Continental Divide Trail – Day 40

June 10, 2023
Miles Today/ Total: 17.0 / 726.6

I set an alarm for 5am this morning. I wanted to get some time in while the snow was still hard. It froze last night so the snow was hard and the water was frozen on top.

I had gotten off trail late yesterday and the trail was actually on the ridge beside my camp. I climbed up the ridge and found the trail. It was mostly snow-free as it followed the ridge line up to the top of the mountain. There were a few snow drifts, but I was able to walk around most of them.

After reaching the top, the trail began descending. I was a gradual descent and although it was snow covered I was able to make good time on the frozen snow. However, that changed as the trail turned and began traversing the north side of the mountain in a tree covered forest. There was several feet of snow on this slope and I put on my crampons and grabbed my ice axe for this section. I was following the tracks of a couple of previous hikers and utilizing there footholds that were cut in the steep slope. Everything was going fine until I reached a spot where a hiker had slid down the slope about 20 feet and stopped in a tree well. That was a little unnerving. I focused on enlarging the footholds and slowly worked my way across. It was a long and tedious endeavor.

Reaching the end of the traverse the trail dropped down into the valley and went past a couple of lakes. The lakes were still partially frozen, but had a beautiful blue color.

The trail climbed back up out of the valley and continued across some large snow fields. As the day heated up the snow became slushy on top and there were several areas where I post-holed multiple times.

I had been walking in snow all day and was concerned about finding a place to setup my tent. About 6:30 I found a small area under some trees and with a little snow removal I was able to set up my tent. As the sun set behind the mountains the temperature began to drop and I cooked dinner in my tent sitting in my sleeping bag.

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