SEPTEMBER 1, 2010
The first day of September was a memorable day! It started with a killer climb up to Devil’s Thumb Pass. My pack was unthinkably heavy since I was carrying about 3 liters of water because our maps showed no water for the next 30 miles or so. And, wouldn’t you know, as I slowly haul what feels like a dead elephant up the steep trail, we criss-crossed a thousand rushing creeks. Grr! Future CDT hikers take heed – there is water until almost the last hundred feet before Devil’s Thumb! Once we arrived on the ridge we were rewarded with mediocre views of Winter Park and that fierce wind that seems to characterize almost all of our Colorado ridge walks. It should be called “Devil’s Breath,” not “Devil’s Thumb.”
Thankfully RT scouted out the perfect sheltered spot for lunch, overlooking the intense aquamarine waters of King’s Lake. We also found some respite by walking a Forest Service road from Rollins Pass to Rogers Pass, but then it was back to fighting not to be blown off the mountain (maybe it was a good thing my pack was so heavy!) as we climbed up to James Peak. We arrived at the top of the 13,297 foot rocky peak around 5 pm, admired the view and then huddled in the relative shelter provided by a primive stone wall.
Another 20 miles or so of exposed ridge walking/scrambling awaited us (unless we hiked an additional 10 miles to below treeline) so finding a camp spot was not going to be easy. As we approached the ridge we were to follow to Mt Barcroft RT pointed out a little stone wall protecting a small smudge of flat dirt. “This could be the best camp spot we’ll find,” he reasoned…. It was true. Finding a flat and semi-sheltered spot to lay down for the night seemed unlikely, so we decided we were probably best off to improve the wall and bunker down at 13,000+ for the night. It was getting colder and windier, so Dan suggested we set up our Hubba Hubba tent and all 3 of us squeeze in.
Oh what a night! Between the wind whipping our tent like an abusive parent with a willow branch, to the fact we only fit when on our side (my hip bone felt like it had been gnawed at by the hard ground), to the fear of storms…. I barley slept at all… but at least I can say WE WEREN’T COLD!