Pine River Trailhead (Los Pinos River) to CDT to Ute Lake over to Rock Lake to Vallecito Trail to Chicago Basin 9-3-12 to 9-15-12
Dwayne Freeman trail name “Shannon-Lewis & Clark” Sister judy eidson
Temps 25 to 80’s, 75 to 80 miles total,pack weight 30lbs total!
My first long trip with no supplies for 2 weeks. Even when I did the Arizona t beat that! The journey begins!!
9-2 Stayed at Blue Spruce RV & Park, cabin # 8 twin beds $100 total. Nice dinner Pasta, bread & salad. Breakfast was omelet in a baggie.
9-3 Parked one car at Vallecito (don’t forget the keys) where we were planning on exiting. Drove jeep to Pine River Trailhead about 11 miles away, where we would start our hike. Warmer than I expected, my buff came in handy, had to wring it out a few times. Hiked about 9 miles in, what a great way to start the trip, no rush, was able to take pictures, study the plants & trees, check out the snakes ( 4 total) talk to twins in there 70’s that was fishing & backpacking-dressed alike) a family horseback riders that had the cutest 5yr old cowboy that the hat was as big as he was, & a pack horse with a dash hound balancing on the back, a kodak moment that I missed. The trail was easy today, a couple said they saw moose just past the 3 mile marker.
9-4 Hiked in lots of Aspen meadows, not changing yet, stayed at Granite Ranger Station. Lots of dead trees, beetle bug & mistletoe disease. Nice river below cabin, closed for season. Lots of wood cut, old Kentucky bottle of Bulleit Whiskey, above door hanging on a lucky horseshoe. Dwayne knew history of this from a VFW Magazine from Vietnam Vet that started his own distillery. A young buck came to visit, seemed almost tame. It’s bow season, watch out! Due to cold nights I sleep warm with the correct sleeping bag & night clothes we would trade every so often sleeping bags through this trip so Dwayne could get some sleep. Not to mention that I was sleeping in my tarptent the Moment. Dwayne had a homemade tarp made into to a tent, a bag that was good for about 45 degrees – theory was to wear all his clothes to bed. A big Agnes summer matt, it just wasn’t good enough for the cool & damp nights. He’s a Ray Jardine fan, so am I, but he needs to perfect it to his body type.
9-5 the 3 days have been moderate in the hike, which has been wonderful, hiking up to above 12000 feet. Stopped off at a waterfall to do some trout fishing, we did well off lures & power bait. Dwayne skinned the trout to boil later. We hiked a few miles when we found out that Dwayne’s boot sole was coming off, we stopped off at a great campsite, with a homemade king chair with the right amount of twine we needed to take with us, for future repairs. I had a tie wrap to mend the boot with duc tape, along the trip the boot would need to be continued to be repaired. We hiked for a few miles later, which we were glad we did as it was very steep & made the next day easier. Our camp was near a beaver pond, we saw female moose with a youngster. Colder due to camp in a low area & near water, condensation was a problem, my new Trails Design stove was not working as well as expected with wood, but esbits works well. 32 degree’s, top layer of ice in our water bag the next morning. It was good to have a cold breakfast & get going.
9-6 Past Avalanche Field over the CDT Divide a lung buster day, but the most beautiful scenery you will ever see! UteLake which was off trail about ¼ mile, fishing was biting off power bait. Again by water so colder night around 32 degrees but beautiful days! Grouse was in the area
9-7 beautiful scenery as we hiked higher in elevation, 12,300 meet up with Flat Foot a CDT hiker from Georgia around Twin Lakes he was representing www.sunshinefoundation.org it is like wish foundation, he is a Triple Diamond hiker with over 8,000 miles completed, his true name is Gene Butcher. We hiked on to a steep trail on the Rock Lake Trail, camped at Rock Lake an alpine lake. We believe this was winter kill for fish due to others I talked to in July. Two Llama’was near us on a hill with 2 other tents, also others were hiking over RockLake to the South looks like they were hiking towards Emerald Lake, very steep. Scary eyed creature that turned out to be deer, but at night all you could see was green eyes when flashlight shinned on it. Worried about Dwayne through the night as it was raining, cold but we did trade sleeping bags. I had all my clothes on including rain suit, & took a P.M. blue sleeping pill so was comfortable. Found out that he had to take off some of his clothes as my sleeping bag was a bit warm with all clothes on. Hum, I wasn’t that warm, ha!
9-8 By 11a it was 68 degree’s, easy hiking all down hill on Rock Creek Trail, towards Vallecito Trail. Vallecito Trail was also easy as it gradually went down in elevation, a few creek/downed tree crossing. Also grouse in the area & now starting to see hunters on horse back. Camp was near Johnson Creek, plenty places to camp in area. Shortly after dinner & having time to play a game of cards it started to rain. Washed all clothes so put them in tent, wow big condensation now.
9-9 Major error, I washed all clothes except what I was sleeping in, No clothes dried through the night, plus a cold night woke up putting on baggies on wet socks, which worked out wonderful like normal. I put one set of clothes on top of backpack to dry out as I hiked which did not take long to dry. Was glad to have my ultra light Dri Duck rain suit with me, as it blocked the wind, kept me warm, & of course was super against the rain. Snow Cat from Denver that was doing the Colo Trail started 8-15-12 was lost & beside her self to say the least! No gps or map of this location, I gave her a big hug, Dwayne said some kind words, got a map to show her what happened. She was going to beat feet to Vallecito “Blue Spruce RV Park” to try to hitch a ride to Durango then bus to Silverton to get her supply box to finish the last part of her hike to Durango. Felt for her agony! Since we dropped a lot in elevation we now had to gain in elevation, ugg! We reached 11,600’ it made a doable day as we did not need to hurry since Marietta-my sister n law, nephew-Michael Freeman, his fiancé Jamie, & friend Erica would not be there till afternoon on 9-11. I tried for 3 hrs at 3 different locations to get SPOT to send out a OK but could not get it to go thru. This was a concern that Glenda our over seer on the SPOT would not take action. This was a deer paradise, many we saw thru the evening. One more game of cards, I won! I slept in Dwayne’s tent tonight, I made it in a Ray Jardine’s tarp with 18” around, I slept warm, but also had my Mt Hardware sleeping bag rated 15 degree’s. My traptent was still coolish for Dwayne, but with a summer sleeping bag what do you expect.
9-10 38 degrees got a high of 50’s, but perfect hiking weather. Heading towards ColumbinePass very steep, aspens starting to change, went by a few mines before making our turn to Hazel Lake. I didn’t expect this rough of a trail to this lake, we reached 12, 830 before heading down to lake, was glad when we arrived. No trees, or bushes, in a big bowel but a very pretty lake, in fact there was two. Power bait was the winner again. Dwayne got an 18” brown & a 17” native cutthroat we think, very salmon color meat. I got 3 smaller ones from the smaller lake. Fun day, I made up a couple of hot water bottles for our sleeping bags, how nice!
9-11 Beautiful a.m. out of the blue a rain storm rolled in so hunkered down till it past on. Then another hr to fine brothers glasses, oh yea around his neck, made up for me loosing my pant leg a couple days prior. We knew we had plenty of time as the other gang would be hiking in from the Durango train. The trail up the steep terrain was easier than going down, so once we got to ColumbinePass was breath taking. Had a nice break, pictures, snack, too beautiful to hurry the moment! We chatted with a solo hiker that had a tarp & a bivy sack to sleep in. Told us about other adventures he had taken with llamas. We reached ChicagoBasin about 1p.m. Marietta & Erica arrived around 2p & Michael & Jamie around 4p. Once we got our site picked out it started to rain around 4:30p. Michael & Jamie were not as lucky to get set up before they were soaking wet, come to find out they set up in a bog. I guess they were ok as we offered to help them to move to higher ground. We set up Dwayne’s tent into a canopy so we could cook & stay dry underneath it, worked out well. Good thinking Dwayne, he then got to cuddle with his wife!
9-12 Rain continued to make a miserable a.m. but 4 of us set out as soon as it slowed up to go for a day hike to Twin Lakes. We made it 1 3/4 miles before it started to rain, thunder, hail, sleet, once we made it back to camp we made a nice hot drink once we got back & played cards- Pitch in the tepee tent till supper. I don’t think Michael or Jamie ever left there tent, or got warm!
9-13 25 degrees, everything was iced over! My hiking partner Michael for the next two days (we were to go out over Columbine Pass to Vallecito trailhead to get to my jeep) decided he had enough, he & Jamie were leaving by train to Durango today to get a nice dry, warm motel room & scout out the area. He had a 50 degree bag, summer matt, & not the right type of clothes. My brother by this time, had both soles of his boots duc taped, twined up, & with all the rain the heels were falling off. What is a girl to do, ok go with the flow, tomorrow will head out with the other 3, go to Silverton by train, eat a good meal, have a Durango Wheat Brew & enjoy!
9-14 Beautiful day, day hiked towards ColumbinePass to check out the mines. Met Chris a REI personal from Colo Springs, Bob & Earl hiking the 14,000 3 peaks. Erika & I had a great time checking out the mine, but Dwayne & Marietta never showed, found out Marietta fell so was soaking her leg in the creek, all was well in the long run. In the mean time was able to take pictures of doe & her twins, Mt Goat & her baby. We decided to hike about 3 ½ miles down the trail to make it easy for the next day out to Silverton that would leave at 11:30a then next day on the train. So leaving a 4p.m. worked out well.
9-15 Another beautiful day, left camp around 9:30a plenty of time to meet the train. Had to get tickets at Silverton, everyone was very helpful as 2 of us did not have tickets. All went as planned, great meal, cold beer, shopping. Now off to pick up my jeep, & drive over to South Fork to meet up with my husband, cousin Curley (Michael Gray) for a 4 wheel drive trip.
It was wonderful to have my brother there with me to hike, chat, laugh and oh yea clean the fish, luv ya Bro!
Thanks to Glenda Cope for being responsible for us on the SPOT. Nancy Vail for giving us the SPOT to use & everyone else keeping us in your prayers.