Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 25: Rodger's Pass to Old Cabin

The blue skies overhead belied the dark clouds gathering over the next ridge. Rain and frigid night weather congealed the hail balls into sheets of ice. We crunched down the trail, breaking through the icy covering with every step. 

Our trail soon disappeared, and we were left to follow a series of rock cairns (some with wooden posts for markers) along the ridge. We searched for dirt patches in the rocky grass or for grass pressed down by footprints, or for any other signs that other humans had passed this way. We found none. 

The Continental Divide Trail is an interesting concept, but it does not yet exist. For now it is a Continental Divide route, cobbled together using existing trails and roads, animal trails, and no trail at all. In places the trail exists only as a line on the map, and hikers are left to follow the route cross country as best they can. 

And yet somehow we love this trail that's not a trail, this series of dots left for us to connect. And so we lean into the wind and march forward, toward the next cairn or waypoint. We are truly taking the road (or route) less traveled, and it is making all the difference. 

As we followed the ridgeline we looked over the precipice to icy lakes frozen below. Summer has not yet breached winter's defenses in these high alpine lake basins. In contrast, on the other side of the ridge we were swimming in a sea of purple and gold blooms. 

We regained trail at Rollins Pass, a popular trailhead for those wishing to hike to the Devil's Thumb, a rugged volcanic rock outcropping. The trailhead on the other side proved even more popular, and we passed numerous day hikers and backpackers as we descended. One of these, a strong backpacker who used to work in Kings Canyon National Park, shared a bag of Skittles with Sierra. 

For the rest of the day our trail meandered through the forest on good, albeit marshy in places, trail. I struggled with an upset stomach, but was still able to make progress due to the more moderate terrain. 

We found camp near the ruins of an old cabin.  Just in time -- the rains began as we finished setting up our tent.  The rain alternately drizzled and poured for almost two hours. Then, as the rain stopped, a CDT hiker, Chimichanga, stopped by our camp. Determined to reach one of the campgrounds by the lake, he pressed on into the dark. 

1 comment: