Distance: 16.5 miles
start: 6:40 am
stop: 8:00 pm
Elevation: 11680 ft
Others Here: Cloudbuster
Camp: 1 mile south of Blue Lake; tenting
The day started off wonderfully. Blue skies, magnificent mountains, and a song in my heart. Just a great day to be hiking the continental divide. The snowshoes proved worth their weight in gold, and all throughout the day I commented on how thankful I was for them, and how happy I was we decided to carry them.
The snow came and went, so we were carrying therm at around 11 when we stopped for a break; still lighthearted. By 12, the skies started to darken and we could see lightning in the distance. This while at 12,000 feet with no where to go but forward since we were circumventing a bowl with very steep sides. By 1pm, we were surrounded by dark clouds and it started to rain. Around 1:30 we were moving as quickly as we could without snowshoes across boggy ground and occasional snow fields. The wind really picked up and brought some serious hail with it. So there we were at 12000 feet slogging through boggy ground and postholing across slushy snowfields all with the wind howling and with pea size hail pelting us from above. I had reached the shivering stage and eventually suggested to cloudbuster that we might want to find a dry place and set up our tents. He had already been thinking the same and was all for the idea. We stopped, had a snack for energy, added a layer for warmth, donned our snowshoes again and started across a large snowfield. Before long we found a little dry island of earth; though it was covered with hail. Nearly hypothermic at this point, we quickly set up tents, put on warm clothes and crawled into our sleeping bags. So you see in just a matter of hours we went from "Tra la la, look at me, I'm snowshoeing in the San Juans" to "please God, don't let me die out here. "
This was at around 2:30 and I was prepared to call it a day. We both napped and woke up to a warm sun and clear skies at around 5pm.
We decided to be responsible and hike a few more hours, so we broke camp and hiked to this place (another island in the snow). We gathered firewood and Cloudbuster made another small but wonderfully warming fire to warm our feet and spirits. Now it's time for bed.