Home » Into the San Juan Mountains, First snow on the CDT 6/15/14

Into the San Juan Mountains, First snow on the CDT 6/15/14

“Sooooo the San Juan Mountains… No joke! We left Chama with chatter of snow and ice. Naturally we didn’t believe it. 10 miles out we were believers. 30 miles in we were out of our minds. The San Juan’s got a late snow this year and is giving all hikers fits. Some have traveled to Wyoming to let the snow melt and some are skipping the San Juan’s all together. We are not sure yet. The plan is to head to Lake City but we have no intention of putting ourselves in danger. I cant believe that I have an ice axe and micro spikes on a hiking trip but it is exciting!
The mountains in the South San Juan’s are massive. I have never seen anything like it. I felt so small and powerless but it was an amazing feeling. It’s not something that I could ever wrap my head around until I was there. There were some super sketchy snow traverses that were about a hundred feet wide with about 30 feet between you and a 1500 foot drop off. I can honestly say I have never been that scared for my own well being in my life. We were humbled like never before. The snow is melting every day but that are calling for a big cold front and snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. The first goal is safety though. If something looks super dangerous we will find an alternate route. We all have a good head on our shoulders and have a huge respect for these mountains.

Our miles were cut down from high 20’s to the toughest 14 mile day in my hiking career. The snow changes throughout the day. In the morning it is crunchy and grippy. It’s cold but better hiking. The afternoons are slow and filled with slushy wet snow that you sink up to your waist. Each step takes the energy of 5 steps if not more.
I don’t mean to make this all sound so brutal but it is! The scenery is gorgeous and worth every step but there are also times where you just don’t have the energy to care. It’s the reality of a thru hike. I think I am ready for what’s to come but there’s only one way to find out. North we go!”

Sent from Spork’s iPhone

I talked to Spork on Thursday coming down from the San Juans into Pagosa Springs. There was a lot of explicatives used to describe the past few days. As he said, they hit a ton of snow just after Chama and stayed in it at 10,000 feet plus all of the way to Pagosa Springs.

They’ve spent the past two days in Pagosa to make some equipment changes and develop a plan. From the intelligence they have been able to gather they have decided to push on from Pagosa. They hiked out this morning. I forwarded some winter under-armour, ice axe, and new shoes to Pagosa. Spork also downsized his pack. His was just a little too big for the volume of equipment he has been carrying. He said the new pack lowered him to 25 lbs for all of his equipment and 8 days of food for the coming traverse of the next section of San Juans.

It is obvious the trail has changed radically. There are reports of Grizzlies on the trail heading intro Steamboat Springs. Spork said they picked up some bear rope so they can start hoisting their packs into the trees at night. He also mentioned the purchase of bear mace. Let’s just hope that remains an unnecessary safety measure.

Everyone is back in a group and the plan is to remain that way over the next 8 days. They have 8 days of food and gear and have set their sights on Lake City. They have also worked out a few alternate routes if the snow gets too heavy and they need to work around a few sections. There seems to be getting a lot better cell coverage. Based upon the altitudes they will be at it’s likely we will hear from him again his week. Most of this next week is 10-13,000 feet with snow.

I’ve attached a few pictures here but will be getting the full res versions this week on an SD card. I will put together a picture gallery with better pictures.

Chuck Iker

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One Response to “Into the San Juan Mountains, First snow on the CDT 6/15/14”

  1. Martha Schuckenbrock says:

    Spork, we so enjoyed your brief stay with us. Please keep in contact and we’ll be following your journey. The door is always open so make your way back to Lake City sooner than later!
    Martha and Bill

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