Sep 1, 2009 at 1:21 am #1238967
Can I get some time estimates for hiking the CDT in the Weminuche Wilderness, from the Wolf Creek trailhead to Stone Pass?
The Falcon Guide says it takes a MINIMUM of about 10 days, which seems a bit outrageous for only 85 miles. Even if it is at such a high elevation.
I'm not some mileage-obsessed adventure-racing gram weenie, but my base pack weight is well under 10 pounds, and I hike all day from dawn to dusk. I like to enjoy the scenery, and I'm not so fanatical that I eat lunch on the move, etc. I have made 25 miles a day in the past, literally without breaking a sweat, though that was in the Cascades on maintained trails at mostly lower elevations. (I can't say that I've ever really pushed myself for mileage.)Sep 1, 2009 at 10:49 am #1524242
I've hiked the CDT southbound and easily covered 25 mpd in that section. It's not crazy difficult, just high elevation. We were well acclimated at that point, and I'm from CO so altitude doesn't bother me much, but I imagine it could be hard if you were straight from sea level (even dangerous). 30s are possible if you are a dawn to dusk hiker, but if you want to take long breaks and whatnot, 15's are probably as slow as you would go.
The Weminuche is wonderful.
EDit: What time are you planning on doing this? I passed through in the middle of September and the wind was quite cold but we were ahead of the snow. Other thruhikers behind us (2-3 weeks) got snowed on, bottles froze, etc. If you are able to drop to treeline to camp (we ALWAYS camp in trees) you will be so much warmer.Sep 1, 2009 at 11:10 am #1524252
Well, I'm moving to Colorado Springs in a couple of weeks, and my wife has given me a 10-day hiking dispensation for next summer. (She shot down my plan for three weeks on the CT…) That's when I plan to do this, with a couple of friends. I'm not sure what I'll be doing in the meantime- I'm not familiar with the climate, so I'm not sure what I could reasonably plan.
It's nice to know that, even if I tone it down to 20 miles per day, it's only 5 days. Given 10 days, perhaps I can include the San Juan Wilderness as well…
Why did you do it southbound? I considered that because it would allow an exit down the West Fork of the San Juan, with a stop at the hot springs to wash the crud off at the end. It would also make pickup easier, since my wife isn't the greatest back-roads navigator. But hiking into the sun can be a bummer. Did you think it was ok?Sep 1, 2009 at 11:25 am #1524258
I thruhiked the CDT southbound as the snow in the San Juans was greater than the snow in Glacier. I didn't really think all too much about walking into the sun (but it probably helped a bit in the colder sections).
Since you have 10 days, and plenty of time to acclimate and whatnot since you'll be living in Colo Spgs (training on Pikes Peak will be great!), I would recommend hiking the CDT from Lake City (or Creede, both are opposite sides of the same pass–Spring Creek Pass?) to Chama as you will lose elevation hiking south. Or start at Wolf Creek Pass and hike north. I like Lake City a lot, but Creede has more of a mining vibe (it's at the base of a canyon and has saloons, etc). It's all paved roads for your wife to shuttle you guys and not complicated at all if she has an atlas.
Try to get Jonathan Ley's map CD (www.phlumpf.com)–it's free, but he's put so much work into it that a donation would be appreciated, and there are no better maps out there for the CDT. If you plan on deviating from the CDT, then I'd go another route.
edit: Sept is the best month to backpack in CO–usually pleasant temps, no bugs, no lightning, no people. I thruhiked the CT in September (the couple small snow storms all took place when I was in town, luckily) and the aspens' colors and solitude was great. Maybe you could hike the CT from Salida to Spring Creek Pass (going to Lake City or Creede) after you arrive in Colorado in a few weeks? That's a great section.Sep 1, 2009 at 11:52 am #1524268
As fate would have it, yes, I have Johnathan Ley's maps already. I happily donated, and then for another copy for one of my friends, too.
Silverton is a heck of a lot closer to Stone Pass than Lake City or Creede. That would leave out a huge chunk of the CDT in the Weminuche! But your point is made, that it would be much easier and shorter navigation for my wife that way. (5 hours instead of the 6.5 hours it would take to get to Silverton.) Perhaps I'm having an unhealthy obsession about doing the hike of all of the CDT in this segment. Well, I certainly have time to think it over, don't I?
From Creede I could go up Fern Creek to the divide, then turn south… Since I'd be abandoning the canonical CDT hike I could definitely hit the hot springs on my way through, and definitely still have time to keep trucking south through the San Juan Wilderness. Wolf Creek Pass and the nearby commercial campground are then a great bail-out option, or resupply point (if I can talk the better half into it). Then the pickup by my wife could be in Cumbres, also only a 4.5 hour drive from Colorado Springs.
This does, however, remove my bribery options: a spa stay in Ouray for the wife while we are in the area. :o)
Hmm… A lot to think about.
Thanks.Sep 1, 2009 at 2:42 pm #1524326
"Silverton is a heck of a lot closer to Stone Pass than Lake City or Creede. That would leave out a huge chunk of the CDT in the Weminuche!"
I don't know what you mean about leaving out a chunk of the CDT? If you were to have 10 days, then you could hike from Spring Creek Pass to Wolf Creek Pass along the CDT. I didn't mean to imply that you should take the Creed cut-off. I think it is around 5 days from Spring Creek Pass to Silverton, and then around 5 days from there to Wolf Creek Pass (rusty memory?). This extended section was my favorite of the entire CDT (the Wind Rivers was the best, but shorter).Sep 2, 2009 at 3:46 am #1524486
Didn't mean to be confusing…
What I meant was, that the CDT in the Weminuche runs from Wolf Creek Pass in the southeast all the way to Stone Pass in the northwest. If you start near Creede aren't you essentially starting at the halfway point along the portion of the CDT in the Weminuche?
An outstanding hike, mind you- but I had been obsessing about doing the canonical CDT hike. In retrospect, though, what's the point? What you have suggested seems much better, especially if I keep trucking south through the San Juan Wilderness.
I'll check my maps when I get home.Sep 6, 2009 at 3:24 am #1525392
I think I see what you are talking about. You just mean to find a trailhead from Creede as opposed to driving all the way around the Wilderness to Silverton.
From Creede, you can keep heading west on the forest service road and climb up almost to Stone Pass from the Rio Grande Reservoir.
I had thought that you were talking about actually starting to hike from Creede proper. That would put you way south/east on the Weminuche CDT segment.Sep 6, 2009 at 10:31 am #1525432
Yeah–Spring Creek Pass is between Creede and Lake City. From there, you hike the CDT for around 50 miles to the hitch into Silverton for resupply, and from there you hike the CDT to Wolf Creek Pass/Pagosa Spgs. This seems very doable for you with your wife shuttling you. You'll only miss a bit of pretty trail north and south of where you start and end.
Alternatively, you can also go up the dirt road from Creede (you can drive to within about 2 miles of the trail) to get to the CDT near San Luis Peak, then hike southbound over Snow Mesa for 16 miles to get to Spring Creek Pass.
edit: you could also just hike the above without resupply, to have a more wilderness feel to it, should you want to.
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