Day 47: Weasel Spring

Miles Hiked: 30.4

Total Milage: 699.1

Location: Weasel Spring

Last night I slept great however I still felt extremely tired when I woke up at 5:15 am. Besides a cow waking me up by mooing very loudly around 2am, I think I got about 8 hours of sleep. 12 pack and I started hiking just before 6am. It was still cold enough to hike with a hoodie, puffy and gloves for the first three miles.

The first exciting thing that happened today was walking through South Pass City. It’s a historic gold mine camp that was thriving in the 1860s but quickly died out within 10 years. I took my time checking out the buildings and reading the information signs. It would be a really cool place to visit while they are actually open! We were the only ones who seemed to be moving around before 7am. Afterwards, we continued hiking south. There were a few very steep and short climbs at the beginning of the day that really kicked my butt. I thought this section was supposed to be flat! I think I was just really tired and my body is adjusting back to hiking big mile days again. For 10 miles we hiked on a hard packed dirt road to Sweetwater bridge. The time went by very fast but my feet, ankles, and knees were aching by the time we got there. 12 pack and I took an hour and a half break for lunch. We had already hiked 15 miles by 11:30! To reward myself I ate one of my favorite trail meals ever, a southwest breakfast skillet from mountain house. Thanks mom! While we were eating, two other hikers passed by going Northbound. Their names were Honey and Repeat and they also hiked from Mexico to Colorado about the same time we did this year. They plan to hike north to Montana skipping all the snowy mountain sections and doing them last. They live near Chama New Mexico so they will be saving the San Juan range for their finish because it’s so close to home. It was great to see other hikers who flip flopped!

After the break at the bridge we pretty much hiked on dirt/sandy roads for the rest of the day. The terrain was a wide open field of short bushes on rolling hills. In the backdrop to the North, we could see the snowy wind river range. The mountains made for a great view at every break. I thought the hiking was extremely easy and manageable today but my body was aching so much. For some reason my knees and ankles were really bothering me which is somewhat unusual. I think I twisted both of the joints so much in the snow last week that they are just sore. I’m hoping the aching goes away in the next week.

We ended up meeting two other hikers today. A guy named UV? was heading North. He hiked almost the whole trail last year but still has to finish the Basin (the section we are doing right now) and everything North of Yellowstone. At camp, we met “Mary Badass”. She is an older lady who hiked both the AT and PCT in a 13 month time frame about 40 years ago. I believe she is hiking North currently. She did the first half of the CDT last summer. She also doesn’t want to hike in snow ever again after her experiences on the other two trails. She was super cool to meet! When we ended up setting up camp next to her she told us she only got to camp with other people four times last year. I couldn’t imagine!

12 pack and I stopped hiking when we got to a water source around 6:30. Both of us were so tired and sore from today. I was tempted to keep hiking further just because it’s such easy terrain and we have lots of daylight left but my body was so ready to be done. I wanted to do some very high mileage days in the Basin, possibly my longest day of hiking ever, but I think I will hold off. My body is hurting too bad to push it too hard and risk injury. I can tell 12 pack wants to take it easy too.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 46: Wyoming

Miles Hiked: 1.2

Total Milage: 668.7

Location: Mile 1254.2 (SOBO)

Today we (Itchy, 12 Pack, and myself) woke up at Revolts house. We enjoyed some morning coffee with him and Julie before hitting the road for a 9.5 hour drive. We were able to make the drive in 9.5 hours even with stopping to grab food, water, and gas. My last meal before getting back on trail was a nacho grande platter from taco bell. The drive was very scenic as we followed the mountains that the trail passes through most of the way. In the beginning we were literally driving on the alternative low route that some hikers choose to do when there is too much snow, instead of flipping. I am so glad we won’t be doing that much highway walking and instead I will get to see the San Juans in about a month when all the flowers are blooming!

Itchy dropped 12 pack and I off at the trail around 6:30pm. She was really sad to say goodbye! I hope to see her again when I get closer to where she lives in Colorado. 12 pack and I then hiked until we found a good spot to camp because the sun was going down. We ended up finding a great cluster of trees that blocked the wind.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 45: Revolt to the rescue yet again

Miles Hiked: 0

Total Milage: 667.5

*** I didn’t count any of the miles I did north of Cumbres Pass***

Location: Pagosa Springs

Today 12 pack and I woke up and started hiking by 6:30am. I was anxious to get to town and start the process of getting to Wyoming as fast as I can. 12 pack also decided he wants to flip as well. I’m very glad because I would definitely not attempt to hitch across an entire state alone. Not only that but I’ll have someone else to hike with. I don’t expect to see any other hikers in Wyoming until we catch up to Jenga and a few other people he has been hiking around. Speaking of Jenga, we got a call from him right before we started descending back to the highway. He is really excited for us to flip up to Wyoming and gave us the details about where to get back on trail and so on. It was great to hear from him and I can’t wait to see him again! We continued to descend and eventually came to a creek crossing. The first time I ran across the log over it. This time 12 pack warned me that it was icy. He made it across, so I decided to try the log again as well. I slipped and fell straight into the ice cold creek almost immediately. It’s the first time I’ve ever fallen off a log into a creek and it definitely shook me up. Luckily I fell in upstream of the log and only my waist down was wet besides some parts of my shirt. I immediately got out as fast as I could and kept hiking just because it was so cold. Thank goodness the sun was up! And thank goodness it was a shallow stream. When we arrived at the highway I gave my boyfriend a call and we got a hitch to town in the back of a pick up truck with a few other hikers. They had all just crossed the Colorado border. It was l new people I haven’t met yet. It was refreshing to see some new faces.

When we got to Chama it was time to get business done. I grabbed some coffee from Rio Chama, a sandwich from Subway, and headed to the Y motel. There I talked to some other hikers while eating my sandwich including Melissa, Old Head, and Melon. Before leaving to hitch hike to Pagosa, I returned the snow shoes I was borrowing and made a sign. 12 pack and I stood on the road for about 40 minutes before getting picked up by a nice family heading through Pagosa. It was about a 40 minute drive before we got dropped off in down town.

When we got to Pagosa 12 pack and I walked the rest of the way to Revolts house. We were so happy to see each other! We all hung out for a little bit and I received my first package in the mail from someone besides myself. I love you mom! She sent me lots of drink mixes including chai tea lattes and liquid IVs which are my favorites! I also got a ton of peanut M and MS, cashews, two mountain house breakfasts, toilet paper, and almond butter packets. She even decorated the box very sweetly. I can’t wait to get home and see my family when I’m finished. We were discussing plans on how to get to Wyoming as fast as we could and it seemed like the only way was to hitch hike. Public transit via bus would most likely take longer and there were no rental cars available at all. 12 pack and I were invited to stay the night at Revolts so we took him up on it. We wanted to spend time with our friend and we knew we wouldn’t make that much forward progress tonight anyways. After that decision Revolt started to make us some of his specialty cocktails. He told us that he would make us tiki drinks when we came to see him in Pagosa and he lived up to the promise! They were delicious.

While we were enjoying our cocktails I got a call from my sister, Itchy. As soon as she found out what we were doing she offered to drive us to Wyoming without hesitation. She hadn’t even made it home from her vacation yet! She drove straight from Denver to Revolts to stay the night and hang out with us all. I couldn’t believe how lucky I am! I absolutely despise driving and an extra 16 hours round trip sounds miserable. We made sure to let her know we’d pay her for gas plus her time!

While we were waiting for her to arrive, we went to Revolt and his wife Julie’s favorite bar in town. Motel SOCO was so much fun! We even got to meet see of their friends. Afterwards we went back to Revolts house and they made us hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner. I was so hungry and it was delicious! Itchy eventually showed up and we had a great night hanging out together. Thank you so much to Revolt and Julie for hosting us all!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 44: One step forward, two steps back

Miles Hiked: 6

This morning 12 pack and I woke up at 3am. I didn’t sleep super well last night because I was so nervous about today. It was cold this morning but not as bad as I expected it to be, having the winter gear to handle it really helps. We collected water from the nearby stream and started hiking at 3:30. The snow was rock solid. We crunched atop the crust moving much more quickly than yesterday. We were following the snow shoe tracks of Horse and Hamilton over a long snow field before getting back on to frozen muddy trail that traversed the side of a mountain for quite a while. There were some pretty steep patches of snow but we were able to get enough traction from the one-two sets of post holes frozen into the snow. We kept climbing in elevation. About 5am we had made it a little over two miles when we ran into a problem.

The trail turned into a wall of ice and a set of foot prints disappeared on to it after about 25 meters. Above the wall of ice, a rocky and grassy ridge allowed for you to traverse to the mountain pass ahead. At this point 12 pack and I were a little lost on what to do. At first we put on our spikes and tried to traverse on the actual snow covered very steep trail. We ended up deciding that it was too dangerous and turning back. After that I climbed the ridge. When 12 pack got up there he realized that we could traverse on top of the ridge but we would have no idea if there were any steep drop offs. It was still pitch dark outside although the sun was rising. At this point it’s was 12 pack who decided he was ultimately too uncomfortable to continue trying to hike northbound. We were constantly losing he trail this morning and we knew that almost no one else was out here attempting to go through this. I also realized that this ridge is most likely not the only time we would be running into this problem. 12 pack has a significant amount of snow experience and I would consider myself to have zero experience. I figured if he wanted to turn around it was probably a smart idea. Also there was no way we were going to leave each other alone out here. We hiked back to the stream near where we camped last night.

It was 6 am by the time we got back and I was able to see a great sunrise. We both set up our sleeping bags and passed out for a couple of hours. During this time I thought really hard about what I wanted to do moving forward. I had enough service up on the ridge to find out that our friend Jenga flip flopped up to Wyoming. I decided that ultimately I still want to finish this trail mid September. I also have no desire to sit around town waiting for snow to melt. It was then I knew that I really did want to flip flop and it makes the most sense for my goals. I can still get lots of miles done going a different direction rather than sitting still and not making any progress. I told 12 pack that I was planning on flipping up to where Jenga is as fast as I could so that I could continue to make more progress on the trail. At the moment we really hadn’t made any forward progress in 3 days. It would be at least another two days before I could start hiking south from Wyoming if I was lucky.

We both have packages arriving in the next town northbound (Pagosa Springs, CO) so we decided to just spend the day taking a zero (essentially) on the mountain. This way we wouldn’t waste any money sitting around in town. I was also happy that we wouldn’t have to deal with any of the town drama from the other hikers who have been staying there for weeks. It was hard to kill a day with no service, but I spent time studying the maps and eating lots of food including some snow cones made from MiO and snow. Around noon I saw a person walk by so I ran out to see who it was. It was a guy named Sweep hiking southbound, he must have set out and turned around today. He was too far away to talk to by the time I reached the trail. I sat on a log for a minute and then Horse and Hamilton came around the corner. They too had turned back. Hamilton wasn’t interested in going through the snow after she experienced it as well. They made it farther than 12 pack and I and let us know that we in fact would of had to climb up the mountain pass via the ridge. After seeing them turn around too I felt like our decision was very justified.

We had a great sun set at camp and I made sure to take some good pictures. I can’t wait to get service tomorrow to start making plans to get up to Wyoming and to talk to my family and boyfriend about it!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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

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

Day 41: Cheers to the Land of Enchantment

Miles Hiked: 12.9

Total Milage: 667.5

Location: Elk Horn Lodge, Chama NM

This morning I woke up at 5:15 and started hiking at 5:45. I was glad that everyone else also woke up as early as I did. I wanted to cross the border with everyone before it started to rain. The sunrise was very pretty and I was glad I got to see one last colorful morning in New Mexico!

The first three miles of the day went very smoothly. We hiked across a lot of wide open alpine meadows with pine trees dispersed throughout. There were lots of small streams from snow melt running through the meadows that also made them very muddy and slippery. After those first three miles the post holing began. At first the post holing was very patchy. I’d walk on a trail for a couple hundred feet, go into some snow and then repeat. After that it was almost completely snow all the way to the border. Post holing in snow is super exhausting and slows you down a lot. It was really hard to find the trail and really easy to get lost. There were foot prints everywhere going in the wrong directions. I had to constantly check my map to make sure I was in the right spot. I was hiking with 12 pack almost all day through this section. It was really nice to be with a friend who could help me navigate and make sure I was okay. The post holing got pretty dangerous when we were in areas with lots of blown down trees. You could easily lunch down deep into the snow and end up with a foot stuck under a log. This happened to us a couple of times and it really sucked. At one point 12 pack and I only moved 1.5 miles in one hour. A normal hiking pace for us has been 3 miles per hour.

Around noon we crossed Dixie creek and found a bare sunny hill. We walked from there to the border and we’re cheering in celebration along the way. When we got there we took pictures and waited for the rest of our friends. Eventually Free Fall, Jenga, Melissa, and Sunshine all showed up. It turns out they took a different route than us to try and avoid the snow but they were post holing just as much. We celebrated and took a group picture together before hiking on to get out of the rain.

We saw the dark clouds rolling in fast. Past the border, we followed some switch backs down the side of a mountain and then hiked across a ridge to Cumbres Pass. When we got there my boyfriend Rockslide picked us all up and gave us doughnuts and Gatorade! He is the best trail angel. I was so excited to see him again.

Once we got to town, Jenga, 12 Pack, Rockslide, and I all got lunch at the local bar called Fosters. I had breakfast for lunch! Afterwards we checked into our hotel. We were staying at the Elkhorn Lodge again. Everywhere in town was booked up because so many hikers are here. We all hung out for the rest of the night and made some microwave food for dinner. I’m excited to be finished with New Mexico! It’s hard to believe it started in a hot flat desert and ended with one of the most exhausting days of post holing I’ve ever had. Tomorrow we will be taking a zero day to let some bad weather pass.

Today Jenga told us he made to decision to get off trail for a little bit. He has no desire to continue hiking through snow like we did today. It’s only supposed to get worse from here. I’m really sad he won’t be with us any more but I think he has made the best choice for himself. He plans to continue hiking the rest of the summer and finishing the CDT. He will most likely hike south from Canada in a month or do some sections in Wyoming without snow.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 40: Carson National Forest

Miles Hiked: 28.5

Total Milage: 654.6

This morning I woke up at 5:30 and started hiking by 5:45. I was frustrated that I didn’t sleep well last night when I knew I had such a big day to hike today. Today was the first time I had my rain pants and gloves with me on the trail. It made such a big difference on a cold morning! I started hiking by the lake as the sun was rising before crossing highway 64.

Today was a lot more of hiking across alpine fields. I saw elk running across them in the distance. I love seeing all the wildlife roaming around as the sun rises. My friends caught up to me early in the day and I hiked nearby them for most of it. By 1pm we had hiked 19 miles which seems absolutely crazy to me! I can tell that my legs are truly feeling stronger for the first time. I felt like the weakest person at the start of the trail but I also think I’ve gained the most strength of the group so far. I felt that almost every one was in better shape than me from the beginning. I think part of it is from losing so much muscle tone from my knee surgery last spring. I gained a lot of strength back over the summer and ski season but not my long distance hiking legs.

At 1pm Free Fall, 12 Pack, Melissa, and I all took a break at Lahunitas campground together. We enjoyed the picnic tables and waited for Jenga to catch up. I wanted to make sure he knew that we were not far ahead! I really want to cross the border with everyone tomorrow and also avoid the forecasted rain. At 3pm I started hiking again. We wanted to camp about 10 miles from the CO border tonight. After the campground we started to run into a lot more snow. The drifts were pretty large in some areas. I’d say they were easily 3-4 feet deep. The snow slowed me down quite a bit but there were still enough bare spots to make up the time. At the end of the day we hiked across a beautiful mesa with views of the snowy mountains in the distance. The view made me homesick for Telluride where I have lived for the past 1.5 years. I got some service and was able to call Rockslide. I let him know about our plans for the next couple of days and he decided to drive down to meet me for my zero day! I was so excited because I already miss him so much.

Around 7pm we arrived at the spot we chose to camp, 10 miles from the border. There wasn’t a water source but we found a nice large puddle to collect water from. Everyone made it to camp at the same spot tonight. I was super happy about it because I have hiked with them all for the whole state of New Mexico and I really want to celebrate with them.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 39: The long hitch back

Miles Hiked: Zero

Total Milage: 626.1

Location: Hopewell Lake

This morning I woke up and did my chores as efficiently as I could. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to trail today yet or not. After some research on conditions and the weather, I made the decision to hitch hike back to the trail later in the evening. The plan would be to spend the night at Hopewell Lake where we bailed off and wake up as early as I could to hike as far as I could while the weather looks good for tomorrow.

After we checked out of our room at 11am, Jenga, 12 Pack, and I walked to the Y motel where we met up with Free Fall for lunch. While we were eating, storm clouds quickly rolled in and it started to rain. Our friend Plant drove by with a truck. We ended up getting in his vehicle and sheltering at his hotel while we let the storm pass. In the mean time, we watched “A Bugs Life” movie together. After the rain passed, Jenga, 12 Pack, and I went to the road to try and hitch back to the trail. We knew it would be a hard hitch so we wanted to do it today so we would have maximum hiking time tomorrow.

The first hitch we got happened really fast. A local from Tierra Amarilla picked us up and let us ride in the back of his truck. He couldn’t take us all the way but he could take us to the highway that went directly to the campground where we left the trail. After saying goodbye, we were standing on the side of highway 64 trying to get the second hitch for about two hours. No one driving in our direction stopped but many people driving in the opposite direction did stop just to chat with us. One guy even gave us beer! After two hours a car pulled over to give us a ride the rest of the way. Our friends Free Fall and Melissa were already in the vehicle. It was a local couple who likes to help out hikers. We all got in and made it back to camp by 7pm. We were SO THANKFUL for both of those hitches! Apparently it is a very hard location to get back to.

At camp, we set up inside of a small shelter that looked just like the ones on the AT. I was very happy about it. I made Mac and cheese for dinner and passed out around 8pm for the early wake up tomorrow!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 38: Revolt to the rescue!

Miles Hiked: 11.5

Total Milage: 626.1

Location: Elk Horn Lodge, Chama NM

This morning I woke up around 5am. It was still rainy and wet outside. I was absolutely dreading leaving my sleeping bag. I laid in it until around 6:30a. waiting for my friends to wake up. When it was clear my friends were not going to wake up any time soon I packed up anyways. When I was about to leave a little after 7am, they finally woke up to say good bye. They didn’t want to leave camp either.

The first thing I did was cross a gushing river. It was so fast and deep I was a little scared and worried about doing it alone but I made it across. Originally I tried to cross on a large fat log. It was so slippery I ended up changing my mind and fording the river. I really didn’t want to get all wet and cold first thing in the morning. However, later on I would realize that didn’t matter.

I continued hiking uphill through the wet forest until I came out into some more alpine meadows. The rain was making everything really pretty until it just kept getting colder and eventually turned to snow. The snow kept coming down harder and harder until it was accumulating and blowing sideways. Eventually I couldn’t even see the trail. I pulled out my map on my phone and saw that I could follow a forest service road to a campground that the trail crosses through. I started walking up the muddy road slipping left and right. I was jealous of my friends who decided to stay in their sleeping bags a little longer. I also hoped that they didn’t leave at all because the weather was so awful. The whole time I was trudging up the muddy road in the snow storm I was getting colder and colder. I realized I didn’t have the gear I needed to deal with active heavy wet snow. I wish I had gloves, my rain pants, and a pair of pants. All of which I had waiting for me in the next town in a box. I was considering bailing off at the next road crossing or setting up camp at the campground in 10 miles. I knew that if I kept hiking past the highway the snow situation was only going to get worse because the trail kept going higher up in elevation.

When I finally made it to the campground, it was closed but I ran to the first pit toilet I saw to see if I could shelter inside. It was open! I stayed inside trying to warm up for a while while making a decision about what to do. When I finally decided to keep hiking through the rest of the campground I got a message from Free Fall on my In Reach Satellite phone. They were a couple miles behind me also road walking because they couldn’t see the trail. I was excited they did leave camp! I let them know I would wait for them in the pit toilet. About two hours after I got there, 12 Pack, Jenga, and Free Fall all arrived soaking wet, miserable, and cold just like me. They all wanted to either bail at the highway or stay the night at the campground. We knew we couldn’t keep hiking up the mountain if the blizzard was still going on.

It was yet another situation we were in where we had to make a difficult decision. Luckily Free Fall had cell service to help us figure out what other hikers decided to do and how far we were from a town. After discussing all of our options, our friend Revolt who hiked with us earlier in the trail offered to come pick us up. He lives in the first trail town we will hike to in Colorado! It turns out we weren’t the only hikers who had to call someone to come bail them off the trail.

While we were waiting for Revolt, we made lunch in the pit toilet. Hot ramen noodles gave everyone a little bit of relief from the cold. When we finally saw Revolt I was so happy! He picked us up in his Jeep and drove us to Chama. He said he was already thinking about us today when he saw the storm up by his home and heard the storm warnings. He left almost immediately after we called him.

It was about an hour drive to Chama. We found a hotel for the night and got dinner with Revolt at a bar called Fosters. The rest of the night I spent relaxing in bed and doing some chores including drying out all of my things.

When we got to town there were a ton of hikers that we haven’t met before. All of them were waiting for the snow in Colorado to melt out and for more gear to arrive. The conditions ahead seem pretty gnarly at the moment. We know of only one single hiker who has made it past Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird