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March on!

Poor Diane was down again ó this time, upside down. Barely visible above the snow that had swallowed her, her snowshoes kicked skywards, searching for solid ground again. Although I, and my inverted squirming wife, had ìpost-holedî hundreds of times already on this Colorado Trail segment, in less-than-ideal snow conditions, neither of us had actually been swallowed up whole, until now. ìA little help here,î a muffled voice patiently pleaded. What a trooper!There are reasons that most donít hike the CT in winter. Deep snow at an elevation of over 10,000 feet ó we now admitted ó was definitely one of those reasons. We were not approaching the Colorado Trail as a through hike, but had been knocking off parts when we could get out into the wilderness. There are 28 segments, more than 468 miles, running from Denver to Durango. We tackled this great trail in bite-sized pieces.We had divided up this long Segment 8 into two parts, and returned to finish the latter half snowshoeing. May have not been the best idea. Snowdrifts that looked solid broke away near buried willow bushes and left us thigh-deep in snow or worse. I pulled Diane out and we trudged forward. I would leave no trail soldier behind! We did almost have to leave one snowshoe behind, until we finally found it buried in the hole.The hike trended downhill from Tennessee Pass to just beyond historic Camp Hale, which was built in 1942 as a unique base for training troops for high altitude and winter warfare during World War II. The 10th Mountain Division learned cold-weather survival, rock climbing, cliff repelling and downhill skiing, along with basic training before heading out to Europe to fight the Germans in Italyís Apennine Mountains. Not much remains of Camp Hale today, except some concrete foundations, skeletal rebar spikes and a plaque on Tennessee Pass commemorating the sacrifice of the 10th.Given the Mountain Divisionís battles, severe hardships and heavy casualties, I could hardly complain about our arduous little snow hike. We marched on, helping each other out of holes, and encouraging each other to keep our eyes on the goal.T. Duren Jones spends time in the Colorado wilderness as often as possible. He has hiked hundreds of trails, completed the nearly 500 miles of the Colorado Trail, and has summited all 54 of Coloradoís 14,000-foot peaks. He loves the outdoors. He hates snakes.

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