Thursday, August 20, 2015

Of Old Maps and Men...

and the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado. (Remember High Country in this Cannabis Friendly state can have a few meanings.) 

The other day when I topped out on Cottonwood Pass (12,161') with Barley, I was astride the Continental Divide. For those who don't understand the concept of the Great Water Split; here it is. If you spill an IPA brew on the sunrise side, it will flow toward the Arkansas River and even further downstream into the Gulf of Mexico. Waste a good beer on the sunset side, and it will percolate to the Colorado River. That liquid won't make it to its old delta, every drop is appropriated by three very thirsty lower basin southwestern states. 

Back to the story: I stopped long enough on the pass to appreciate the view. I noticed a trail leading south. Just as I was about to explore what it was all about, a thunderclap and a bolt of electricity chased me back inside my van. I checked an ancient map I had of the area and it showed no trails in the vicinity. Later, when I camped with my buddy and ex-forester Paul,  he told me what's it all about.

"People were putting in social trails adjacent to the actual Continental Divide. The routes got pretty banged down along the ridge line. The U.S. Forest Service finally decided to make it part of the official CDT. You can follow it forever." 
Well, maybe not forever but at least to Columbus, New Mexico. 

I chased three or four miles of the trail the next day. I shifted to and fro from one side of the Divide to the other. The views were all grand above tree-line spectacular. 

For once, rogue social trails turned out to be a good thing. See for yourself. That sage grouse was the only hiking companion I had that day. I enjoyed his company. 

Good night from Gunnison, Colorado.

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