[cdt-l] Grand Lake is Grand

Jim and/or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 14 15:50:28 CDT 2006

The last ten days or so have been beautiful and challenging - much as we 
expected.  We are both doing well, aside from the usual aches and pains, and 
are happy to be out here enjoying this awesome trail.

The good news is the Weather Witch seems to have finally taken leave of us - 
Skeeter, are you hiking this week?  We actually had three days in a row with 
no significant rain - Hurray! This was especially appreciated when we did 
our traverse of the five thirteeners - almost 17 miles that day above 
treeline, with thunderstorms to the north, south and east of us, while the 
wind was coming from the west.  Weather has slowed us down, and caused us to 
spend more time in towns than intended, which we enjoyed enormously.  It is 
hard to leave a warm dry shelter to go out into all day rains - so we 
didn't.  Leadville was explored in depth, and Dillon/Silverthorne got more 
of our time and money than planned, but since I needed new shoes, a haircut 
and a book to read, it was worth it, especially as the rain fell the whole 
time we were there.

This last section had some really awesome views, despite the daily rains.  
Wildflowers are still abundant, in amazing variety.  One thing, does anyone 
know what is killing off the spruce forests?  I read that the pine borer is 
killing the Lodgepole pines, but is it also destroying the spruce?  Around 
Grand Lake especially, it looks like autumn with the red, yellow and brown 
trees everywhere.  That will make a huge difference to future hikers - and 
maintainers as they are already starting to fall on the trail.

Not much wildlife this week.  A few herds of elk and some miscellaneous 
deer.  Lots of moose scat - but no fur so far.

A couple of thoughts - the Notch has not gotten any easier.  There were 
fewer cairns, and it seemed that some of the rocks that used to provide 
trail have fallen into the abyss.  Could be imagination - but that was one 
scary traverse!  I sure wouldn't want to attempt it with a dog.  For those 
who don't know - while bushwhacking between James Peak and Bancroft ,there 
is a 200 or so yard section of rock, connecting the two peaks.  The drop is 
several hundred feet on each side.  The only way across, is hand over hand, 
climbing up the rock and down the rocks and between the rocks.  The climb on 
each end is several hundred feet, straight up the talus.  With my fear of 
falling, it was a challenge, to say the least.  After about 4000' of 
climbing that day, and with thunderclouds all around, it was 'interesting' - 
for sure.

And then there were the marmots who attempted to break into our tent, while 
we were sitting in it.  They went after hiking poles, packs, shoes, and 
tried very hard to get under the flaps to get in.  They were completely 
persistent - and totally unafraid of us.  Attackign them with a shoe only 
scared them off for a few minutes at a time.  Fortunately, darkness fell and 
they finally went home.  But we were worried about the dawn - so we left 
really early, for us.

Indian Peaks Wilderness - the Jim Wolf route is much much better. The 
official route is easy - but it is a flat nearly viewless walk in the trees. 
  The Wolf route is spectacular.  If you are southbound, and can get a 
permit, I highly recommend it.

We're almost out of time - only 30 minutes is allowed at the library.  
(Which is better than paying 30 cents a minute, as Kinko's required!)

Walk softly,

Ginny and Jim


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