Wildfire interrupts Big Agnes’ efforts to hold 11-week staff meeting on Continental Divide Trail | SteamboatToday.com

Wildfire interrupts Big Agnes’ efforts to hold 11-week staff meeting on Continental Divide Trail

Five Big Agnes employees started the Continental Divide Trail hike on Monday but had to turn around because the San Juan National Forest was closed. Pictured, from left, are Pete Kraska, Devin Dummit, Matt Barrett, Hunter Reynolds and Rodrigo Ahumada.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The employees at Big Agnes should spend the next couple of weeks doing a rain dance if they hope to complete their 11-week staff meeting on the Continental Divide Trail.

The team from the Steamboat Springs-based outdoor gear company started its 740-mile hike of the Colorado portion of the Divide Trail in relay fashion Monday. Already, wildfires in Southwest Colorado have interrupted their hike.

Big Agnes committed to hiking Colorado's portion of the Divide Trail after the company adopted a 75-mile section of the trail, which is also called the 1101 Trail. They are also using the hike to promote their 1101 series of sleeping bags, and a portion of sales are being donated to the Continental Divide Trail Coalition.

Big Agnes marketing director Garett Mariano said five employees started the hike from the New Mexico-Colorado border Monday. They made it 7 miles north before being told to turn around.

The U.S. Forest Service was closing the 1.8-million-acre San Juan National Forest at midnight because of wildfires, and those caught violating the closure risk a $10,000 fine.

"Absolutely disappointed," Mariano said. "We spent an extraordinary amount of time planning, and the employees have been spending a lot of time preparing. They've organized their summers to include the hike."

Big Agnes broke the hike into 24 sections, and they need to keep on schedule because of the logistics.

Big Agnes plans to stay on that schedule, although they cannot currently tackle the first three sections that go through the San Juan National Forest.

They will pick the trail back up on June 29 for the fourth section that will take them 54.6 miles from Spring Creek Pass to Lujan Creek.

Mariano said they hope to complete the portions inside the San Juan National Forest before the planned end date of Aug. 24, but that is dependent on the Forest Service lifting the closure order.

"Going into this we knew there were going to be some challenges, and this was the first one," Mariano said. "We recognize the CDT is a wild, rough trail. It's the Wild West. Lots of things can happen."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.

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