Thursday, July 31, 2008

CT Day 8: Jefferson Creek to Georgia Pass

Our first day on the Continental Divide proved to be quite nice, despite the lousy weather and dirt bikers tearing huge ruts in our beloved Colorado Trail. We got a slightly late start in the morning, and considering each of us wanted to pursue different things, we split up and agreed to rendezvous on the Divide near Georgia Pass.

I started off the fastest, because I wanted to climb the first large peak along the trail, Mt. Guyot. I set off on the fastest pace I could, and reached Georgia Pass at about 10:45 AM. Mt Guyot dominated the landscape from the trail, and I guessed at a route heading up the mountain's Southeast ridge. While only 13,370 feet, Mt. Guyot is still a mountain to be reckoned with. Steep talus covered slopes make for slow going and most of the mountain is very exposed. Got some great air! I was especially concerned about the storm clouds I saw brewing to the South West of me. With every step I took up the mountain, the cloud got darker, closer, and scarier.
One of the biggest danger's on Colorado's peaks is thunderstorms. Without trees to provide coverage, the risk of getting struck by lightning goes up tremendously. Moutaineers in Colorado are well advised to start their ascents at dawn (not 10:45). I climbed and scrambled up the steep ridge as fast as I could with my lungs screaming for air most of the way. And despite the great cardio workout, I knew in the back of my head I wouldn't outrun the storm. I imagine I reached the top around noon.
Once I reached the top, I didn't linger. The storm was coming my way and I should have gotten off the mountain 30 minutes ago. I snapped a bunch of pictures, shoved a granola bar in my mouth, and put on my rain gear. I put my camera back away, started down as fast as I could, and prayed for the best. It started raining, and then hailing, making the rocks slick with water. My descent now slowed to a snail's pace, I looked around at the wildly exposed ridge I was on. For any lighting that wished to strike, I stuck out like a sore thumb!
Somehow though, despite all the rain and the endless thunder and lightning behind me, I managed to make it back down to the pass, when the weather finally let up. I found Paul and Dave sometime later near a lake below a snowfield, fixing a fire to keep the mosquitoes at bay. It was only two in the afternoon, but none of us had the energy for anything more than naps and futzing around the campsite.
The sun came out later in the afternoon, giving us a great opportunity for pictures. Dave and Paul spent some time laughing about a certain topical skin care product.

CT Day 9: Rainstorm & Getting Split Up

The Colorado Trail Story

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