Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sponsor acknowledgement

Deana Guy, Tomball, TX $25. Terrific, thanks.

Ken Shirley, Kingwood, TX $50. Thank you very much.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Erin in the news

Click on link and read the 2 paragraphs about two thirds of the way through the article.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

James Peak

JAMES PEAK, JAMES PEAK WILDERNESS July 29, 2007. Erin and the team continued north through the James Peak Wilderness summitting James Peak (ele 13294 ft). there she saw a lone coyote 100 ft below the summit. She rode through stands of Limber and Bristlecone Pine. The bristlecone pines can reach an age far greater than that of any other single living organism known, almost5,000 years. They continued north along the CDT through Devil's Thumb Pass and riding the border of Indian Peaks Wilderness. They had another very bad weather day with hard rain and lightening. Spent a lot of time hunkered down below the tree line to avoid exposure. Yoakum started acting up; he refused for over an hour to ford a silly little stream. Later he "rubbed" Erin off on a tree. Erin tied him to that tree and walked away with Kershaw camping out of sight; no grain and no social exposure for that bad boy overnight.

The next day she entered the Arapaho National Recreation Area. There she met up with her college buddies, Andrea ("The Senator") and Nick. They spent some time in Grand Lake. There Erin encountered an inebriated cowboy who offered to buy her a drink. He asked, "So, you from around here?" Erin replied, "No, just riding through". He slurred, "ridin what?". The answer, "a mule." "Where you coming from?" Answer, "Mexico." He exclaimed, "Holy sh@#t!" and walked away shaking his head very confused.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Berthoud Pass

BERTHOUD PASS, ARAPAHO-ROOSEVELT NATIONAL FOREST. July 27, 2007. The crew rejoined the desiginated trail at Jones Pass (ele 12451) and following the divide and passed along and within the border of Vasquez Peak Wilderness. They experienced a very bad thunderstorm on Stanley Mountain. She had to descend rapidly below the tree line to wait it out. Erin was very suprised by the storm; Erin didn't see it coming since she was riding through fog (clouds) when the storm developed in the very clouds she was riding through.

The next day the trail crossed Colorado Highway 40 at Berthoud Pass; this photo was taken by hiker, Katelin Yates whom met Erin met along the trail. At the pass, there is a highway pullout and scenic overlook. As Erin descended the high and very steep switchbacks a crowd of tourists developed to watch the approaching mountain man riding and leading a mule, only to discover as they neared that it was a woman, and a young woman at that. The amazed crowd gathered around for conversation and pictures with the kids. Tom of Pennsylvania who was out scouting for fall hunting sights took her into Grand Lake to pick up her cache at the post office. He took her to lunch and dinner, and then dropped her off back at the pass. Erin rode 8 more miles and camped at Bill Moore Lake.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness

Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness. July 25, 2007. Today Erin emerged from the Eagles Nest Wilderness to meet with a family friend, Carolyn K, in Silverthorne. Carolyn, who is a producer, provided her with a video camera to record some of her travels and travails with the hope that she might be able to make a documentary of Erin's trip. Carolyn also fed her well and reported back to Mom that Erin and crew were whole and doing great.

After their meeting, she headed into the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness, through Ptarmigan Pass (elev 11,777) to the South Fork of Williams Fork. Erin would like me to report that Wendy's will serve you on a mule in the drive through, while McDonalds (Cuba, NM) refused her drive through service.

Eagles Nest Wilderness

EAGLES NEST WILDERNESS. July 24, 2007. Erin travelled through the Eagles Nest Wilderness along the Gore Trail. She went through Copper Mountain Ski Resort and made a stop at the local Starbucks. She was sipping a frappacino as she and the boys crossed over I70. She also passed though Mt. Hale where the 10th Mountain Division trained. Soldiers were training and Yoakum was spooked by their helmets lying in the middle of the trail and the camo netting they were hanging.

Erin saw a Western Tanager and after hearing their squeaks for weeks, she finally spotted a pica.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mount Elbert

MOUNT ELBERT, HIGHEST POINT IN COLORADO. July 23, 2007. Erin rode along the eastern edge of Mount Elbert (ele 14433) , passed through Mount Massive Wilderness (ele 14421), and then through a corner of the Holy Cross Wilderness (the 11th and 12 th Wilderness Areas of the trip). They walked over the shallow headwaters of the Arkansas River before crossing over to the western side of The Divide and entering the White River National Forest. They set up camp close to where highway 24 goes through Tennessee Pass which is about 20 miles south of Vail. Rode 36 miles.

Another Sponsor

Brian and Kate Buck, Austin, TX $100. Erin says thank you very much.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Twin Lakes, Colorado

TWIN LAKES, COLORADO. July 22, 2007. Erin rode from Lake Ann to Twin Lakes. She emerged from the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, went over Hope Pass (straight up and staight down) just to the east of Mt Hope (ele 13933) and rode into the little town of Twin Lakes. There she stopped at a local lodge and asked for food to go. They ended up inviting her to stay and "oh, sure put the mules out back." So she got a real room, with a real shower and real hot water.

LaDeux update. The wonder dog was sent home a few weeks ago. There was never a loss of will but the feet gave out. Paw pad toughner and doggy shoes were not enough. When he is not reading this blog he lays by the door dreaming of the mountains and waiting for Erin to come for him.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Collegiate Peaks Wilderness

LAKE ANN, COLLEGIATE PEAKS WILDERNESS, PIKE-SAN ISABEL NATIONAL FOREST, COLORADO. July 21, 2007. From Monarch Pass Erin travelled generally north along the CDT paralleling the divide eventually passing from east to west through Tincup Pass (elevation 12154). Along the way there was a torrential hail storm and a scary lightening storm. She spent a lot of time hunkered down off the ridges. She spent 2 nights near the junction of the CDT and Cottonwood Pass road. There she found the prearranged grain delivery "up the hill, behind the big log, wrapped in a blue tarp." (Thank you Martin Feed). Later she caught a ride into Buena Vista where she did her laundry, did some shopping and caught up with friends and family via cell phone. The next day she entered the spectacularly rugged Collegiate Peaks Wilderness again crossing the divide and camping near Lake Ann to the Southwest of Huron Peak (14003 ft) and on the slopes of The Three Apostles (see photo). The unnamed pass over the divide to Lake Ann seemed higher than the surrounding ridges; was very rough with much talus (a sloping mass of rock debris at the base of a cliff) and 2 foot steps on the switchbacks. Despite not being recommended for stock "The Boys" handled it with minimal difficulty. Each day brings more beautiful and wondrous sights. "It just can't get any more beautiful than this."

The Collegiate Peaks Wilderness may possess the highest average elevation of any wilderness area in the contiguous 48 states. Eight peaks exceeding 14,000 feet are found here, including the state's third and fifth highest summits, Mount Harvard and La Plata Peak. In addition, another half-dozen peaks soar over 13,800 feet. More than 40 miles of the Continental Divide follow the crest of the Sawatch Range in what is arguably the pinnacle of the North American continent, for the divide never reaches a higher point between the Isthmus of Panama and the Arctic Circle than it does in the Sawatch Range. http://www.coloradowilderness.com/wildpages/collegiate.html

Friday, July 20, 2007

Still More Sponsors

Tom Lyon, New Era, MI - $30. Thank you.

Michelle Newlin, Houston, TX $50. Terrific and thanks

Renee and Howard Norris, Spring, TX $50. Thanks.

Barbara Bergin, Austin, TX - $100. Thank you so much.

Jones & Zwiener, Houston, TX - $250. Thanks Uncle Bill.

This goes a long way to defray the costs of this trip. Erin appreciates your help and your interest. http://ridethegreatdivide.com/page5.html

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Monarch Pass

NORTH OF MONARCH PASS, PIKE-SAN ISABEL NATIONAL FOREST. July 18, 2007. Big day yesterday, Erin and the boys rode 36 miles crossing over Monarch Pass (ele 11312) at Highway 50. Challenges included trying to figure how to get a grain delivery in the next few days. Lots of Marmots on the trail. Talked to a few mountain bikers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

And More Sponsors

Gila Rangers - Cowboy Action Club, Silver City, NM $25

Jim L. Jones, Silver City, NM $25

Frank and Linda Ferrara, Silver City, NM $50

Not only did they rescue LeDoux the wonder dog but now they have become sponsors. Thank you. Erin very much appreciates it.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Moose in the beaver pond

GRAND MESA-UNCOMPAHGRE-GUNNISON NATIONAL FOREST. July 16, 2007. Erin and the gang have travelled 40 miles in the last 2 days. They departed Spring Creek Pass and road the combination Continental Divide and Colorado Trail due east to the foot of San Luis Peak (elevation 14014) in the La Garita Wilderness (her 9th Wilderness area). The next day she bisected the La Garita travelling south to north. The real excitement came along Cochetopa Creek when the mules signalled alarm as they approached a beaver pond. There munching on willows was a young bull moose. Erin pulled up to watch and take pictures. The moose became inpatient and took a few steps in there direction which convinced Erin it was time to go. The mules apparently agreed. A mile or so later another moose was encountered along the trail walking through a stand of Aspen. All in all 3 moose were seen today. She camped along Los Creek which is just to the north of Texas Creek and only about 4 miles south of the junction of highway 114 and The Divide. She saw 27 people today, all backpackers. Enjoyed conversation and compared notes with most. Many of these hikers are on a quest to complete the 400 mile Colorado Trail which for the time being follows the Continental Divide Trail.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Spring Creek Pass

-SPRING CREEK PASS. July 14, 2007. On Friday Erin rode through the day and into the night to arrive at the Spring Creek Pass Campground at the junction of the Continental Divide and State Highway 149. The mules were secured tight on a high line. The next morning she was picked up by the family of Philip, Carolyn and Dasha. They provided a place to shower, to do laundry and the "Best Hamburger in all of Lake City". There is nothing like washing away the smell of wet mule accumulated over a week. She picked up her pre-mailed cache of supplies at the post office, her pre-delivered cache of grain at the Sheriff's office, and went shopping. The hero family dropped her off Saturday afternoon to prepare for setting off through the La Garita Wilderness. The weather is supposed to be better.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Headwaters Rio Grande River

HEADWATERS RIO GRANDE RIVER. July 13, 2007. Erin has had 2 pretty tough days. Thunderstorms intermittently. Another mule mutiny - dang mules walked off when given a little freedom to graze prior to loading up yesteday morning. Then a big thunderstorm with lightening causing Erin to seek shelter. When it was over, no @#$% mules in sight. Tracked them back up towards the divide, then another storm and Erin had to descend again to the tent and shelter. The next morning they came wandering innocently back asking for grain.

Because of ongoing storms and very muddy and dangerous trail Erin chose to descend Squaw Creek trail eventually walking the team over the headwaters of the Rio Grande River, leaving the wilderness and camping north of Rio Grande Reservoir on Rio Grande National Forest land. Tomorrow she plans to reascend to the divide and resume the CDT trail.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Squaw Pass

SQUAW PASS, CDT TRAIL, WEMINUCHE WILDERNESS. July 10, 2007. Erin and the crew rode 21 miles today much of it directly on the continental divide. In some areas the trail passes down the middle of wide floating runways. In other places it becomes very narrow such that during a rain storm Erin contemplated that the drops rolling down her left leg were headed for the Pacific and those rolling down the right were headed for the Atlantic Ocean. DEEP. They passed safely through the infamous 'Knifes Edge' where Weminuche lore notes that a string of horses fell to their deaths a few years back. Erin looked over the edge and saw no skeletal remains. There was snow here - so as not to take any chances she pulled out her trusty shovel and spent 45 minutes digging a trench down the middle of the narrow trail before passing safely through the knife. Later, on a wide and flat section Yoakum caught a back leg in boggy ground and went down backwards and sideways throwing Erin to the ground. The saddle iron provided a bruise but no serious damage done to mule or rider. Most of the ride was above tree line. At dusk they descended down to the tree line and camped along Squaw Creek below Chief Mountain (ele 13014). While unpacking Erin was pulling hard on a pack rope, her hand slipped and she ended up socking herself in the face.

The scenery is amazingly beautiful, the weather given the location so far relatively mild.

More Sponsors!

Susan Peters of Monument, CO $30! Thanks

Anonymous Mangas Mountain Rancher, NM $200! Wow and Thanks

For sponsoring info click http://ridethegreatdivide.com/page5.html

Monday, July 9, 2007

Headwaters of the San Juan River

ONE MILE EAST OF PIEDRA PASS, HEADWATERS W FORK SAN JUAN RIVER, WEMINUCHE WILDERNESS. July 9, 2007. Erin travelled 28 miles today with the CDT closely approximating the continental divide. "It is so beautiful it hurts". No matter which way she looks the Rockies are in full splender - snow capped peaks, green flowered meadows, and the beginnings of clear flowing springs. The trail is generally clear of snow, although it did snow/sleet briefly early in the day. She passed the beginnings of dozens of streams; those on the right or north side of the trail flow to the Rio Grande and those on the left or south side flow to the San Juan. That night she camped in close proximity to what is designated as the headwaters of the West Fork of the San Juan River - just a stream formed by snow melt. Her camp elevation was 12,300 feet. There are Colorado Columbines in abundance. She saw a Ptarmigan today as well as several herds of Elk grazing the high pastures. Given the popularity of this segment she actually saw 16 other humans/backpackers (like the mall on Saturday) including one couple (Carol and ?) who are through-hikers having started at the same place Erin did (Columbus, New Mexico).

Weminuche Wilderness

WEMINUCHE WILDERNESS, COLORADO. July 9, 2007. Erin is back on the trail after a reprovisioning and rest stop at the Wolf Creek Ranch near Wolf Creek Pass. Yoakum (the riding mule) was reshod and Kershaw (the 15 year old pack mule) got shoes for the first time in his life. While there Erin was put to work helping to set up for a local wedding. She braided the manes and tails of the carriage horses and did other odd jobs. She was provided with a moose-leather shirt to wear to make her presentable to the guests. For several days she was the guest of Liz and her husband "Goat". Very wonderful people who were very helpful.

Erin is in the Weminuche Wilderness Colorado's largest at more than half a million acres. The Continental Divide Trail runs through the heart of the area for approximately 80 miles. Initially the trail and Divide bear due west, eventually making a great arch before heading back due east to "get around" the headwaters of the Rio Grande River. This is a very popular part of the CDT. Erin will see occassional hikers along the way.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Wolf Creek Ranch

WOLF CREEK RANCH, COLORADO. July 3, 2007. For the last few days Erin has enjoyed some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The CDT and the continental divide are in close proximity; the trail passed by Blue Lake (ele 11463) and Lake Ann (ele 11920 ft) and around peaks such as Summit Peak (13300 ft) and Montezuma Peak (ele 13150 ft). There were multiple passes including Gunsight Pass, Elwood Pass, Bonito Pass, Silver Pass, and Railroad Pass. The trail criss-crossed the divide alternating between the eastern and western drainages. She emerged from the the Wilderness and crossed over Highway 160 at Wolf Creek Pass. Erin is the quest of "Goat" and Liz at Wolf Creek Ranch. There she found very kind and like-minded people, a warm shower, a laundry, and a clean bed. She will take time to rest and reshod the animals, reprovision and plan for the next segment.
Liz and Goat (see photo) have offered to help other CDT through-hikers/riders. They are "happy to give a hand to anyone that might be doing the trail." The website is wolfcreekranchco.com and their email - wcrtrailrides@hotmail.com.
Erin has ridden 700 miles, has passed through 7 wilderness areas (Aldo Leopold, Gila, Cebolla, San Pedro Parks, Chama Canyon River, Cruces Basin and South San Juan) and 7 national forests (Gila, Apache, Cibola, Santa Fe, Carson, Rio Grande and San Juan).

Sunday, July 1, 2007

South San Juan Wilderness

SOUTH SAN JUAN WILDERNESS, COLORADO. July 1, 2007. "The beauty is breathtaking." Erin rode over a ridge to see Blue Lake with the sun shining perfectly so as to create a perfect reflection of the snow capped peaks beyond the lake. She saw 2 bull elk (a 5 and a 6 pointer), lots of marmots, Forget me nots, and a horned lark. She is on the official CDT trail with occassional reassuring markers. Traveled 23 miles today. Was slowed down some by snow banks covering the trail. Actually got snow in her boots and she was riding Yoakum. The soggy patches where the snow has melted are also difficult for the animals. She is expecting it to freeze tonight. Elevations are in excess of 10,000 ft.
Many call the South San Juan Wilderness Colorado's wildest corner. The landscape of volcanic peaks and cliffs poses a formidable barrier to travel. Of all the places in Colorado likely to still harbor North America's most fearsome creature, the rugged and remote southern San Juan Mountains seem best suited. A great bear was killed here in 1979, the last known Colorado grizzly.