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[CDT-L] "Blue blazing" the CDT

Hello Ginny -

You asked:

>Did you do the Divide route over James, Parry and Bancroft Peaks?...

No, I followed the recommended roadwalk in the guidebook.  There were a few
places during my trip that I might have done a little differently if I were
clever enough to be holding good contour maps...this is one of them <g>.

This is very very nice country.  It is places like this that cause me to
pause and ponder my usually-unrepentant urge to thru-hike...some places
demand a visit just for themselves!

My highest personal goal for my distance hikes (since I went thru the
process of making up my mind to hike the AT) has been to "enjoy the hike as
a whole"...instead of to "stop and smell the flowers" at any particularly
special place along the way.  I try to do a distance hike in a way that
lets me smell as many flowers as possible...but, for me, first priority is
always to keep doing the things that allow me to meet my overall goals for
the entire hike.  In short, I will go out of my way for something
special...but not TOO far <g>.

The special locations that seem to be "out of scope" for the distance hike
get put onto a "go back to later" list.  One of the reasons that I like to
distance hike is that I get to base (and prioritize) this very personal
list on first-hand observation.

The James-Bancroft route is an excellent example of a place that I found
particularly attractive.  I really would have enjoyed having the ability
(local info, maps, proper equipment(?), etc.) to seriously consider
following the divide instead of the roadwalk around that segment.  Maps
would have been a good start...doing my homework like you are doing would
have been another <g>.

James Peak was a nice hike from the north.  Lots of folks up on top and
coming/going on the southern approaches (I arrived there on a Sunday
morning).  No other distance hikers, not even any backpackers.  The trail
down to Loch Lommond was an interesting walk (folks to talk to at first,
nobody after making the sharp turn south).  Loch Lommond was a beautiful
and busy OTR camp...those folks have a completely different way to enjoy
the backcountry!  From there to FR174 was a fairly uninteresting dusty

The hike from FR174 back up to the divide was a lot more interesting.  Ran
into a bunch of Polish tourists who were hunting mushrooms along
FR174...had huge sacks of BIG brown toadstools (they claimed to recognize
the type they were picking, even though the mushrooms were a lot bigger
than the ones they ate in Poland...).  I have always been interested in the
reasons we humans work in the wilderness (logging, mining, construction,
surveying, etc.) and the ample evidence of old mines gave me a lot of food
for thought as I came south from FR174.  The guidebook directions weren't
all that clear in that area, so I got to see a lot of very interesting old
mine locations as I wandered around <g>.

Ran into a geologist/professor who was spending a Sunday afternoon looking
for good classroom examples of the kinds of samples that the miners had to
analyze as they made go/nogo decisions on the fly during their mining
operations.  He knew a lot of the history of the area and had a good idea
of the kinds of technology that the various ruins represented
(interestingly enough, he hadn't thought much about what the miner's life
was like).  I was quite willing to camp there on the tailing pile and to
keep talking all night...but half of the conversation had to get back to
town to go to work the next day <VBG>.

Either way (staying on the divide or not), I would have missed some
interesting experiences that are quite a bit different from those I find
here in Alabama!

>...Do they have a route over Mt. Gray that is workable for the CDT yet?...

Grays Peak?  Not having contour maps, I didn't even consider following the
divide around Arapahoe Basin (way too steep on the side that I could see).
The hike down over the back (south) from the top of the chairlift was nice.
The trail is fairly well used by mountain bikes (they probably go up on
the chair and ride down the back) and somebody must have put some extra $
into its construction/maintenance,  - its a LOT better trail than anything
in that entire part of the CDT (from RMNP to the CT).

I enjoyed coming up the valley (toward Argentine Pass) along Peru
Creek...lotsa mines to poke around.  I like to try to imagine what it would
have been like to live/work there...I do NOT go inside (some of the
privately held mines haven't been dynamited shut).  I have done enough
caving to appreciate how stupid it would be for a solo distance hiker (no
precise itinerary) to go into those old mines.

There weren't many of the 400+ miles that I hiked that I didn't find
interesting in one way or another.  Good maps and a little local knowledge
(good guidebook?) will give us the option of picking and choosing between
the various alternative routes that collectively make up the current CDT.
The choice can usually be made at the point where the various alternatives
split off, taking into account all the variables that are important to each
unique hiker at each unique time.  For me, having this element of "on the
fly" choice is one of the charms of the CDT...it lets me scratch my
"purist" itch in a completely different way from the highly structured AT.
Don't get me wrong, being a purist was a VERY important part of the
personal goals I set for myself on my AT hike...I just don't feel any
overwhelming urge to do every distance hike in exactly the same way <g>.

Your good question has started me thinking about the various places where I
had to sit down and do some thinking about alternative routes.  I will do
up another message when I come up with something to share about any of

>...a good gift to hint for for Christnas is the
>Westcliffe photobook/journal on the Colorado portion of the CDT. The PCT
>one is also really good - with Karen Bergers journal.  The PCT one is
>better written, but they are both worth buying.

Thanks...I glanced over the CDT book while I was out in Colorado (before I
did the hike...it should mean a lot more to me now <g>).  I will have to
see if either is in the local library or book shops.

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

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