[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

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

Hi all!
Though Kahley exaggerates just a tad, she was right in saying that climbing 
Parkview in whiteout conditions, or crossing the notch between Mt. James 
and Bancroft, were not the highlights of this trip for me. Today was a 
continuation of the same. While the new trail between Berthoud Pass and 
Jones Pass was a real pleasure, we weren't really expecting to have to 
cross Jones Pass twice, once in each direction. Yesterday morning we 
started toward Silverthorn. It started to rain, then sleet, then snow. By 
10:00, we couldn't find the trail, and we were soaked clear through. 
Thinking it would pass quickly, we set up the tent and settled in for a 
nap. It was a long nap. At noon it cleared, but by the time we finished 
lunch, it was snowing again. By 2 we were enjoying thundersnow and hail. By 
5 it was calm, but it was too late to start over that 12,000' pass, so we 
started to cook dinner - wrong move, back came the snow. Having spent all 
day in bed, reading, writing and shivering (we've sprung a leak), of course 
we spent all night debating what to do the next day. Two big passes with 
"obscure trail" under several inches of snow didn't sound great, even if it 
cleared up.
Well, the first thing we saw when we opened the tent fly was fresh 
snowflakes, falling on our faces. We decided to be sane and bail out. Not 
without a lot of debate mind you, since sanity isn't always my first 
choice, but wisdom prevailed. Good thing too. We started back down the 
Bobtail Creek Valley for Jones Pass Road and the clouds moved in. The 
higher we climbed, the wetter, windier and cloudier it got. At the pass the 
snow was drifted 15" deep (as we discovered when we stumbled into a few 
soft piles, unable to see for the ice blowing in our faces.) I realized 
then that this wasn't just an adventure, that we really were at serious 
risk. It was still a few miles down to treeline, it was snowing so hard we 
couldn't see more than 20 feet ahead, if that, the road was deep in snow 
and unlikely to be traveled for a few days, and we were cold, wet and 
totally exposed to whatever the clouds chose to drop on us. For a while, as 
we wove our way down toward the valley below, I got really scared. Like the 
other day, as we crossed the notch between Bancroft and James, we wondered 
why we were risking our lives out here. Then we reached the valley, and for 
a while the sun was shining and we were able to look up and see the beauty 
of the snowy peaks, the orange and gold of the aspens and the clear blue 
sky, and my fears receded. We got a couple of rides around to Silverthorn, 
where we met John Kincheloe, (Seinfeld AT 98) who offered us the 
hospitality of his home for a couple of days while we dry out, buy me some 
warmer boots, rewaterproof tent and raingear and wait for the snow in the 
high country to melt. What comes next? We don't know. We pray for Indian 
Summer, but we may not get it. Thanks to the winter gear that was waiting 
for us in Silverthorn, we're a little better prepared than we were two days 
ago, but I really don't want to spend the next month playing in the snow. 
We'll keep you posted.
Walk softly,
Ginny and Jim
Flight of the Spirit Eagle

Message from the Continental Divide Trail Mailing List

To:            spiriteagle@circumtech.com