Spring Backpacking Fiasco

When it’s nice and hot where you live, and the snow is long gone, you don’t generally think that there’s still winter in the mountains, and snowy conditions may require winter gear. Two of us decided on an 18mi/4.5k elevation gain shuttle hike along Ben Tyler Trail off of I-285 to the Colorado Trail, which would spit us out at Kenosha Pass. It was supposed to be an easy little 1-nighter that almost turned into a comedy of errors. I dropped my friend off at the Ben Tyler start, and parked the car at the other end. The plan was we’d hike/run towards each other, meet about mid-way through and hike out towards the car the next day. 1) My friend hit two miles of knee to waist high slushy snow and was postholing 2 miles for 3 hours 2) Because the mountain range between us blocked the walkie-talkie signal, she had no way of letting me know that 3) She had all the camping gear.

Fun stuff, right? About three hours after we were supposed to meet, we both made it to the top of the pass and were able to communicate as the walkie-talkies kicked into life. She stopped at a trailmarker post and made a make-shift flag out of a bright hiking shirt tied to a trekking pole, mounted on top of the trailmarker post. It took me another forty minutes to get to where she was and by that time, both of us were exhausted, with thoroughly soaked feet. Fast forward two hours, and we’d pitched camp in a cozy little spot – rushing stream on one side, rock cliff wall on the other. Moutain House meals re-hydrated nearby while shoes, socks and bodies dried by the fire. We woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunny day and had a leisurely hike out along the comfortingly familiar Colorado Trail. I spent a few miles reminiscing about my last year’s adventures on the CT and thinking about the ones to come later this year.

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