The Devil’s Causeway shows up as a little red square on my National Geographic map, just floating along in a sea of map green somewhere close to an indistinguishable line between the White River National Forest and the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. Twinkle, Bigfoot, and I were nearing the end of our lower elevation tour of Western Colorado and this was something that had apparently been on Stephen’s Radar since moving to Colorado. He had two friends joining from Denver, Snorkel and Pie, both accomplished thru hikers just wanting to try something new over the weekend.
We car camped in one of the many campgrounds that line the road coming in from Yampa that lead to the wilderness boundary. A stop at the local gas station for a map revealed that, as usual, we were going to die out there, that there was too much snow and we were idiots. I think all of us have just gotten used to this kind of fear mongering and feel comfortable trusting ourselves and our very healthy self preservation instincts.
The Devil’s Causeway is a short ridge spline that rises almost 1,000 feet and is only 3 feet across at its narrow point. Heights are my least favorite thing in the world, but I am also not afraid to say no when a situation becomes uncomfortable for me. That being said I am trying to get more open exposure in small doses in the hopes of reducing my fear of falling off cliffs.
We set out from the trailhead in the morning, knowing that there would be snow and the earlier we could get out the less post holeing would need to be done. There was in fact a lot of snow out there, but most of the way up we were able to stay on top of it. After the first half mile or so there was no longer a trail and we followed the footprints and ski lines of others before us. Our approach was relatively steep, straight up the snow with some small switchbacks at near the top when the angle increased. Relatively easy going until that point where Twinkle took the lead and kicked in foot holds. We took a break at the top and had a quick chat with another guy who had just come down from the causeway who said it was snow free. That was a relief, but I was still unsure if I was going to attempt it.
Straight up another steep climb in the snow we made it to that narrow ribbon of rock, which we all took a minute to examine the sheerness of the drop off. And then everyone proceeded to simply walk across, Twinkle even holding my GoPro on a selfie stick, well everyone but me. At first I flat out refused, then i crawled out 10 feet, got dizzy and sat down, when that passed I made it another 10 feet to a rock big enough to hug. The whole ordeal was pretty embarrassing at this point, but I was getting across, slowly and on my stomach, but getting there. Once to the other side I contemplated the idea of a 14 mile cross country hike in solid snow being a better alternative than the 100ft or so traverse back over the causeway, but with enough encouragement I crawled my way back across, much more confidently this time.
The hike back was a rougher experience, it was afternoon now and the snow was noticeably softer. We did some mild post holing but nothing too miserable. Snorkel did go in deep once, deep enough that she could not get out herself. It took several minutes of digging and 3 of us to pull her frozen leg out of the hole, now missing her shoe, and dug that out as well, but beyond a bloody shin she was fine.
Back at the vehicles we determined that the best course of action was to find a greasy spoon and see how many calories we could unnecessarily consume, and it just so happens that for some reason the tiny town of Yampa has just such an establishment, open 24 hours none the less! After large breakfasts for lunch and some amazing coffee milkshakes I said my goodbyes to everyone. I will be meeting them back in Denver in a few days, but I had some time to kill before then and wanted to spend some more time in the Flat Tops and Rocky Mountain NP.