Today was the big day! We were heading to the Continental Divide! Where the waters part to go either to the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean. The fate of a raindrop. Where East meets West. Where uphill gives way to downhill. A real milestone!
We awoke to the sound of bull elk bugling all around us. It was dark and it was soooo cool! Like something out of National Geographic. We were far enough into the wilderness where there was little hunting pressure that they were bugling like I’ve never heard. They could hear us picking up camp and it didn’t scare them away. But we were in for yet another surprise.
Just as we were getting ready to pack the horses, we heard a great commotion and looked up to see the 5 horses, like a school of fish, turn at once and try to run away- or rather- pull the trees down that they were tied to! We looked in the direction of their concern to see three moose staring at us from the hill just above our camp! A mama, her year old calf, and this year’s calf. They stared at us like “what are you doing in our dining room?” Then decided to come eat anyhow! They went down to the willows near the beaver pond and ate there all morning while we packed and left. The horses, for some reason are scared of moose- not bears, not mountain lions- moose! They settled down quickly as they have seen moose before at home, but poor Chance maybe has never seen one and he stood there just shaking. Richard pet him for a long time until he decided he was going to live! Oh- and the beaver slapped the water at us too when we were watering the horses! This remote area was quite a wildlife hotspot.
It wasn’t as far to the Divide as we thought, but we knew it when we saw it. Most places on the Divide are steep, rugged, jagged mountain peaks- the highest points. One would expect a dramatic trail up to a crest in the mountains, then a steep decent. But God was so creative- and He included a gentle sloping area at the far side of a huge open meadow (probably a mile wide by two miles long) with rugged mountains sloping steeply above on either side. A perfect gateway for weary riders and horses. Almost too simple- yet couldn’t be more perfect. The peaks were already covered in snow- a more difficult trail would have been too dangerous to cross this late in the year.
We actually had to scope out the hillside and decide exactly where the highest point was. It was between two signs- for the boarders of each county- but it was such a gentle grade. But we found the right place- we know- because we did a ritual pee on the continental divide- and it went BOTH ways!!!!! I held it for a long time so I could do that!
It was such a feeling of accomplishment- to finally cross the 10,600 foot pass in the Continental Divide- to start going down more than up. There were tears of joy, trembling excitement, and humble appreciation for the window of good weather we had been given. We were elated as we began our decent- and yes- I commemorated the event on another aspen tree. (I’m about to run out of aspen trees so I couldn’t miss this one. There won’t be any in Kansas!)
The trail came out by the Rio Grande Reservoir where we met Grayson with hugs and excitement. He drove all the way from California with his camper and trailer to help us out once again. We were so happy to catch up with him- and to have a yummy supper and a warm bed! I perfect end to an awesome day.