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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!

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 28 High Point

After going to bed with skies clear, except for a multitude of stars and the Milky Way, the rains began around 4am. Morning came with wet ground and still cloudy skies.

We startd the long climb up back to the divide, up Pole Creek. Pole creek follows a wide open valley, sparsely treed but with lots of grass, wildlfowers and willow brush. And cows, the first we’ve seen since leaving Wolf Creek Pass. We’re out of the Weminuche wilderness now.

We had breakfast on a high bluff with views up the broad valleys of both the west and middle forks of Pole Creek. Storm clouds were already brewing on the crest. We resigned ourselves to facing yet another rainy day.

Continuing up Pole Creek, with occasional spritzes of rain and hail partnered with occasionally sunny breaks, we joined the divide and climbed to a pass at 12,900 feet. It’s an idyllic spot tucked tight between two mountains and the divide, with a spring right below the top of the pass. It’s a spot we camped in about 12 years ago. We take lunch and enjoy a commanding view of the valley below, watching 3 hikers climb the pass. Our lunch is shortened by an emerging storm. We walk on to stay warm. The rain comes and goes, sometimes heavy. After an hour we’re tired of battling it and concerned about the upcoming pass which is even more exposed, so we find a small clump of trees to take some shelter from the wind-driven rain and hail.

45 minutes later there’s a break in the squall so we move on. The temperature has dropped, so we layered up, short and long polypro shirts, rain pants and jackets and gloves.

We climbed on trail then jeep roads, sometimes very steeply, and reached a gap in a ridgeline on the divide. Turning east, we faced another long, steep climb towards a summit on the crest.

Rounding a false summit we followed yet a few more switchbacks of trail and finally we top out at 13,250 feet, our highest point in elevation of this year’s journey. The views are stunning, especially looking back at the area we’ve just walked through. The continental divide does a big loop around the headwaters of the Rio, so we’ve spent a week and covered 100 trail miles to look aout 20 or so miles back at where we began.

To the south of us, the divide we walked on a couple days ago is getting blasted by a severe storm cell, dark swirling clouds, heavy sheets of rain so thick they obscure everything.

Our path ahead includes several miles of high exposed ridges around 13,000 feet with occasional dips into shallow passes or gaps. There seems to be an opening for us with a fairly benign front of clouds behind us, so we continue on.

It’s a high elevation walk with stunning panoramas, but the terrain ahead is more like a rolling plateau than a series of peaks and valleys. Pleasant walking, but a definite change. It feels as if one mountain range is ending and another beginning.

The San Juans have been rugged and difficult, but rewarding, so it’s with mixed feelings that we move forward through this new landscape.

The low gaps in this plateau offer little flat sheltered areas for camping. With another very severe storm forming in the main valley to our north we keep walking. A broad pass ahead looked flat enough but what was supposed to be springs are stagnant pools of water and seeping wet ground. We keep going.

The next saddle is nothing but slope. We keep going.

It’s getting late when we finally drop into a notch with some small stunted willows and drop down a hundred or so feet to find a very small bench, just big enough for one tent, but it’s at least somehwhat sheltered from prevailing winds by the slope. From the quantity of elk “sign” we know the area should be reasonably sheltered. We’re low on water, but will make do with what we have.

On our last ridge walk we came across a very confused and panicked Pika. He ran circles around our footsteps, finally stopping right beside the trail in a small clump of grass, motionless.

From our camp we watch tall dark thunderheads glow red and orange at their bottom funneling the setting sun’s rays from the top down, “raining fire in the sky.”

Miles 17.0

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Flora & Fauna

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