Day 43: 5 miles in

Miles Hiked: 5

Today I woke up and walked around the Rio Chama behind our hotel with Rockslide. I then took one last hot bath and shower before getting my pack ready to go. I said goodbye to Jenga and Free Fall before I got in the car with 12 Pack and Rockslide to go up to the pass. On the way out of town we stopped by Rio Chama Espresso for some iced coffee.

Rockslide dropped 12 pack and I off at Cumbres Pass where he originally picked us up. Of course the goodbye was sad as always. Once again I am so thankful to have some awesome support near the trail from my boyfriend.

12 pack and I started hiking up out of the pass around 10:15 am. The first 3 miles were no trouble at all. There was hardly any snow and the only obstacles were mud and some creeks over flowing with snow melt but they weren’t too much trouble to cross. After mile 3.5 we started to hit a lot more snow. Some of the snow was hard packed enough that we were able to walk on top of it without post holing. Whenever I did post hole however the icy snow really hurt. Eventually I got to a point where I was sinking in all the way up to my hip with about every other step. When I would try and get one foot out of a hole my other one would sink down just as deep, sometimes pushing more snow on top of my other foot. Getting out of deep post holes like that is really hard. At one point my foot was stuck for so long that I ended up kicking a giant hole in the snow all around me. The more I post holed the more it hurt. My legs were hot, red and burning and I was questioning if they had started to bleed. They did indeed just a tiny bit. 12 pack was also leaving some drops of blood in the post holes. After we hiked 5 miles total I was absolutely fed up with all the post holing. I told 12 pack I was thinking about turning around. I just don’t think I could make it another 65 miles to the next town if it’s anywhere near as brutal as our last two miles were. It was a really frustrating and hard decision to make but we set up camp in a dry spot around 1pm. I was absolutely frustrated, upset, and very very cold. I didn’t want to let 12 pack down but he was very nice and understanding about me finding my limits. If I turned around so would he because it is way too dangerous to be out in these conditions alone.

When we got to camp I immediately set up my tent and tried to get my feet to warm up. It took about an hour. I tried to calm myself down but I was so frustrated. I wanted to keep going forward but not if it was going to be as awful as the last mile was. I started to look over all the maps I have downloaded on my phone. I checked all the comments on Guthooks, I looked for Let Alternative routes, and I looked over a map of Colorado hiking trails on COTrex to see if I could create my own alternate route. I ended up coming up with a plan. There is a point 20 miles from here where we can choose to bail off the trail. I’m going to do my best to go another 10 miles tomorrow. If I don’t think I can make it all the way to Pagosa, I will hike another 10 miles north the next day before bailing on to a side trail I found on COTrex that links up to an alternative low route the other hikers are taking. 65 miles seems like a longggg way away. But I know if 12 pack can make it another 20 than I should be able to as well. 20 doesn’t sound as awful. We are planning on waking up at 3am tomorrow and I’m hopeful that we will be successful in not post holing until the sun rises. Hopefully during that time we are able to cover a lot of miles. The biggest thing I’m worried about is that the weather will be pretty bad when we wake up ( high winds or active snow) or that the snow doesn’t get cold enough to freeze over night. We are supposed to have a really good weather window ahead of very sunny nice days with highs around 50-60 and lows of 30 over night. I’m hoping this combination works great to make the snow pack more ideal for hiking. We will see!

It felt like we were at camp forever today. We did set up a 1pm so it’s true. After looking at the maps and studying the terrain ahead, I spent my time drying out my socks, eating, organizing my pack, and talking to 12 Pack. We both miss Jenga and Free Fall a lot. I secretly hope we end up bailing to the green line in 20 miles, see them hiking, and convince them to get back on the Red line to go to Pagosa. I’m hoping conditions improve dramatically over the next few days with the upcoming weather.

About 3 hours after we set up camp we saw other hikers! A girl named Hamilton and a guy named Horse also left from Cumbres Pass today on the red line. It makes me feel a lot better to see other people out here. We can’t be the only ones who are willing to go through a suffer fest to test out the red line first! Hamilton and Horse most likely hiked one mile past us. We are hoping that we pass them around the same time they are leaving so we could all hike together tonight. Other than those two, we know a guy named “Roger That” is also in front of us. I believe that is it besides Vince/Snowballz, who is on skis.

I’m really glad I at least left town today to spend another night camping on the trail. Hopefully tomorrow is successful! I’m honestly not looking forward to getting up early but I’m glad that I have lots of warm and wind proof clothes to wear right now!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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