Day 42: Another Zero in Chama

Miles Hiked: 0

Total Milage: 667.5

Location: Elk Horn Lodge, Chama NM

I had a great zero day hanging out with Rockslide, 12 Pack, Jenga, and Free Fall. I started the day by doing my town chores which included laundry, resupplying, and finding a few more pieces of gear I will need to get through the San Juans safely. I picked up some bread bags that Jenga’s mom sent him, extra hiking socks, snow shoes (that I’m borrowing),bungee cord and carabineers to attach the snow shoes to my pack, extra gloves, and extra pants and a long sleeve that Rockslide brought to me.

There are so many hikers in the town of Chama right now with LOTS of nervous energy. There is still a lot of snow in the San Juans right now which makes traveling by foot extremely difficult. Not many people are excited to spend all day post holing. To make the nervous energy even worse, there are many reports in the face book group about people having to bail off trail because of weather and injury from the snow. I don’t think a single hiker has made it all the way from Cumbres pass to Pagosa on the red line yet. Snowballz tried to ski it but broke a binding 20 miles in and had to turn around. We know that there is another skiier who made it out infront of us and then there are a handful of hikers who took a lower alternative route to the next town. A few of those including Rad have tried to hike the red line north of Pagosa but we got a report that they have turned around and bailed off the trail as well. Personally I am extremely nervous about all the snow and how I will handle it but I’m willing to give it my best shot before I call it quits on the Red Line. I don’t have any snow experience at all and I really want to get out there and see what I think of it for myself. I’m not afraid to turn around if I have to and I’m making sure that I am as prepared as I can be. I honestly feel like there is a ton of fear mongering about the conditions. I understand that some people are looking out for others, but I’ve watched a lot of people decide not to give the trail a shot based on the reports. I may end up being an epic failure on this stretch but I’m ready to admit defeat as well!

After doing all my town chores, I took a bath and enjoyed the nice hot water. I was thinking about how much I would be missing that moment about 3 days from now. In the evening we all walked down to the Y motel to socialize with all the other hikers in town. For dinner I got a Frito pie and milk shake from the Chama grille before heading back to our hotel for the night. I’m super glad we are staying at the other end of town. Our hotel is significantly quiet compared to the Y motel with all the other hikers. The Rio Chama is even right behind it with some benches and a nice river walk that we have been taking advantage of. I love to hang out with other hikers but I really like having my own quiet space away from it all at the end of the day.

Jenga and Free Fall have both decided to take another zero day in town. They are not excited about hiking out into the snow. They are considering other options such as hiking one of the lower alternates, hiking another trail while waiting for the snow to melt, or flipping up north to hike a section of Wyoming that doesn’t have as much snow. Either way they plan on finishing the red line this year. I’m really bummed about our trail family splitting up but everyone is doing what is right for their own comfort levels and risk tolerances. Who knows, I could end up seeing them again tomorrow if I turn around or in Pagosa if they take an alternative route. 12 pack and I have decided to head out of Chama together and see what the snow is all about. 12 pack hiked the PCT in 2019 which was a high snow year and he has a lot of experience winter backpacking including climbing mount Washington this past winter. I’m so thankful to have someone willing to tackle this section with me! Heading out alone here isn’t a good idea at all.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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