Published On: Thu, Feb 7th, 2013

Two-week mountain hike tests Freeman

LAUREL — How about hiking above 12,000 feet for two weeks, carrying a 30-pound back pack? Add to that, no showers, no toilets, and no phones.

Maybe that’s not for most folks, but for Dwayne Freeman and his sister Judy Eidon it was something they both wanted to do, but neither knew they were planning to hike the Continental Divide.

It was through a phone call, he learned of her plans.

He told her, “You make the plans and I’ll be there.”

She’d been to Columbine Pass before, so she made plans for the two of them to hike for a week and then be joined by Dwayne’s wife, Marietta, son Michael, Jamie Larson and Erika Diediker at the pass for another week of backpacking.

Their map was a GPS.  Dwayne said, “Each night we “hit spot” (satellite locator) and our location would come up on the computers of those at home. In an emergency we could push 911 and they would “send in” (emergency personnel).”

Judy added, “It was helpful to Marietta’s group because they could see we were edging closer and closer to where we would meet.”

The two of them began at 8,500 feet and over two days climbed to 12,000 feet.

The rest of their time was spent above that level in the Weminuche Wilderness.

They carried only a 12-day supply of food so it was necessary to depend on Dwayne’s fishing ability for some of their meals. They used a pop can stove to cook meals and drank water from mountain streams, which they purified, for drinking. Some of their food was in dehydrated form.    Each night they threw a bear bag (containing toiletries and food) up in the tree to protect it from the wildlife.

One night, after dark, Dwayne had buried fish remains and when he stood up was surprised by a pair of eyes staring at him from the woods. The headlight on his forehead kept “eye contact” with the animal until Judy could bring a flash light to see what was behind the eyes.  It was a deer–with a true ‘deer in the headlight’ look.

Judy said they wore layers of clothes of wick and fleece for warmth.

“You wear the same thing every day. You have night clothes, so when you get to camp, you wash out your clothes and because they are so wicking, they are dry in the morning,” Judy said. “We each had a jacket, hat and gloves.”

At one point, they met a 68-year old woman, hiking by herself.  She had no GPS and was scheduled to meet her husband, but became lost. They helped her find her way back to the trail where she made the wrong turn.

They met one other person, a man who was completing the third leg of the Triple Crown. He’d already finished the Pacific Crest and the Application Trails, and was headed to Mexico from Canada on the Continental Divide (3200 miles).

Pick up this week’s issue of the Laurel Advocate to read more!