The planning started almost a year in advance

The seed was planted even earlier than that. It all started on a Patioboys trip when newest member Jim (aka Guru) said that he would like to hike part of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in Colorado again and asked if anyone was interested in joining him. A few questions were asked, but there appeared to be no takers as this would be a pretty ambitious trip - for the average Patio Boy that is. As a reminder, the Patio Boys are the weekend warriors of backpacking, with the typical trip being over a long weekend and of late consisting of an under five mile hike in. That's not to suggest that we don't on occasion bite off more than we can chew - The Pine Mountain Trail trip being a prime example.

Jim suggested 8-day and 15-day options. He described the CDT as "one of the most difficult, but most rewarding trips you could ever do." The lack of interest was due to two factors – the length of time and the fact that most of the Boys had already done a high adventure trip to Glacier about 3 years prior. I missed that trip for various reasons and lamented not being able to go. I was also unable to go on a trip to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 2011. I still wanted to test my mettle on a high adventure trip, so I mulled this over for a while before finally contacting Jim in August of 2012. After discussing some basics about timing and length of the trip, I agreed to go. I extended an invitation to my friend Barney, whom I've known for many years of Scouting with our sons. He signed on almost immediately. I intended to open the invitation to the rest of the Patioboys once the three of us had worked out the basic details.

The next step was to meet in person. By September Jim was now living in Lexington, KY, so the three of us met at City Barbecue in Florence - about an hour's drive for Jim and about 25 minutes from Ft. Thomas for me – and the perfect combination of Barbeque and brew to make some serious plans! We laid out the maps and discussed some options and pretty quickly settled on starting the CDT at Wolf Creek Pass near Pagosa Springs, CO, and exiting via the Elk Creek section of the Colorado Trail to Molass Pass on Route 550. This section of trail is almost entirely in the Weminuche Wilderness area in the San Juan Mountains of south west Colorado. This would be about 90 miles of backpacking, and Jim said it could be done in 8 to 9 days, maybe less if we averaged 12 to 15 miles per day. I had serious doubts I could do more than 12 miles a day based on some previous experience in the Smokies, but was willing to give it a try as long as we built in some buffer days in case we ran over. We settled on a time frame of late June to early July of 2013 to avoid most of the snow and to finish before 'Monsoon Season'. On the fall Patio Boys' trip an invitation was extended, but the few who had an interest could not work it into their schedules.

In February Barney and I made our travel plans. We opted to leave after work on June 25th and return on July 6th which would give us a 10-day window that included a buffer day in case we ran over. That meant we would arrive late in the day on June 25th and have to hit the trail by midday on the 26th. My biggest concern was not being able to acclimate to the elevation. We would be starting at about 10,500 ft. and going upwards of 12,500 ft. I had experienced altitude sickness once on a trip to Pike's Peak during a family vacation and did not want to go through that again. But we just did not have the time to spend extra days adjusting to the change from our normal 800 foot elevation to the 10,000 plus elevations.
Since Jim has a cabin north of Durango, we would stay there the first night. The plan was for him to leave his motorcycle at the exit trailhead and we would take his SUV to the starting point. After the trip, he would bike to the start, haul his bike back on a trailer, and pick us up. We had a workable plan that we were all comfortable with. From here on out all we had to do was work on conditioning and get any new gear we needed.

On Memorial Day weekend, we did a warm up trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. It was a perfect weekend, it is a beautiful place to hike, and is practically in our back yards. The goal was to test out our gear and our legs. We actually cheated a bit – we car camped at Kumer Ridge campground and then day hiked two days with full backpacks. Although not at the elevations we knew we would be seeing on the CDT, we did get some changes of 400 to 500 feet. At this point, we were all set for the actual trip. Or so we thought.

Jim arrived at the cabin in early June. On June 5th or so two forest fires, sparked by lightning, started in the area of Wolf Creek Pass. We kept a constant eye on the news for updates. Unfortunately, the fires got progressively worse. One of the fires jumped over the divide and a third fire started further north, eventually closing the road at Wolf Creek Pass, the first 25 miles of our planned route on the CDT, and much of the wilderness area. Then, less than two weeks out, Jim sustained a serious knee injury while doing a prep hike and would not be able to go on the trek. We began to wonder if the trip was jinxed!

We already had plane tickets in hand and vacation time scheduled so there was no thought of postponing. Barney and I met the Saturday before we left and went over the trail maps, Forest Service closure bulletins, and consulted with Jim on alternate trails. We decided on starting our trek on the Pine River Trail near the Vallecito Reservoir. This was a 24 mile trail starting at 8,000 feet that would connect to the CDT at Weminuche Pass at 10,500 ft. We would just have to keep an eye on the status of the fires before we hit the trail.

Our travel was uneventful – which is good. We did have a 5 hour layover in Denver since the original flights had changed after we booked them. We decided to walk the Denver United Concourse trail, a new, unofficial trail that we blazed from one end of the terminal to the other with a few stops to investigate trailside shops, food vendors, and of course refreshment stands offering some local ales! Our flight to Durango took off on time. Jim met us upon arrival and we made it back to the cabin sometime after 12:30 AM. Barney woke me in the morning. I had set the alarm on my new $20 Walmart watch, but it turns out I don't hear it because the tone is the exact frequency of the ringing in my ears I have from tinnitus.

Since the alternate trek would now be about 64 miles, we knew it would be at least a day and a half shorter. So we decided to car-camp the first night at the trail head. That way we would also get to spend some time with Jim, acclimate to the elevation a bit longer, and enjoy some fine Kentucky spirits together! We spent the morning making some last minute adjustments (lightening our load) and repacking our gear. We also enjoyed the early afternoon walking around Durango, visiting the train museum, and had lunch at the Diamond Belle saloon in the historic Strater Hotel. Recommended! One new concept (to us old farts) we discovered as we walked about town was a 'Drink and Paint' establishment. Perhaps consuming adult beverages could unleash the creative side. Although we took a pass on this, we believe we would have not been half bad at it. I'm sure you can guess which half.

The PMT trailhead campsite consists of just 6 tent sites. There are no facilities to speak of, just a vault toilet and a parking area for horse trailers, as this is primarily a staging area for horse and backpacking trips. It adjoins a private ranch so there is no access to the river. Thankfully there is a small stream near the campsite and we are able to tank up on water, which we had forgotten to stop for along the way. The stars were just stunning that night! We even see some of the Milky Way, although our view is somewhat limited because we are in a steep valley surrounded by large spruce trees.

The Hike Begins! Day 1

We wake up to a beautiful, sunny morning. Unfortunately, I had tried setting the alarm on my watch to what I think is a different alarm tone. Instead, it turns out to be the hourly chime, which of course only Barney could hear. I may be sleeping under the stars for the rest of the trip.

We have breakfast with Jim and break camp. 2013 CDT 006We start at about 8:30 and have a 3 mile walk in a mostly spruce forest along the border of the private ranch before we get to the Weminuche Wilderness boundary. At a short break, we are passed by three US Forest Service summer intern rangers. Our two groups leapfrog each other for the rest of the day. The trail is quite stunning. We go in and out of spruce and aspen forests and from time to time it opens to beautiful alpine meadows filled with wildflowers. The last hour of our hike just about does us in as we gain the final 500 ft. in elevation to reach the junction with the Flint Creek Trail which is about 11 miles in and at an elevation of 9,200 ft. Not bad for the first day. We setup camp with the ranger crew. They are young teens– two are college age and one is in High School! They are all three impressive young men. It renews our confidence in the next generation. They had already finished dinner and had their camp setup by the time we arrived at 5:30. We get our camp setup and go about the rest of the nightly 'chores' including getting and treating water with a Steripen, eating dinner, bear bagging our food between trees, washing up, etc. We find this takes us about two hours each night. Throughout the remainder of the trip we are in the tent most nights at about dusk and set our alarm for 5:30 AM each day. Last night will be the last time we really see the stars, not because they are not out, but because we hit the sack so early.
Overnight, smoke has blown our direction from the forest fires and has filled the river valley with a thick haze. There is soot on the tent and on everything we left out overnight. We pack up after our morning ritual of coffee and granola or breakfast bars. We bade farewell to the USFS crew at 8 AM as they are performing their camp survey. 2013 CDT 028We found out last night that their job is to assess the human impact on the wilderness by surveying the condition of all of the campsites they encounter. We will continue along the PRT and they will head up the Flint Creek Trail.

Day 2

One observation we quickly make as we make our way up this river valley is that most of the mature spruce trees are either dead or dying. This is due to damage by the spruce bark beetle and this is why the fires are so bad this year. The recent annual droughts had weakened the trees and made them less able to resist the beetle infestation. We have no doubt that sometime in the future large areas of this wilderness will burn much like the Wolf Creek area has done this year. Yesterday,In the distance, we had seen vast areas of aspens that also appeared dead. Today we arrive in those areas and find that they are not dead, but that all of the leaves have been eaten by caterpillars. There are millions of them everywhere. Their instinct is to crawl up anything that does not move. We watch them for a time as they crawl up the branch of a fallen tree and drop off like lemmings at a cliff.

The hike today is more open as we follow the river through mostly alpine meadow. We see all kinds of wildflowers including some wild Iris which are smaller than the ones in my garden, and plenty of Columbine, the state flower. Occasionally we cross back into forests and see areas where the beavers have been busy and we pass a few beaver ponds. We don't see any 'big game' at all. We continue to joke about the chipmunks being the 'big game.' 2013 CDT 041
We stopped at a beautiful waterfall after lunch and found a spot to refill our water supplyAs we do so, a storm blows in and we have to hole up for 45 minutes until it passes as there is much lightning on the ridges on both sides of us. At some point before the storm, it had gotten windy and a dead tree fell not more than 40 feet from us and the debris hit the trail. About 10 paces past it, Barney stepped on a branch which let out a loud crack and I just about jumped out of my skin. I'm still not convinced it was accidental.

We end our day at the junction with the Rincon La Osa Trail at about 10,300 ft. and about 2 miles short the CDT. We head up that side trail a couple hundred yards and find a beautiful campsite on a small plateau overlooking a vast meadow. We just want to build a cabin here and stay forever. While coming back from washing up, Barney comes face to face with a porcupine but has to chase after it to get a photo. The wildlife sightings are increasing the further up the trail we go. Hummingbirds are even attracted by the bright colors of our clothing and packs.

Day 3

The smoke drifts in for a second night. On the morning of day three we have a small group of mule deer visit us while we are having our breakfast. We are obviously intruding on their morning ritual. They are very curious and almost come to within petting distance. I'd swear they were imported from Ft. Thomas.
After an hour of hiking, we reach the CDT at 8:30. We see a couple of Marmots and snap some pictures. We have a kick-ass climb up to the Window and Rio Grande Pyramid, features we have been seeing for quite some time from the distance. At one point, we climb straight up along the edge of a long rock slide of huge boulders. There is no room for switch backs here so the climb is steep and long. We just go a few hundred steps and stop to gasp in some extra breaths to get oxygen back into our lungs and muscles. When we get to within a few hundred feet of the top, we have 'lunch' while we wait out a passing storm. Our lunches are usually O' bars (oatmeal bars), with or without a spread of peanut butter, mini Slim Jims, almonds, or some other trail snacks. 2013 CDT 079
We reach our destination next to a small lake below the Window, at about 12,400 ft., at exactly 1:44 and have just two minutes to setup the tent and dive in before all hail breaks loose at 1:46. It rained and hailed for about 30 minutes and then we had a break for 15 minutes before it starts again and lasts an hour. We heard coyotes but did not see them. At 7:30 another storm blows in and hails on us for the third time today. It also brings in some smoke from the fires and we can clearly see the smoke plumes in the distance.

We got a little carried away with pictures of the Window. We take more in the morning and throughout the next day as we hike away from it on the other side. I swear, we each took about 50 pictures of it during the trip. If you were to look at all of the photos from the trip, you'd think we spent a week here.

Day 4

On day four, we are on the trail by 7:10. We are getting better at our morning routine. We reach our first snow bank and snap pics of us crossing it. There's not nearly as much snow as some of the available trail reports had led us to expect. We hike on, or cross over the divide a good portion of the morning so the views are spectacular. I think this was my favorite day of hiking on the entire trip. Our plan was to go to Twin Lakes and camp there for the night, but we get there by 12:10 and just have lunch. We didn't see decent camp sites in the area, so after consulting the map we decide to push on to West Ute Lake. What we have also found now is that the well-marked CDT does not coincide with the Trails Illustrated map for this section. We figured this out when the trail took us right next to Ute Lake this morning. The map showed the official CDT much further away. We now head down another re-route on the Ute Branch trail. We get hit with another brief afternoon shower and hail storm, hardly worth mentioning except that we stopped to put on rain gear and wait it out. A bonus is that once the storm has passed, we now begin to see more wildlife. Barney sees a big black furry animal in the willow bushes about 40 yards off the trail below us. He thinks it is the biggest black bear he has ever seen. Then the antlers pop up. It was the rump of a big Bull Moose. 2013 CDT 124
We watch it for a while before quietly heading up the trail. Not long after, we see a herd of Elk, possibly close to one hundred in number. Our desire to see some 'big game' is realized. We arrive at west Ute Lake (11,700ft.) at about 4 PM and setup camp. We have some extra time so we get cleaned up and I decide to 'wash' some clothes in the creek and I hang them on a spruce tree to dry. We decide it is a backpacker's Christmas tree – all of the backpacker clothing you would have on your list for Santa. At dusk we can see the lake trout leaping out of the water to snack on the evening's flying insects. We are in the tent by 8 when a light rain arrives.

Overnight, I repeatedly awakened by a critter who seems to be messing with my pack under the vestibule. I know there is no food in there so I can't figure out what is going on. I keep chasing it away and in the process wake up Barney too.

Day 5

When morning arrives I find my hat has been dragged out from under the fly and has holes chewed in it. All due to the pesky rabbit that had been hanging around. He was after the salt deposits from all of the sweat from four days of hiking. The temp had dropped quite a bit and there was frost on the tent fly and on the clothing we had drying. It takes us a bit longer to dry things out but we are able to hit the trail by a little after 8. We are in for a tough day of hiking after the previous day which was mostly at the same elevation.

We drop down a bit and then head up to the divide at the base of Mont Nebo, a thirteener, and reach the 12,500 ft. pass by 8:30. There is a beautiful lake here and we drop our packs and take it all in. 2013 CDT 147
We head down the trail along Nebo Creek. We drop rapidly on a very rocky trail with few switchbacks until we reach tree line and then drop a bit more to the junction with the Vallecito Trail, a drop of nearly 1,000 feet in a little over a mile! But that means we also have to gain that back to get to the divide again within the next 1.5 miles. It's a tough climb, but the last 1/4 mile is just brutal as once again there are no switchbacks and we climb straight up a steep, rock pile for the last 300 foot of elevation gain to reach Hunchback Pass. There is nothing to do but tough it out. Barney passes the time by identifying pieces of shale that resemble each of the 50 states. We are both hunched over when we reach the pass and presume that is how it got its name. This is by far the least favorite part of the trip for me and is enough for me to decide, for the moment anyway, that I would not want to do another trip on the CDT. The trail from Nebo pass to Hunchback pass had little redeeming scenic value and just seemed to be a major obstacle for us.

We crossed the divide again after a short rest and stopped for some water and lunch. On our way down to the Hunchback Trailhead, we meet the first people we've seen in four days coming up the trail. The group was staggered apart but as the first person got close we noticed that he was decked out in about as much Cincinnati themed clothing and gear as you could possible carry or wear. He had on a Hudepohl Beer tee-shirt, some Cincinnati Red's wrist bands, and water bottles with UC logos. When he got close we said 'Hey we're from Ft. Thomas, where are you from?" The answer – Ft. Thomas! We all just about rolled off the mountain laughing. We travel all this way, are in one of the most remote places you can get to in a Colorado wilderness, and the first person we see in days lives just a mile or two from us! We only learn his first name – David – but we get a few pictures and chat a bit before we head off in opposite directions.2013 CDT 163b
We reach the Beartown trail head in short order. It is at a jeep road that leads from the valley up to Kite Lake and some old mines. A few hundred more feet and we reach Bear Creek, our destination for the night. About a mile down the road is the site of the former Beartown mining town, but I don't believe there is anything there now. We decide to skip it. We find a campsite across the creek and downstream a bit from the trail crossing. The stream is very nice at this point and it even has a deep, but small pool which we dub the Bathtub. Later we each take advantage of it for a very cold but short dip to wash up.

We get some beautiful sunset pictures and even see Venus briefly before it disappears below the mountains.

Day 6

The next morning, we also get some beautiful sunrise pics before we pack up. At 8 we start a climb of about 400 to 500 ft. to get back to the divide. We have to put on our rain gear and pack covers near the start because it looks like rain and the wind has picked up and the temps have dropped. We do get a bit of rain on the way up but not much. We can see an old miners' cabin in the distance and see the remnants of mines and tailings on the slopes above it. When we get close to the top of the divide, we again have to wait out a passing storm. Just before we reach the physical divide again, we leave the CDT and head west on the Colorado Trail (CT) to reach the top of the pass. We can see quite a distance in most directions. We can even see more hikers coming up the CT from the Elk Creek drainage. I try the iPhone here, in an attempt to send a text to Jim to give him our location. I get an indication of one bar and the ATT network but it is just a ruse, I have no actual signal. At this point, we have to make a decision to go a bit higher and stay at Eldorado Lake (12,504 ft.) for a night. Since it's still so early and looks to be a bit more exposed to the elements, we decide to head down the CT and try to find a campsite along Elk Creek. As the day progresses, we are glad we did because we meet at least a dozen hikers who are planning to camp at the lake and I don't think we wanted that much company.

The trail down drops a total of 3,500 feet to the Animas River valley. It is very steep at first, but for the first time there are ample switchbacks.2013 CDT 193
At the bottom of the switchbacks we find an old silver mine entrance just off of the trail. A short time later we stop at an old miner's cabin adjacent to the trail. It is leaning quite a bit and probably won't be standing too many more years. The rest of the trail is over rocks and shale and is not much fun. We finally reach some woods and better trail conditions by noon and we stop for lunch. We've talked to a couple of hikers who say there is a lake about 3 miles down, which we in fact see on the map. As we have been told, the campsites we come across and the places we stop are all 'buggy' and not to pleasant for sitting around. We push on. We see a beaver pond but don't realize this is the 'lake' we have been told about. The last couple we saw said they had seen a moose in the pond just prior to our arrival so we are looking for it instead of good campsites. In hind sight, I believe I misread the map and thought the lake was adjacent to a stream crossing, so I do not think we are there yet. Eventually we realized we missed it and just go the distance to get to the river where we've been told there are good campsites.

The trail still has its ups and downs and times we are hiking on rock and shale again, so it takes a toll on us throughout the day. There had been some recent trail maintenance done and areas next to water diversion cuts have been back filled with loose dirt and rock. Because it is so dry, these are treacherous. Barney takes a fall on one of these but lands on his pack, and appears to be OK. We arrive at the river at 5:30 and setup camp. We find a solo hiker there who advises us to walk a little further up the trail to get water from a feeder stream since there is much mine runoff in the river. We now understand why all of the river rock is orange in color! He is an ultralight hiker and says his pack is something like 10.5 lbs., without water. We spend a good deal of time over the evening and next day or so shaking our heads and trying to figure how we could even shed a few pounds off of our 40+ pound packs!

July 3rd, our 7th and last day out.

What a difference a day makes. I slept fairly well for the first time in a week. I finally figured out that taking an antihistamine before going to bed would keep me from getting a stuffed up head. Barney on the other hand, woke up in the early morning hours with a sore ankle. It hurt so badly that he almost had to call me over to help him out of the tent. The ankle was swollen and had some bruising, probably a result of the fall the day before, although it was fine that evening. Watching him hobble around as we get our morning coffee, dose of ibuprofen, and O-bars, I'm quite concerned that we may not make the 3 mile, 1,700 ft. climb to the trail head on this, our last day in the wilderness. I begin to consider our options – including hiking ahead with my pack and coming back for Barney and carrying his pack out. We settle on me taking the complete tent to put less weight on him, and begin slowly making our way up to Molass Pass. Fortunately, there are again ample switchbacks for the steepest part of the trail. As the morning wears on his ankle begins to feel much better and we are able to resume our usual pace. We run into more people on the way up the trail. It seems every time one of us stops to water a rock, other hikers, invariable female, magically appear. The first are two women trail runners who come from behind us. They stop and talk with us for a while. They are doing a final run prior to a foot race they are organizing for the following week. The runners will take off from Silverton, and go some 7 miles along the Durango & Silverton Scenic RR tracks and then charge up the same trail we are on to the trail head and then (I think) down Route 550 back to Silverton. Sounds like a killer to me, I'll stick to hiking.

We arrive at the trail head lot at about 11:15 and fire up the iPhone to contact Jim to have him pick us up. We are a day early. We had pre-arranged for him to the meet us here tomorrow at 12 noon. Fortunately, I am able to get 2 bars while standing next to a small tree at the far end of the lot. The text is sent but I lose a bar and never get his response and can't get a signal anywhere else. Worst case, we can walk down to the nearby Molass Lake RV campground. However, Jim arrives at noon and picks us up. We caught him with the text just in time. He was going to head out for a ride on his Harley. We all head for Silverton to the Handlebars saloon/restaurant where we devour some delicious burgers and fries along with a nice cold brew and celebrate our completion of the trail!

Post Trip Activities

We now have a 2 and a half days to spare before we depart. We go into Durango and pick up some groceries to get us through the next few days and nights. We didn't think to make a list before heading out, so it's a little chaotic with the 3 of us splitting up to get various items we think we will need. Personally, I don't do too much of the grocery shopping at home unless it involves a camping trip. I leave the dinner choices for salmon and steaks to the other two and head to the deli counter to get some sliced turkey. I can't screw that up can I? I consult with the butcher and he suggests 1.5 lbs. and it doesn't sound like enough to me for 3 people for 3 days of lunches, but after he hands me the package, I realize it is way too much. When I arrive at the cart with close to two pounds of turkey, it is immediately confirmed by my two cohorts. It will not be the last time I hear about it. There will be comments about turkey at every meal. By the time we get through the check out the tab is about $110. Best of all, are no freeze dried meals or O-bars anywhere to be found in our cart! While retreating to the cabin, I research options for the 4th of July in Durango and Silverton while I still have internet access on my phone. We all chill out before having a wonderful dinner of expertly grilled Salmon, Shitake mushrooms, and vegetables, along with a nice bottle of wine.

On the 4th of July it is again beautiful weather. There is not much to do so we convince Jim that he should let us help him cut up some fallen trees on the property. He reluctantly agrees and we end up cutting, splitting, and stacking about a cord of wood. Later that afternoon we head to Durango and shop a bit and then end up bar hopping until dinner time. The beers are only $3.00 in each place we visit. The first bar is an Irish Pub and we see a group of 3 young girls and one guy at the other end of the bar and notice one girl is wearing a Kentucky (UK) tee-shirt. So, I head over and ask if she is just a fan or is Kentucky native. Turns out she and her girlfriends are from Florence, KY, which is close to our home town. She now lives in the Durango area, and the others are just visiting.

Although Jim was not particularly looking forward to the parade and the fireworks, as the day wears on it grows on him. It's a new experience for him because he usually spent the holiday backpacking somewhere. As a former high school teacher, he had the summers off. By the end of the night he has had a great time of it. We watch the start of the parade for a bit and head to dinner in a local establishment known for its seafood. Unfortunately, within the next 20 minutes or so, the place completely fills up with other parade goers so it is a long wait for our food. Afterwards we head out to Main Street and merge into the crowd to people watch and listen to the High Rollers, a regional country/rock band based in Durango ( The group has some original songs, but throws in some rock and country standards as well. They get the whole crowd line dancing in the street, but miraculously no one gets trampled – perhaps because I decided to stay out of the fray. The highlight for me was listening to their version of the Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive". Somehow these country gents are able to hit all of the falsetto notes and pull it off. The evening is topped off with some fireworks hosted by the fire department. With the threat of forest fires everywhere, there is a complete ban on any other fireworks in most of the state. Because of the gaps between explosions, we decide that they must be lighting these by hand. It kind of fizzles out and appears to be over so we head back to the car. We are on the road about 10 minutes later when we hear the finale start. We assume they ran out of matches.

We spend Friday in Silverton. We start by driving through town to take a tour of the One Hundred gold mine, which is a few miles north of town.2013 CDT 212 It is a short ride into the mine crammed into some open 'train' cars. We had to don hard hats and rain slickers because there is water dripping from much of the roof. We are informed by the staff that it is 46 degrees in the mine. We are wearing shorts and tee-shirts and under the slickers and are under dressed even for the outdoors that day. Before our tour starts, Barney pans for some gold and silver in the troughs outside the mine with the rest of the youngsters. He proudly displays a few flecks he has spotted in his pan. He has a lot more work to do to pay for our tour.

After the tour we return to Silverton and have the sandwiches we made for lunch. By the way, they have the most generous helpings of turkey – more than you would get at Subway for sure! We are still cold and set off in search of some hot coffee so that we can begin some serious souvenir shopping before heading back to the cabin.  We wrap up our day with a Filet Mignon dinner complete with baked potatoes and corn on the cob. I sure don't miss the Mountain House meals and it is nice finish to our trip.