Days on the Divide
All through this previous summer season and early fall, I’ve spent pretty a bit of time hiking numerous miles along the Continental Divide in Grand County, CO. While I’ve had numerous memorable day hikes more than the previous five months, yesterday appears to stand out a bit additional than other folks.
I ran into a buddy even though at the skatepark the other day, and he brought up the concept to climb Mt. Neva, a prominent and jagged 12,821 foot peak that sits on the divide. At initially, I was a tiny hesitant mainly because I hadn’t been in a position to uncover any data on the hike or climbing route, but I was reassured when CJ showed me his maps and cautious organizing logistics.
Tough Miles Above the Trees
My husband drove us to the trailhead, and CJ and I set out for Mt Neva’s north ridge about 7:45 in the morning. We ended up getting to stroll about a mile and a half on the forest service road due to big potholes and the van’s low clearance.
We hiked up the Junco Lake Trailhead to the finish of Caribou Pass. I estimate the distance of these two trails to be about three.7 miles a single way. The Junco Lake Trailhead begins at 10,090 ft and gains 1,761 ft of elevation to the major of Caribou Pass which sits at 11,851 ft.
This hike was mellow and didn’t begin obtaining also step till above treeline. We saw a Enormous bull moose in the thinning pine grove about 11,000 ft. It was honestly a bit scary mainly because he was hanging out on the trail and we accidentally got a tiny also close mainly because he was difficult to spot in the trees. We created our distance and hid behind the pines as he ran in the path of the trial across the meadow. While Mr. Moose clearly wanted practically nothing to do with us, he kept peaking back to make certain we weren’t obtaining any closer to him.
CJ and I lastly gained the courage to very carefully cross the meadow and begin climbing up Caribou Pass. The trail fundamentally stops at the base of Mt. Neva and turns into boulder hopping and producing your personal spontaneous switchback turns up the hill till you get to the north ridge.
The north ridge is breathtaking and a bit scary to appear at. (Peep my fast YouTube video to see the route). While brief in distance, it took us about an hour to make it across the ridge and more than to Mt. Neva’s summit. This climb took cautious route obtaining and organizing. It involved a couple of exposed, class 3 down-climbs as properly as a lot of exposed class 3 and 4 ascents.
The crux was a class 4 wall that gained about 20 vertical feet in a incredibly brief, but exposed ascent. There have been sheer drop offs straight to the left and correct of this wall, but we have been fortunate to uncover strong hand and foot holds all the way up. Instantly at the major of the crux sat a rather frightening, but brief down-climb. This section employed my whole wingspan to permit myself to be safely lowered down onto the subsequent platform.
We have been fundamentally in the clear right after this section and created it to the summit with self-confidence and with out hesitation.
We have been feeling fantastic right after safely obtaining to the summit of Neva so we decided to transform our plans and add Mt. Jasper to our summit list. Adding this peak into our route integrated additional distance, but much less grueling miles, and permitted us to hike down a diverse trailhead at the finish of the day. Fortunately, we had complete cell reception and we have been in a position to relay the new choose-up place to my husband, Johnny.
From the major Mt. Neva we hiked south on the divide and more than to Mt. Jasper’s north ridge. This was a brief and effortless traverse and brought us to the summit at 12,923 feet. (I think Mt. Jasper got it is name from the J-shaped ridgeline that connects it to Mt. Neva.)
We have been shocked to meet two other hikers on Jasper’s summit. I had truly met the lady a couple of days just before, but didn’t make the connection till we have been heading down. Each hikers lived in the region, and I believed that it was cool to run into other valley folk up in the higher alpine wilderness.
The Devil’s Thumb
We met some additional higher alpine rock hopping from the summit of Mt. Jasper down and more than to the Devil’s Thumb. The Devil’s Thumb is a big rock formation along the divide that separates Grand County from Boulder County at 11,936 feet. It got it is name mainly because it appears like a hitchhikers thumb, but us locals have a sillier and additional inappropriate name for it.
From right here, we only had four miles to go, and we have been so dang delighted to lastly be back on a trail right after six hours of roughing it above treeline. We hiked the steep and rocky, but nicely tracked path down the final two,250 feet of elevation descent, and we have been so delighted to see Johnny waiting for us at the bottom.
We hiked about 15 miles in eight hours with I do not even know how a great deal elevation achieve and descent. My ankles have been sore and my hips have been tight from higher effect hiking all day, but it was all worth it.
I really feel humbled and achieved by our day in the back-nation, but I really feel a bit concerned about my potential to carry additional than a day pack and hike 15 miles day right after day. I know that I’ll have to get my “trail legs” on our AT thru-hike, but I hope to be in a position to push myself to hiking at least 12 miles a day in the starting.
Our hike was difficult adequate and all I carried was my meals, a complete Nalgene water bottle, my complete 2L CamelBak bladder, a climbing helmet, some TP, and added layers of clothing. I hope that I can deal with my backpacking weight mainly because correct now I do not have a great deal of my gear weight dialed in, and I do not want to kill my shoulders correct off the bat when we begin the AT.
I certain have a extended way to go, but I’m feeling very good about the path I’m headed.
Peace, appreciate, and delighted hiking
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