Written by The Dog Team
Please note that Daily Log entries are based on a race
day, from 2:30 am to 2:30 am.
The Dog Team was completely gathered
by Saturday, September 2, 2000, in Denver, Colorado.
The day before the start, The
Dog Team took the scenic Silverton to Needleton train ride to
gain access to the Eolus Group. The train drops the team
off along the side of the tracks deep in the Needle Mountains of
the San Juan Range.
On the hike to the start line,
Rad Dog treated a dog team member who had recently been
at sea level for mild altitude sickness.
Windom, Sunlight, Eolus, Mt.
Wilson, El Diente, Wilson Peak, Sneffels
During the Eolus Group, Cave
Dog had good weather with some leftover snow on the rock from a storm several
days earlier. Cave Dog has mixed emotions as he arrives
at the train tracks an hour and twenty one minutes before the train
arrived to pick up The Dog Team On the one hand, he was excited
about his fast time on the Eolus group and on the other hand, he was
bummed he did not start at 3:50 am.
Later, he ran into some problems
with a lightning storm while climbing El Diente that had the
rocks buzzing and his hair standing on end. Cave Dog wanted
to make a strong push on the first day so he included the Wilsons
with the Eolus group. He was anxious about getting stuck on
the Wilsons after nightfall. He had planned to ascend Wilson
Peak in darkness without a moon; hence, he was extremely excited and
exuberant to find himself running down before dusk.
Right from the beginning, Cave
Dog's left big toe turned completely numb. This was expected
since it had become momentarily numb during most of his training
hikes after a boulder crushed his left foot while on Eolus's Southeast
Face at the end of July. However, this time he would not regain
feeling in that toe for another three and a half months.
Handies, Sunshine, Redcloud,
Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn, San Luis
Late at night, Lady Dog got locked
out of Josephine(backup 4 wheel drive vehicle). Fortunately,
she was able to get a key by using a walkie talkie to reach Burns
Dog, who in turn used a pay phone to call Scurv E. Dawg's mobile phone
as he and Sea Dog were on the road in the Kennel.
Rad Dog had the unfortunate experience
of blowing out a tire on Myrtle this night during the long drive
to the Handies trailhead. He drove all the way down from Cinnamon
pass on three tires. At the base of the American Basin, he had
to change the tire in the dark holding a flashlight in his mouth.
Cave Dog finished summitting Handies in the length of time it
took to change the difficult tire. A portion of the support
crew's day was spent in Lake City securing a new tire.
After staging Wheezy(errand car)
in Salida, Burns Dog and Lady Dog were detained for the entire day
because of some miscommunication about the rendezvous spot and no
cell service in Lake City. Amazingly, they spotted the Kennel
in a parking lot on a side street in Gunnison not even realizing that
it was in that town.
There were thirty to fifty knot
winds on Handies, Wetterhorn, and San Luis and ten to thirty
knot winds on Sunshine, Redcloud, and Uncompahgre.
Culebra, Little Bear, Ellingwood,
The day started with an early
morning hike up and run down Culebra while the crew stayed behind
and played with the dogs on Culebra Ranch. Cave Dog
ran down Culebra because he did not want to get stuck doing the long
Blanca to Lindsey traverse in the dark and the ranch would not allow
him to hike Culebra during the night. Unfortunately, a slow exchange
between Culebra and Little Bear pushed him into the dark, anyway.
Along the entire ridge to the Culebra summit, Cave Dog had thirty knot
winds gusting to forty-five knots that knocked him over on several occasions.
From Culebra, The Dog Team headed
to Lake Como Road to rendezvous with the ATVs to gain access
to the Blanca Group. One of the ATVs broke down and had to
be left behind for the time being. This forced Rad Dog and Burns
Dog to ride piggyback down the Lake Como Road. Cave Dog was
picked up late on Huerfano Road after summitting Lindsey with the report
that he had stumbled on his descent from a carbo low and had fallen into
a deep and unscheduled slumber for an indeterminable amount of time.
He could not feel either of his arms when he woke up. Somehow the
Myrtle radio got switched to a transmit only function. Frustratingly,
Cave Dog could hear The Dog Team but could not report back his difficulties.
This was by far the most tired Cave Dog got for the entire event and
provided a temporary morale downer. Lindsey had ten knot winds
gusting to twenty-five.
Crestone Needle, Crestone Peak,
Challenger, Kit Carson, Humboldt
Sea Dog hiked up to the Needle
with Cave Dog, summitting shortly after him and recording the
event in the summit registry. At one point, on a two foot
narrow ridge crossing, Cave Dog had to convince a stubborn mountain
goat to move out of the way. This hike was finished a couple
hours faster than had been expected. Cave Dog got another boost
Unfortunately, the timing did
not allow the crew to gain access to the desired route up Pikes
Peak as it is closed at night. Rather than take a longer hiking
route, The Dog Team decided to reschedule Pikes Peak as the second
to last peak. This decision was made with some reluctance
because it forced the crew to drive through Denver. But out
of the twenty four hours of a day that the crew could end up driving
through the city, it was unlikely to be during rush hour; so, they
decided to risk it.
After the pickup on Shavano,
the team raced over to Aspen to attempt Pyramid and the Maroon Bells before
nightfall. After encountering some gnarly weather on Pyramid including
rain, hail, snow, and thunderstorms the team decided to retreat from the
area and return to the Bells after they had some time to melt. The
Dog Team drove to the Sawatch Range to tackle some less technical peaks
that could be done easier in adverse situations. This was by far the
lowest moment of the entire event. Cave Dog even decided to take the
time for his one and only shower during the event.
Holy Cross had been planned as
a rejuvenation hike after finishing all but one of the more difficult
hikes. A day out of schedule, Holy Cross proved to be just
that, a great inspirational hike. Rad Dog told ascending hikers
to cheer on Cave Dog as he passed by. Cave Dog was so motivated
by the random and unexpected applause that he found himself running
down in a great mood and ready for more, Pyramid all but forgotten.
- Rad Dog did not realize he would
be taking Cave Dog directly from Massive to Elbert without returning
to the Kennel for more food. He gave all of his food to Cave Dog.
Generous hikers at the bottom of Massive gave Rad Dog some jerky
and a beer which he greatly appreciated.
- A log, about two and a half feet
in diameter, laid across the road to the Elbert trailhead.
An attempt to move the log with Myrtle only produced a dent in
the front passenger side fender. Fortunately, it only cost
Cave Dog about fifteen minutes of extra hiking.
- Cave Dog's tongue swelled
up and developed several bumps. He decided not to worry his
support crew over an injury that did not impact his climbing performance.
It was only discovered after the event that he was allergic to one
of the energy drinks that, without refrigeration, was rotting.
- Doing these four long solos, Cave
Dog gained 16,165 feet.
Drama on the Maroon Bells Traverse:
The first attempt at the Maroon Bells was stopped by a hail/snowstorm
that hit while Cave Dog was on Pyramid Peak. That forced
him to postpone the Bells until today. It had been hoped that
since the Sawatch melted completely the prior day that the same would
be true for the Elks; unfortunately, above 13,400 much of the rock
was covered with an inch of ice hidden by as much as four inches of
snow. At one point during the traverse between North Maroon and South
Maroon, in the midst of a difficult climbing maneuver while ascending a
small gully, Cave Dog's legs slipped out from underneath him, causing
him to lose grip of the hand in motion at the time. At this point,
he was left dangling above an 800 foot nearly vertical slope just by his
right elbow that had been his sole secure hold at the time. After
that experience, he decided to take the longer path down from South
Maroon instead of the planned shorter route repeating the traverse.
On Castle, Cave Dog traversed
a 400 foot wide steep snowfield to find himself surrounded by
ice lenses. It took almost a half hour to cross the last
thirty feet. With 600 feet of steep snow and ice below him and
a talus runout, he was not even able to turn around without losing
his footing. He bashed in his running shoe clad feet into the
wall of hard snow and ice dozens of times for every step, just to create
a half inch lip to stand on. By the time he finished, his feet
were stinging with pain and he was exhausted.
While Cave Dog spent all day
on the long and difficult Snowmass/Capitol Traverse, The Dog Team got to
shower, refuel, and prepare for Tuesday's seven mountain traverse.
The Dog Team was nervous about the Snowmass/Capitol climb because it was
the only route Cave Dog was not able to scout out during training.
He had made four prior attempts at this long traverse but was hampered by
a car wreck, a body recovery effort, and twice by lightning.
Even though it was in competition, he decided not to alter his policy of
never rushing when on a climb for the first time. In the end, the
climb was slow and tedious, and Cave Dog scrambled a different route than
had been recommended to him. Cave Dog ran down part of the descent
of Capitol but had to quit because it was chewing up his body. This
was the only climb in which Cave Dog ran out of water.
After Capitol, only one of
the difficult climbs remained, Longs Peak. Cave Dog set out
to make an eighteen mountain push for the finish. Unfortunately,
night climbs were becoming increasingly more difficult. Miraculously,
as soon as the sun came up, the torturous nights were forgotten.
Missouri, Belford, Oxford, Harvard,
After the first peak of the seven
mountain traverse, Cave Dog wanted an hour dognap; unfortunately,
a mix up occurred and his sleeping bag was forgotten. For
two hours, Cave Dog made futile attempts at sleeping by the shore
of Clohesy Lake only to continually wake up in violent shivers and
fits with his knees in pounding pain from his subconsciously curling
up into the fetal position for warmth. After kicking himself
for not thinking of it sooner, Cave Dog downclimbed the quarter mile
to Myrtle and took his hour dog nap upright in the front seat with the
car heater running. All told, he felt more exhausted and in more
pain after his break than before. Fortunately, once the sun
rose, shortly after starting off for Missouri, Cave Dog felt great and
all was forgotten.
Members of The Dog Team got to
hike in and refuel Cave Dog at three low points during the seven
mountain traverse from Huron to Yale. During refueling the
3,000 foot rule was carefully observed (see
for details on the 3,000
foot rule, the Colorado Rule).
After spending hours in the cold
waiting for Cave Dog to find his dognap, Sea Dog and Scurv E.
Dawg blew out a second tire on Myrtle. While in town buying
another tire to replace the spare, the Kennel ran over a nail and
also needed a little tire attention.
Cave Dog got to the Pine Creek
rendezvous an hour earlier than the support crew and debated
about leaving without them. Thinking about the incredibly
miserable carbo low on Lindsey and the long Harvard to Columbia
traverse to come, he decided to wait it out no matter how much frustration
there would be in waiting.
After completing Yale, Cave Dog
caught up with the Kennel and four sleeping dogs. The Dog
Team instantly woke up and threw a miniparty for Cave Dog for completing
the seven mountain traverse including home baked cookies from his
sister, Lisa, and inspirational artwork from his nieces, Laura
age 5 and Karen age 3. This was a tremendous boost for Cave
Sherman, Democrat, Lincoln, Bross,
Quandary, Grays, Torreys, Bierstadt
By now, Cave Dog's tongue was
so sore he could no longer taste his food. Eating caused temporary
but excruciating pain. Nevertheless, thinking about Lindsey, he continued
to shovel it in relentlessly. Even with a master chef, food was for
refueling not dining.
Sea Dog accompanied Cave Dog
up Quandary and summited about twenty minutes behind him, taking a moment
to record the event in the summit registry. Sea Dog got detained in
the cliffs on the South side of Quandary's East Ridge and could not give
Cave Dog a ride to the next mountain group. At the same time, both
Sea Dog and Cave Dog's radio batteries began to give out. They were
alternately able to make sporadic one word transmissions. Miraculously,
they were able to reach The Dog Team in Blue River while they were updating
the website. Rad Dog brought Josephine to pick up Cave Dog. Unfortunately,
Cave Dog met the road about a third of a mile below Rad Dog. Unable
to use his radio, he hitchhiked to the rendezvous. Rad Dog and Cave
Dog headed out to Grays, leaving Sea Dog to his own devices.
With the mountains close together
and the routes technically easier, Cave Dog pushed for the finish,
gaining 17,025 feet.
He then had a triumphant summit
experience on Pikes Peak, with the whole team joining him at
the summit for an impromptu, if premature, victory celebration.
NBC out of Colorado Springs and Pueblo caught up and filmed his ascent.
Cave Dog departs for Longs summit
from the East, while the team regrouped at the opposite side to
meet him on his descent into Glacier Gorge. A beautiful and challenging
hike awaited The Dog Team as they ascended 2000 feet over six
miles in order to meet Cave Dog at the finish line, 3000 feet below
the summit. With the moon so bright that headlamps become optional
in the brightly lit tundra, The Dog Team shared a sublime finish to
an engaging and intense outdoor experience.
Cave Dog finished at 10:56 pm
on the night of Thursday, September 14th, 10 days, 20 hours,
and 26 minutes after he started.
After a minicelebration up Glacier
Gorge, The Dog Team made the long hike out. Cave Dog, no
longer inspired by competition, wanted to take a dognap at every
break. By four in the morning, The Dog Team reached the Kennel
and had a real celebration with balloons and streamers. Overpowered,
Cave Dog falls asleep during the celebration.
After a few trips to the Denver
International Airport, Cave Dog found himself in Boulder with
four vehicles that needed to be in Denver, Ouray, and Carbondale.
He spent the next few days driving the vehicles to their respective
homes and hitchhiking back, including a day in a Montrose body shop for
repairs and a dispute over insurance that, unfortunately, involved the
police chief. Amazingly, some of the people that picked him up
had already read about him in the papers and, in one case, had visited
- The media
continued to call; so, Cave Dog escapes to Albuquerque for some
much needed sun and recuperation, but it was not far enough.
- Cave Dog
found an intense feeling of grace as daily inconveniences seemed
trivial and life beautiful.
The Dog Team would appreciate anyone that finds inaccuracies
in this site to email: Errors@TheCaveDog.com
Any other suggestions or questions, please email: TheDogTeam@TheCaveDog.com
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