Wednesday 16 May 2012

Colorado Trail 2011 - Part 4, Creede to Silverton

I was lucky to get a ride back the 15 km from Creede to the CT. Resupply options are often a long way from the trail on this, and most, of the major US hikes. Hitching is the only realistic option and is generally very safe outside of cities.

The scenery on this section was superb. The best of the hike.

This section is also at the highest altitude with most of it over 4000m. The highest official point of the CT trail is 4045m near Coney Summit.

Once up it's a fairly flat hike. It's also very exposed to the afternoon storms. I started early and hiked as fast as possible.

The whole area is staggeringly beautiful.

By mid morning the storm clouds are forming. I picked up the pace and pressed on.

The clouds are now looking angry and the inevitable storm began. With no obvious natural cover all I could do was run the final mile along the ridge. Running with a pack at 4000m is not easy or recommended.

Off the ridge I felt much safer. This area has been heavily mined in the past and had many open shafts and a few surviving huts. Not quite up to Scottish bothy standard!

Looking down Elk Creek. The cliffs here are spectacular.

I had been feeling really tired all day which I put down to the altitude and my little run. Little did I know tomorrow would be my last day on the trail.

Not a bad spot for my final camp on the CT!

My final day on the CT. I still felt weak but thought a day off in Silverton would sort me out. This is the Durango to Silverton railroad that uses a narrow gauge steam train. If you have time I would recommend taking a day trip on this when you arrive in Durango. 

My last photo of the CT at Molas Pass. Road hiked into Silverton and booked into a lovely hotel before going out for food. Still feeling very weak I thought some food would revive me but before I had even finished my meal I was being violently sick followed by diarrhoea. Took myself back to the hotel and off to bed. The sickness continued throughout the night. Still feeling really sick in the morning I tried to find a doctor but Silverton doesn't have a full-time doctor and he wasn't in town for a few more days. The nearest doctor was 25 mi away and too ill to hitch I went back to bed. Spent another 3 days in bed feeling sorry for myself.

My view for 4 days! By how I knew the hike was over. I had a flight to catch out of Durango in 2 days and with 4 days hiking left it was just not possible to finish the CT. Devastated I took the steam train back to Durango and booked myself into a motel on the outskirts of town. Accommodation was scarce because a biker convention was on this weekend being a public holiday. Had a really bad night in Durango and was so ill in the morning that the owners wanted to call 911. After talking them out of that they drove me to the local hospital where I spent the morning being pumped full of fluids from the dehydration caused by the diarrhoea. The doctor suspected I had Giardia even though the test came back negative. I left feeling much better with 2 types of antibiotics, one for Giardia, and the second a general type. Next morning feeling so much better I made my flight. 

Make sure you have good medical insurance before hiking in the US, my few hours in hospital cost $3000!

Not finishing the hike was hard but I don't consider it a wasted trip. I learnt a lot about altitude and how it effects me, and got a taste of what to expect on my CDT hike. In those respects I achieved my original intentions.