Colorado Trail – Day 0, July 17, 2013
Eric, Troy, and I are settled in at our camp site at Junction Creek Trailhead. We arrived here around 2 pm this afternoon after a large grocery shopping trip in preparation for the massive amounts of calories that will be consumed in the coming days. With Troy’s gu’s, gels, crackers, and other snacks laid out on the table, I figured he was surely assessing food items for the coming days. Nope. That was all for tomorrow! He estimates he needs to consume 300 calories per hour and tomorrow is projected to be a 15 hour day, so 4500 calories in food have been stuffed into his Solomon hydration pack. Eric marveled at Troy’s pack but after his hour long packing process, a quick double blindfold test revealed that the packs are pretty close to equal in weight. It’s 7:30 pm now. Dinner is done, dishes are washed, packs are ready for tomorrow, tents are set up, and maps have been studied. A good portion of the afternoon was spent reviewing maps, guidebooks, and a Colorado Gazeteer to ascertain crew access points, elevation profiles, and water availability. Mike Ambrose and Jamie Solberg should be arriving before too long. They both had to work today and were driving down from Leadville. Mike, Eric, and Troy will be starting at 6 am tomorrow morning at the westernmost terminus of the Colorado Trail and traveling 53 or so miles to Bolam Pass. We’ll be depending on Jamie’s Toyota Tacoma to extract the boys from Bolam Pass tomorrow night. We’re grateful for Jamie’s help in the coming couple of days since many access points require a 4x4. Eric and I had quite the adventure yesterday in our trusty 2002 VW Eurovan. After scouting the night 2 overnight near Carson Pass, we attempted to travel over Cinnamon Pass to get to Silverton and then head on to Durango to meet up with Troy. A large ATV staging area should have been a clue we might be getting in over our heads. After 45 minutes of a valiant effort to summit the mountain, we were forced to turn back. We then had to drive an additional 3 hours around the mountain to get to Silverton, accompanied by some new jingles on the underbelly of the van. The upside of this outing was that we learned this would not be a good crew route on Day 3 and we enjoyed seeing mountain goats bounding along in their natural habitat.
Day 1, 53 miles,Junction Creek Trailhead to Bolam Pass, July 19, 2013
6:05 am - Eric, Mike, and Troy began their journey at the westernmost point on the Colorado Trail, Junction Creek Trailhead near Durango. Jamie Solberg and I were crewing but did not have access to see the guys all day. We were left to wonder how their first day on the CT was going. Jamie and I headed on to Bolam Pass to search out a campsite and wait for the runners to come in that night. After an hour long drive up Hermosa Peak Road, we came to a campsite, still 2 miles below Bolam Pass at 11,350 feet, the end point for the day. Jamie took her Tacoma on up the mountain while I set up camp. About 7:30 pm, Jamie arrived with Eric and Mike and then headed back up the mountain to retrieve Troy. Eric and Mike finished day 1 at 7 pm, with Troy finishing at 8 pm. Troy was suffering the ill effects of his first day at altitude with intense headache and nausea. Eric cleaned up, ate, some dinner, prepped his bag for the next day, and settled in. Everyone was in their tents by about 9:30 pm. So far, so good.
Day 2, 57 miles, Bolam Pass to Carson Saddle, July 20, 2013
4:00 am - Camp wakes up and begins preparations for Day 2 on the Colorado Trail. Jamie heads up the remaining 2 miles to Bolam Pass with the fellows about 4:45 am.
5:10 am - Eric, Mike, and Troy begin their day 2 trek.
9:40 am - Eric and Mike arrive at the parking lot near Little Molas Lake to a great surprise. David Horton, Allysa Wildeboar, her husband Travis, and friend George are all at the parking area waiting on the arrival of Eric, Troy, and Mike. Eric couldn't have been more surprised and happy to see Horton. After some nagging hamstring issues, Mike decided to call it a day and planned to join Jamie en route to the next crew access point 20 miles further down the trail. Horton recommended we could meet the Eric and Troy at Stony Pass, near Silverton. We thought that Jamie's Tacoma could make it.
10:10 am - Troy arrives at the Little Molas Lake aid station and is looking strong. He refuels and heads on his way.
4 pm - Crew members Stephanie Wissing and Guy Love arrive in Lake City and meet me at the library. We plan to head out to the Mill Creek Campground to find Jamie and Mike who will be retrieving Eric and Troy off the mountain at Carson Saddle.
4:45 pm - I receive a phone call from Mike telling me that he and Jamie are still in Silverton. They had made it to Stony Pass, but had to leave supplies for Eric and Troy and get back down the mountain due to the pouring rain and storms. They said Silverton was in floodlike conditions. At this point, Stephanie, Troy, and I have to figure out how we're going to get Eric and Troy off the mountain. We went to two jeep rental places and even asked someone at a campground if they would want to take us up the mountain. When those plans fell through, Guy and I decided we'd just have to hike the five miles up the mountain with Eric and Troy's overnight supplies, food, and water ourselves. Carson Saddle sits at 12,366 feet.
6:45 pm - Guy and I head out to begin our trek up the mountain to Carson Saddle. I know what Eric and Troy are doing is beyond belief and requires an extreme amount of endurance, but carrying that 30+ pound duffle bag 5 miles up the mountain was no easy task.
8:45 and 9 pm - Guy arrives and then I arrive at Carson Saddle. We're wet, cold, and it's nearly dark. We hurriedly set up the two tents we've brought and get sleeping bags ready. I stand for a long time searching in the dark for two headlamps coming our way, but eventually get in the tent to warm up.
9:45 pm - I hear Eric talking and am so grateful he and Troy have arrived. They couldn't have known to expect to see Guy and me at the saddle. Our plan was for Jamie to pick them up at the saddle and drive them back down the mountain, camp overnight at Mill Creek, and allow Troy some more time to acclimate. Regardless, they were grateful we were there and quickly got out of their wet clothes and into their sleeping bags. I got some hot food ready which they ate while lying in their bags. If you read Eric's blog regularly you know what a great writer he is. It will be interesting to read his account of yesterday's epic adventure, but for now, I can just tell you that Eric and Troy both used the word "epic" many times to describe their adventures yesterday. They suffered for four hours in the rain and cold without adequate clothing. Eric did appreciate his shell he got from Mt. Rogers Outfitters but could have used more clothing. After some time, Troy was cold and becoming incoherent. His self assessment was that he was nearly hypothermic. Eric said they had little choice but to carry on and make it to Carson Saddle. Carry on they did, but not without having suffered greatly. We're only 2 days in to this adventure. What will day 3 hold?