[Cdt-l] Cumbres Pass to wolf creek pass- Brian and martina update

Brian Dickson briansolar1 at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Jun 11 17:31:45 CDT 2009

Brian and martina arrived in Pagosa Springs on Tuesday 9th june after a four day hike from Cumbres Pass. We are hanging out here as martina needs dental treatment and the weather is pretty bad at the moment with rain and snow on the hills above 9000ft. - Also the springs are wonderful and worth the $20 admission!
The scenery is fantastic and probably the best we have seen on the hike so far from Mexico.
North of Cumbres we just followed the official cdt and hiked through the short logging section which was easy and popped out at the big log boundary fence on ridge about 5 miles north of cumbres. It involved some cross country but we just followed wolf creek up to the ridge. Its much easier hiking than the difficulties we met further north and it wasn't really worth the worry I had before hand.
We hit a fair amount of snow before Blue lake and north from that. Its mainly in the trees on north facing slopes and just made the hike harder going than it would be normally. At Adams Creek however, the trail takes a high level contour round the valley on steep slopes so we just glissaded into the meadow below and hiked up the meadow to meet the cdt again.
north of Silver Pass the trail is in a bad way with some snow but mainly blowdowns. Its very slow going and we just x-countried on a compass bearing for a couple of miles. It didn't seem worth the effort of sticking to the trail. 
The highest level part of the hike around summit and Montezuma peaks is actually quite clear of snow and was the easiest hiking we had. we camped about 12,500ft near here. 
We enjoyed having boots instead of running shoes as the boots are better for kicking steps in the snow and kept our feet drier and warmer then running shoes. I would say an ice axe (and knowing how to use it) are almost a necessity at the moment up here and we probably would have returned without ours. We didn't have crampons and I don't think I would have used them if I had them. The snow was never 'rock hard' and we could always kick steps with the boots.
Next steps
Both of us are keen to hike the San Juans and enjoy the scenery. With that in mind we are thinking of flipping to Copper Mountain then walking south through the San Juans back to Pagosa. This will give about another 3 weeks for the snow to melt (including all the fresh snow that has been dumped in the last 2 days).
happy hiking 

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