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[CDT-L] CDT questions (2 of 3) - Routt NF blowdown

Hello Jim/Ginny -

Jim, you asked about the Routt NF blowdown:

Yup...it's there all right...complete with its own USFS hi-$ explanatory
billboards and brochures!  It is truly a big deal - millions of trees blown
over in huge patches of tangled/smashed trees.  I (in general) usually
stuck to the trails suggested by the guidebook and, as it turned out, was
only directly affected by the blowdown in two places (both in Segment 1).

Look at the map on page 46 of Jones' guidebook (top middle of the page when
you hold it sideways - section 14).  I came down from the north on trail
1101 into the big valley that is the watershed for the North Fork of the
Elk River (I think...the trail marking partially obscures the creek name
given on guidebook map).  FR431 was obvious when I crossed it and I could
see FR409 off to the west.  I ran into my first big patch of blowdown right
about where the "14" is in section 14.  The trail was completely covered as
far as I could see (could see for a half mile, maybe) and there was
blowdown extending way off on both sides (miles!).

I spent about an hour discovering that I REALLY didn't want to go thru the
blowdown...only got about 150-200' in that time and was creeping along
jackstraw horizontal tree trunks 5-10' above sharp punji stakes (smashed
limbs sticking up...SHARP points...) for the entire distance.  I absolutely
would not suggest that anyone try to get thru the blowdown...especially in
shorts with a pack!

I wound up offsetting down to the dirt road (FR431) that was on the other
side of the creek (North Fork), on the theory that I had seen tire tracks
where I had crossed the dirt road a few minutes earlier (bottom of section
11)...they got there somehow <g>.  Sure enough, loggers had cut thru the
blowdown and opened up FR431 all the way down to FR400.  The stretch of
FR431 from just below its intersection with FR409 down to FR400 is gated
(locked) with new gates ...apparently has something to do with who gets to
harvest that patch of blowdown (no problem for hikers to get around both
gates).  I walked down FR431 to FR400, so I don't really know how far south
the blowdown blocked trail 1101.

North Fork is a busy creek, but is fairly narrow in places, so I would
guess that it would be pretty easy to do a rock-jumping ford if a
northbounder wanted to go north on 1101 (from FR400) and then just offset
over to FR431 when they hit the south side of the blowdown patch.  Once you
offset over, staying on FR431 (past the FR409 intersection) will bring you
back to 1101 just above the north side of the blowdown patch.

As I came down along the driveway, I had been looking at the map on pages
46-47 and will admit to doing a little wishing that I had good contour
maps...I would have liked to explore the possibility of sticking closer to
the divide thru the north part of Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area (beautiful!).
One things for sure...if we ever try it, we had better get some good advice
on just exactly where the patches of blowdown are...huge patches are all
over that area and the FS billboard says that no harvesting is ever planned
for inside the wilderness itself.

The only other place that I changed route because of blowdown was also on
the map on page 46.  Notice (going north, this time <g>) that Segment 1
(red) starts at the boundary of the wilderness area and goes north.  It
isn't all that clear from the map (the trail marking obscures what is under
it), but somewhere along there (outside the wilderness) the trail turns
into a roadwalk as FR443 (dirt road to trailhead) starts up.  About a mile
later, the CDT leaves the road (to the north at the last "3" in "433") to
cut across the big loop the road makes off to the west.  The trail then
rejoins FR433 and continues NE as a roadwalk up to where it meets FR400
(past there a bit you are going to have to decide if you want to follow
1101 until it hits blowdown or if you want to offset over to FR431 at

The little cut-off trail is signed as being closed on its north end.  I
didn't see any blowdown when I came upon it from the north (I followed
instructions and road-walked the dusty loop up the side of the valley,
anyway), but I did notice quite a bit of blowdown up on top.  I never did
see where a northbounder would leave the road to take the cut-off, so I
don't know how it is signed at that end.

Be sure to take pictures of the blowdown...it sure makes you appreciate the
power running around loose out there!  The camp ranger at Ben DeLatour
Scout Ranch told me about a group of friends  who were hunting in that area
when the blowdown storm hit.  They had their horses picketed in a sheltered
valley near their cabin.  When the storm blew in, one of the hunters tried
to get out to check the horses...he couldn't walk in the wind, so he
crawled about halfway before the falling trees blocked his way.  He
returned to the shelter of the cabin, where the group waited out the storm
under the bunks.  The cabin was hit by a couple of falling trees, but they
were rooted far enough away so that only their tops hit the cabin (minor
damage to the roof).  The horses came out ok...they pulled their pickets
loose and dodged the trees (took the hunters all day to find them...and
another day to work them out of the tangle!).

Nice story...I didn't believe it until I saw the blowdown for myself!

- Charlie II  AT (MEGA'93)
             PCT (Mex@Can'95)
         Chipping away at the CDT

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