Sunday, June 29, 2014

Day 20: Georgia Pass to Peru Creek

We crunched our way through the snowy woods to that alpine meadows near Georgia Pass. Nestled in the grass were cheerful yellow sunflowers, faces turned and petals open to embrace the morning sun

Just before Georgia Pass our trail split away from the Colorado Trail for the last time. No more smooth, gently graded, well marked trail for us. It is time to embrace the brutality. 

Today's hike blew me away. Literally. Our route took us up and over multiple ridges, mountains, and peaks, including Glacier Peak, Whale Peak, Geneva Peak, Sullivan Mountain, and Santa Fe Peak. All the while a steady gale blasted us from the left, pushing us off the trail, when there was one.  At times we followed steep Jeep roads, at other times we followed narrow, rocky goat trails, and occasionally there was no trail at all. 

Although I planned to gather water at a seasonal stream, the high winds evaporated the water almost as fast as the sun could melt it. I finally resorted to scooping up water from a snowmelt puddle a few ounces at a time. The current route, high along the Continental Divide, is beautiful, but it severely limits access to water. 

A mountain goat greeted us at Webster Pass, his white silky hair fluffed by the wind. He tentatively approached us, looking curiously at our bright colors, then scrambled back up the mountain. 

We fought the wind all day, constantly leaning to the left into the wind. A strong gust slammed me into a sharp rock, ripping a hole in my pants

The data book indicated we needed to follow a trail off to the right. Although a faint trail was visible to right, the GPS indicated the trail should be a tenth of a mile back up the hill.  But a huge corniced snowfield covered the area where the GPS indicated the trail should have been. We decided to follow the visible trail instead. 

Our trail soon disintegrated into cross country down a steep hillside with loose dirt and rocks.  Four large stags bounded away as we approached, undoubtedly startled to find humans invading their domain. Later I startled a small fawn, so perfectly camouflaged against the rocks that I did not notice it until I was only a few feet away. The fawn effortlessly bounded across the steep, rocky hillside. 

Although there was no camping in sight, the sun set and we had to stop for the night. We found a gradual slope on the otherwise steep hillside. Although there was no room for our full tent, we set up the inner bugnet as a precaution against rolling down the steep hill. 

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