[Cdt-l] Speedstick in Steamboat Springs

Moynihan mary.moynihan at gmail.com
Fri Jul 8 13:07:26 CDT 2011

Woot woot! Almost over the state line! One more heavy snow stretch and then
dry feet! I got here earlier than expected as the last day of walking is
easy breezy. I stayed at the Alpiner, wanted to treat myself and the staff
was super helpful to my needs. He gave me the room at the rate I wanted (it
was a slow thursday) and he let's hikers/bikers on the divide do laundry
there no charge. Super cool. Plus, it's right across from the Mahogony
Brewery which has an excellent amber. And a continental breakfast.
Anyways, here's a good long snow report for all those behind who have found
it helpful. Yeah, there is alot of snow and although I had a few miles in
the mix where I cursed this damn 2011 year or simply had more than a few
tears of disbelief and exhaustion, the reward makes it all worth it. The
trail has a way of giving back, if you respect her. Between trail angels and
wildlife sightings, beautiful creeks and views, there was always more
positive than negative. But, the miles from Leadville to Steamboat didn't
always come easy. I didn't have a plan most days, not wanting to be
defeated, and in the long run it worked out well, because here I am, a day
early in Steamboat.
A head's up to those behind: Snow quality overall is no longer staying firm
for a few morning hours. The temperature is up and will remain that way. I
also don't expect the snow to melt off in any considerable amount for the
northbound hiker. There is just too much.
OK: I took the Silverthorne route as it was my original plan anyway. I did
meet one CT hiker headed southbound who made it through Gray Torrey's route
using snowshoes. Sounded like a lot of work, but he was the first as I met
him on Kokomo Pass.
Kokomo to Seele and a few miles beyond....snow and alot.
Climbing from Copper Mnt I froggered across the highway and hit snow within
a couple of miles. It lasted strong and deep all the way up, over and down
Uneva Pass. I used crampons to get over the pass in the morning as it made
life easier. I decided I wanted a beer, took the beautifully easy,
wildflower abundant and snow free North Tenmile Creek trail right into
Frisco, walked the remainder of the bike route and headed back up to the
2 miles b4 Ptarmigan Pass to a good way down to South Fork Williams Creek be
prepared for snow. I wasn't sure of weather I was indeed on the right trail
down near the creek, I forded the small creek into an camp and the trail
took off stright north from there. Snow up above that creek walking alpine,
there's breaks in it and it was beautiful and easy walking. I busted out my
ice axe on one of the descents. It's steep.
Bobtail creek up to Jones Pass was the worst experience along the trail for
me so far. Snow all the way down and all the way up the road, which for me
seemed like an eternity of postholing. But then a few miles of
snow-free-I'm-skipping-I'm-so-happy walking.
Vasque Peak: snow all the way around it, it held for me most of the time.
Stanley: once you get up it's clear till Berthud.
It took me all day to walk 13.5 miles to Berthud. All day. And then a pebble
sized hailstorm, followed by a morning of intense wind that left a layer of
frost on the right side of my body. But once I cleared Mt Flora (rather snow
free) I had the best day of my whole hike so far, over Brekenridge Peak down
to the bottom and back to James Peak. There's snow near Bill Moore and
beyond, but with the GPS and the snow holding firm it didn't even phase me.
James Peak rocks!
Miles of beautiful snow free trail afterward to Devils Thumb Pass. (OK, a
patch or two....felt like snow free)
Snow dropping from Devils thrumb to 10,000 or so....snow along the meadowns
on High Lonesome.
.....blowdown hell after Monrach Lake. 1 mi/hr hell for miles. I don't know
what's worse. Snow or blowdowns... I think you'd be better off stuffing your
pack in a garbage bag and swimming the damn lake. The Columbine's are
everywhere though, so that made the mood a little more pleasant.
After Grand Lake.....I could see it being tricky figuribng out where trail
120.4 is.....I actually stopped in at the ranger station before heading down
to get the lowdown on snow and all. He said it was a good thing I was
skipping RMNP as he said it was impassable (I don't know how many times I
have been told this and then watch their shocked faces as I say I just came
down from such and such pass). He mentioned they received 17 feet in early
May alone! Damn! Anyways, snow up starting at the North Supply trailhead. I
dropped the purple x-c on Ley CO9 where there was ALOT of snow, but it
certainly shaved a huge amount of time off my day and I had a super up close
and friendly encounter with a porqupine! ( I dropped to the Illinois Ditch
from the tree slog which is near the word ROUTT between the red and purple
routes along Illinois River. Note: a number of miles, like a days worth are
relatively dry, two or three sources a day.
Snowfree along Trout Creek, past Willow Pass and then it picks up again
below Parkview. Clear the second half of the climb and then patchy after
Troublesome Pass. Relatively clear after until after Sheep Mountain. Watch
the trail where it meets Grassy Run Trail on CO7....I ventured down that for
a brief moment and realized something was off.
Heavy, heavy snow climbing up to the forest road along Rabbit Ears Range.
Once your up, it's mostly smooth sailing, with one small, slightly slow you
down patch, all the way until, well Rabbit Ears Pass.
Like I said, not such an easy stretch of miles, but the whole state has been
like that. It's certainly not an easy year.
Anyways, I know a number of the local townsfolk has expressed they miss
seeing the hikers this year and I am the first they have seen. (I know the
"boys" are up ahead still.)
Goog luck to all those heading thru. You'll be stoked on the wildflowers,
the abundant wildlife, and your getting one step closer to ample amounts of
snow free days!
Just think, that beer tastes real good after all the hard work!
*To find out more about Mary and her hike along the 3,000 mile long
Continental Divide Trail please go to*: www.marriedtothetrail.com
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