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!

Our Credo...

"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 24 Our Turn

The morning sun rose through a gap in the mountains and warmed the tent, so we arose to walk. A ridge walk along the divide, skirting the highes peaks by contouring high on their flanks. Endless views abound, with more mountains in all directions.

We came around a bend high on the divide and were within 50 to 60 yards of a herd of Elk. Mostly cows and alot of young calves, laying down in the grass soaking up the warm early morning sun. It took them a while to notice us but when they did they took off, some seeming reluctant to give up their prime location.

The ridgewalking was so nice that we kept right on walking past a trail junction where the CDT drops. Not a major delay, but it added about three quarters of a mile.

Today was our turn for rain, the first storm setting in as we were leaving Piedra pass. At least it waited unitl we were done with lunch. The rain was steady but not so bad that we couldn’t keep walking. Until we started to rise to open slopes and the clouds began to produce thunder and lightning. We sheltered ourselves beneath some smaller trees and waited.

Hiking again along ridges, the afternoon was turning to evening when another storm cell began a steady rain mixed with some small hail. We walked on. As the evening rain was letting up we came across another herd of elk. This one numbered several dozen, but they must have been without a leader as the herd was very indecisive. First they moved towards the uphill, then cicled a few strides, then finally went down the creek into the cover of heavier woods.

Across the landscape large swaths of trees are all brown, dead, or dying, likely the result of severe insect infestations, which are plaguing parts of Colorado. Our vocabulary is insuffucient to describe to the situation. We tend towards words implying destruction, devastation and loss. And yet, that is only part of what is happenning. Even on this scale, some ecologists believe these disease and insect outbreaks to be part of larger, poorly undertood, natural cycles of death and regeneration. While this may be true it’s hard not to be struck with sadness over the loss of so much green forest. On the trail, there are also a couple of immediate, and profound, impacts.

The dead trees increase the amount of downfall across the trail, especially older growth, large downfall. The big trees are sometimes impossibe to go over, or under. On a steep slope, the hike uphill to go aorund a tall tree is not easy. When a large number of trees are down, the trail tread can be so obscured that, after going around the first two or three treees, finding the trail again can become a guessing game.

The rat-a-tat-tat-tat drilling of the Hairy Woodpeckers reminds us that nature uses the niche opportunity provided by all altered habitats, even large swaths of dead and dying spruce trees.

Eventually the rain stopped and we enjoyed the setting sun as it cast late day, bright light on mountain ridges set against dark clouds.

We made camp in a small pass covered with spruce and fir, mostly green ones. Camping around or under the dead trees being a game akin to “Russian Roulette”.

17 miles

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Clicking on any of these photos will take you to that specific photo on our Flickr Stream, where you can view these and many, many more photos from our latest adventure....or use this shortcut to all photos.....we hope you enjoy them!

People Shots

CDT20101_NMWCWMCDT2010_TheTrailCDT2010_NMWC-1Carrot After a Trail BathCarrot Stream Crossing #3,768Carrot on the Trail stillCarrot takes a Trail BathCarrot Stream Crossing #5.875Carrot on the TrailCliff Dwelling SignCarrot takes a PhotoCarrot Stream Crossing # 2,115

Scenic Shots

CDT2010-valleyCDT2010_yellowflowersCarrot on the Trail 3ScenicPotty BreakScenicCliff Dwelling Stream Vast DesertPrickly Pear 2Prickly PearPlateau at Sunset

Flora & Fauna

CDT2010_treesCDT2010_yellowflowersCDT2010-purpleflowersAngry MarmotFlora 3FloraBeaverButterfly 2FloraButterfly