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Walking the Continental Divide Trail, South San Juan Wilderness

High, lonely, stormy, rugged and wild. That's Colorado's southern San Juan Mountain range. My friend Tom Brown and I spent five days walking north from Cumbres Pass, near the New Mexico border, exploring the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). We saw no one else for three days, not even another human track. But of everything wild there was plenty: we saw herds of elk every day and heard coyotes every night. Bald eagles cruised low over the tundra, hunting. There was lion sign, tacks and scat. A distant sighting of a bear and two cubs in a meadow below us. A litter of coyote pups tumbling and running outside their den. More marmots than could be counted....and who counts marmots anyway? Wild flowers spread out like a carpet, so thick and delicate it made me feel guilty for crushing them underfoot but there was no other place to walk. Amazingly enough, no cell service. Now that's remote!

The trail sometimes faded out into a thin tread through the tundra marked only by rock cairns and elk tracks and hovered at around 12,000 feet in elevation, plus or minus, up where huge snowfields still fed their melt and storms came and went. We dodged a few thunderstorms, spending most of the day one day moving from one scant stunted tree shelter to another while the thunder boomed and rolled all around and above us.

The Divide is a special place. A new love. I can't wait to go back. Here's a few pictures from the trip.

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