. We also need to get water and put on layers to keep the mosquitoes at abeyance.

Trail miles aprox 17.5

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Flora & Fauna

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