DAY 44: ICE AXE

5 miles hiked
705.6 total miles

It’s a long 5 mile morning traversing wolf creek ski area. When we get to the pass, I’m more than ready for town. I spend the last half mile hiking like a bowlegged cowboy because my inner thigh chaffe is so bad. We hitchhike to Pagosa, and Ddubs and I get a ride from a man who lives in Tucson. We have great conversation about the city, the CDT, eachothers’ lives; it’s one of those rides where you feel like you’ve met a long lost friend. In Pagosa, we line our packs up on the sidewalk and sit in dwindling shade, gorging on asian fusion tacos. Soon, my dad and brother, Isaac (who’s name, the foreigners note, sounds vaguely like ‘ice axe’) arrive to whisk us off to my dad’s cabin an hour’s drive away. They are amazing and I am so grateful, but lord, also so not ready for the paternal drama. We stop to resupply and it’s hectic. Finally in the evening we arrive at the cabin, where good company, burgers, beer and wine end the day right.

Advertisements

DAY 43: MELTDOWN

17 miles hiked
700.6 total miles

Today is cold and begins with snow travel. I almost appreciate the slow going on snow because it gives me a chance to take in the beautiful views. The snow gives way and we make good progress before lunch, eventually stopping by a creek to partake in the daily stuffing of faces and dozing. Soon after, we begin a long descent and the sky turns overcast. We can see wolf creek ski area in the distance. So close but so far. The afternoon is full of bad narrow tread and a horrific amount of blowdowns across steep slopes, forcing precarious navigation. I keep scraping my legs on the downed trees, not to mention my chaffe is bad today. The final straw is a branch that rips my shorts, exposing my commando ass cheeks for all to see. I lose my shit and announce I’m taking the easy bail out route to wolf creek pass, rather than continuing up and over the ski area in this mess. My compadres are very understanding. We continue on, but right before the bail out point I have an epiphany: this is the fucking CDT man, no one ever said it was going to be easy, I gotta woman the fuck up and embrace the brutality. I announce I will join the rest of the group on the harder route. To my surprise, they cheer. The CDT, so full of ups and downs, literally and figuratively.

DAY 42: COLD BUTTS

14.2 miles hiked
683.6 total miles

I am the first out of my tent in the morning and I notice small flakes of snow falling from dark clouds above. Uhoh. But soon the clouds clear, and we climb up and then down, and soon there’s a large snowfield covering the trail. Candyman, Ddubs and I break out our ice axes and glissade down the slope. Funnnn! (Except I can’t feel my butt at the end.) The remainder of the day is slow going with lots each of postholing through snow, slipping on mud, and bushwhacking. Up, down, up, down in elevation. New Mexico did not prepare my lungs. But god, the views! I am happy to be back in the San Juans.

DAY 41: TUNDRA MUSH

17.5 miles hiked
669.4 total miles

We press on and up in the morning, still not much snow. The views increase in glory and height. The snow does not. So we take a 2 hour lunch break, yardsale-style (pictured). Immediately after lunch, the snow cover increases. A lot. We spend the rest of the day intermittently postholing through snow drifts. Cold night air and sharp winds descends early. I set up my tarp on top of old cow shit and spongy tundra, between beetlekill hazard trees and snow banks. My feet are very cold. The San Juans are no joke.

DAY 38: SLOPE DOPED

18 miles hiked
636.2 total miles

Today we cross the border into Colorado. I am exhausted in the morning because I slept on a sloped surface, too sloped. I woke up all night. Maybe part of it had to do with hiking 30 miles yesterday. Either way, some caffeine does the trick and the afternoon is full of the promise of Colorado (a new state!) and entering into the infamous San Juan Mountains. The San Juans are my old tromping grounds, where I grew up camping, fishing, hiking, and backpacking with my family. They were my escape from the mundaneness of small town New Mexico. As I cross the border, I think (and write) that I have once more escaped the entrapment of the Land of Enchantment, though this time there is a twinge of sadness at leaving a rediscovered beauty. Upon arriving to Cumbres Pass, we stick out our thumbs and the first car that passes pulls over! We are living the town life in Chama in no time.

DAY 37: FIRST 30

30 miles hiked
618.2 total miles

Ddubs, Gallant, and I decide we want to hike 30 miles today. We knock off 15 by lunch. A few miles after lunch, I meet up with Ddubs, and we are concerned because Gallant is nowhere to be found. Later, we cook dinner and wait around at a campground for him. 5 miles left. We leave eventually, because otherwise we’ll have to hike in the dark. Down the road, a camper says he saw Gallant pass by earlier. How did we miss him? I hope he has set up camp where we had all agreed to end the day. 3 miles later, we find Gallant with camp set up, 2 miles shy of 30. He has started a fire, because he saw 2 bears. Sometime I don’t follow his logic. I tell him I am pressing on 2 more miles. I scramble off to an exposed campsite at some 11,000ft. Ddubs convinces him to press on too. They put the fire out, and show up in the dark to my windy perch on the mountainside. We all pass the fuck out.

DAY 36: I AM A THIRD GRADER

25 miles hiked
588.2 total miles

The morning starts off shaky. There are trails and two track forest service roads leading everywhere, and I get off-trail more than once. I also trip over a branch and fall flat on my face. This is enough to throw me into temper tantrum territory. “I am a child, a third grader,” I think to myself. The afternoon is much better. We meet some new hikers and leap frog them, all of us settling down together for the night in a large meadow at the top of a long climb.