After four days off in Chama, Katie’s blistered feet were finally feeling good enough to walk. We were thrilled to begin our hike in Colorado. Trail Angel Ralph was nice enough to give us a ride to the trail, and we were on our way.
We hiked about 16 miles from the trail head and made camp for the night preparing for the storms in the next day’s forecast. We left from camp early to an eerie colored sky. We only hiked two miles before the sky opened up hitting us with ice pellets. Sean made the quick call to pitch the tent we had just packed up. At 12,000 ft, weather is completely unpredictable and unforgiving. We waited in the tent cat napping while anticipating the storm to break at any moment. Ice, hail, and rain took their turns pounding our tent as we waited thankful to be dry. Noon came and went. Then two. Then four.
At about 4:30, the clouds slightly broke giving us a brief moment to exit the tent. We hit the sides of the tent to release the icey buildup. We debated packing up to move on, but didn’t trust the look of the clouds still lingering in the sky. We made our dinner just in time before the rain started again. We retreated back to our tent knowing we weren’t going anywhere for the night. We struggled to sleep through the night considering our long idle day, but we were grateful to be dry and ready to hike the next day.
When we awoke, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We were overjoyed to be surrounded by mountains and eager to be on our way. But as always, if it’s not one thing slowing you down, it’s another. Today was our first day to deal with what snow still remained in the mountains. Frankly, we picked one of the lowest snow years on record for Southern Colorado, so I shouldn’t complain. But I’m just not that into snow. We hiked all day crossing occasional snow fields and trying to enjoy the spectacular views. The sun was setting just as we arrived at camp completely exhausted from our 23 mile day.
The next morning was much the same, climbing between 10 and 12,000 ft with occasional snow fields. We didn’t use the microspikes we had purchased, but maybe I should have. A couple passes had me hoping I wouldn’t be found dead at the bottom spikes in pack. Of course, we made it through unscathed.
We decided to pass on the opportunity to head to Pagosa Springs as we had already elected to take the lower Creede alternate. We had two big days ahead of us before we would walk into the small mountain town. Thankfully, the snow passes were behind us as we headed northward. However, challenges still presented themselves as the alternate route was littered with blow downs. We tried to navigate what little trail there was tearing up our beat up shoes and leaving our gaiters in shreds. Thankfully, the blow downs only lasted a couple miles before a real trail emerged, and we were on our way.
We pushed hard to get into Creede trying to make up for our long days off in Chama. We impressed ourselves by completing 22 miles by 2:00 and celebrated at a local bar with $1 pints.
As the sun was setting, we headed out of Creede looking for a place to pitch our tent. We passed a friendly couple sitting in their garage and asked if they knew where we could set up camp. Instantly, they offered us a beer and a place to sleep in their mountain vacation home. So awesome!!
Todd and Jodi were the most incredible unsuspecting trail angels. They welcomed us into their home, provided showers, and even took us for our first ATV ride. The next morning, we rejoined the official CDT route at San Luis Pass. We were now back in familiar territory as the CDT and Colorado Trail coincide at this point. We walked on remembering our 2016 Colorado Trail adventure.
On this last push into Salida, we worked really hard to up our daily walking average with the hopes of possibly finishing the trail in early September. We’ve been trying to hike 25-30 miles per day and get in and out of towns and avoid the vortex. Like today in Salida – showers, laundry, resupply, food, and this blog all done in four hours! Off we go 👣🌲🗻🌎