The one area that seemed to cause trouble was the top of the flagged trail:
Travis, do you think that some additional flagging tape would improve this? I was hoping that traffic, over the years, would wear a trail into the heather and keep people on track. But perhaps more flagging would be useful for now. Any other suggestions?The initial sections of the trail were surprisingly difficult to navigate. We got off-route and had to reverse our steps several times.
Scouting the descent after Crossover Pass from below was also very helpful.
Generally, the flagged trail was good. It was worn-in at spots, but not everywhere. Keep in mind that we were running on very low mental energy, so that most likely contributed to our lack of ability to spot the flagging / trail. Generally, you could spot the next flag from the previous flag, but it was usually a fair distance away and the leader had to stop for a few seconds to find it. I can think of two instances (one very frustrating time, which I talk about) where we couldn’t spot it the next flag and spent some time running around in circles trying to find it.
Also, we relied on the flagging more so than the trail. The trail forks at many spots, and I’m sure it all ends up at next tape, but it could get very confusing if you’re just relying on the trail.
All in all though, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. As I talked about it in the report, I expected it to be horrendous and that is what I mentally prepared for, which helped keep my spirits from dropping. I was prepared for the challenge and I actually enjoyed figuring out the route finding cruxes. Exception being those couple flagging mysteries. I wanted to go into auto-pilot mode, but Mount Slesse wasn’t having any of it!
I think flagging would help improve the trail for sure at and above tree line. But anyone who has done the climb and gotten that far into the descent shouldn’t have too much trouble figuring it out. Many of the flagging was starting to disintegrate though. I’m not sure what the life span of flagging tape is, but my uneducated guess would be that most of it would be gone in a year or two.
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