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[CDT-L] Update: Flight of the Spirit Eagle

I'm sorry that I haven't posted earlier, but this week has been
full of frantic floyd flood preps.  This is from Jim and Ginny's call,
last week from Grand Lake followed by their call today.
Again, these reports come my memory and scant notes,
so if I mess up on the sequencing, please forgive.

Grand Lake
Well this section has taken them waay high through some
pretty iffy conditions.  They encountered their first snow,
and what an encounter it was.  As they broke camp, they
studied the ridge to come and the sky was about fifty fifty.
In the best of thru hiker tradition, they decided that meant
the glass was half=f full and headed up.  Once they gained
the ridge, they found a scant 20ft treadway with 1000 ft
drop on either side.  Then it began to snow and shortly
they were stuck in whiteout conditions.  One good thing
about a twenty foot wide ridge, it's hard to get lost, even if
you can't see where you are headed.  But the situation
got complicated when the ridge spilt into three.  Thankfully,
the weather broke for about a minute, and through a gap in the
clouds the sun broke in and they could take a quick bearing,
On they went until they stumbled onto a rangers cabin and took
refuge from the wind and snow to eat lunch and recoup.
While they were there, the skys cleared and they had a chance
to see where they had been.  Ginny said the poor visibility
of the past hours had been a blessing because she would not
have wanted to see what they were traveling across.  Ingnorance
of the drop offs was bliss.  
They have seen many  black powder  and bow hunters, on foot,
on horseback and on ATV's.  This is a special early season for the
more primitive weaponry that Jim and Ginny had not anticipated
so they have to find some orange ASAP.  Their wildlife sightings
have been cut back somewhat, perhaps due to the hunting
activity, but they did see a big bull moose keeping company with
two cow and a calf.
Grand Lake is a nifty little village, where all directions are given
in reference to the stable which is a half mile closer to the center
of town than the PO. 

Winter Park,
Well our hikers have had a rough go off it  They are in the high high
country with 13,000, 14,000 foot peaks and camps at 11,000.
Some acclimation to these altitudes has happened,  at least enough
that when they hit town at 9,000 , the air feels soupy and heavy.
But they are having a rough go with the lack of air on the peaks.
I think they said it was yesterday when they did 5 14,000 peaks.
And unlike many western trails, this not graded for stock.
It fact, there really isn't a trail, just a lot of loose talus and rocky
boulders with a grade of 1500 per mile.  Ginny said it's a lot
like the 'worst' of the Whites, only at 14000 ft.  Either there
are no cairns except maybe every 1/2 mile or there are many
cairns, as if every hiker had marked his own route and there
was no way to tell which was the best.
Yesterday, they took 12 hours to do 10 miles because Ginny
is having some trouble with the altitude. .. well they both are
breathing hard.  One step = two breathes.  And it happened
to be along one of the roughest stretches of the trail.
Conditons were worse than the ones that I related earlier, and
they did not have the blessing of ignorance.  The ridge was
basically just 10ft wide and nothing but loose rock with a 1000ft
drop on either side.....and while the weather was not soupy
enough to hide the danger, it wasn't clear enough to reward
with views either.  And then there was this certain notch that
Ginny had been fussing about since she first read of it.  They
didn't have to do it, there was an alternate route but Ginny
felt that because she feared it so much, she had to do it.
I can't remember the words they used when they talked of it
because i was literally on the edge of my seat with mouth agape.
I admit that with tales like this, I have trouble making notes.
But the term ridiculous sticks in my mind and suicidal.  But
they did it!!! 
Their mileage has been shot to hell and they knew they didn't
have enough food to last them till Silverthorn so they hitched
into Winter Park for resupply.  They had spotted the town
from the ridge and Jim said to Ginny, now that looks like
an expensive little town and he was right!!!  But with a burger
a bed and a double breakfast and some more food, they are
back on the trail, expecting to hit Silerthorn and hopefully
Internet access on Monday. 
This has got to be a rough time in their hike.  Winter is snapping
at their heels and they know they are racing the snows to get
through the high country. They have come soo far, yet have so
far to go.  It must be like being in the exact middle of the tunnel......
the point at which you can no longer see the light at either end.

There may be some change in their maildrop schedule in this
next section.....they may come off the opposite side of the
ridge, so hold off sending anything to Salida or Lake City
till after I hear from them on Monday.  Hopefully, we may have
news via e-mail, direct from the hikers themselves.
Till then, that all folks. except you can e-them at spiriteagle99@hotmail.com