CDT Day 37: mile 767.7 to Cumbres Pass, 24.7 miles
CDT Days 38-39: 2 whole days off in Chama!
Total miles: 679.4
We woke up unsure how far we were going to hike. The New Mexico/Colorado border was 21.8 miles away, and then 2.9 miles after that was Cumbres Pass where we needed to hitch to town. It’s not uncommon for us to hike that far in a day, but sometimes we don’t get that far until 7pm and we were unsure about our chances of hitching the 12 miles into town that late. We figure we’d just see how we felt, and took off from camp around 7am. The miles came easily that morning, even during a climb uphill to reach 11,000 feet for the first time on this trip. On the way up we got our first good view of the snow in Colorado.
We played leap frog with the boys (aka Constantine, Fifty, Dirtbag, and Nimbles) for most of the day. The miles kept coming easily, and by lunch time we felt pretty confident we could make it to the pass by 5pm. Things were going smoothly until we hit our last climb up above 11,000 feet. On the way down the north face had lots of patches of heavy wet snow, and lots of blowdowns. It can be easy to go around snow or blowdowns, but both made for slow hiking. We made it through, and finally crossed into Colorado!
The last few miles went quickly, and w made it to Cumbres Pass by 6pm. We were a little unsure about hitching, but we threw our thumbs out and hoped for the best. 40 minutes later only four cars had passed, and no one stopped. The boys came out of the woods to tell us that they were there, but kindly they were going to wait in the woods for us to get a ride. Hiking as a group of 6 isn’t exactly easy! They told us they saw a van in the parking lot a tenth of a mile up the road, and suggested we try to Yogi a ride from them (Yoging is the act of asking someone for something, generally done by striking up a conversation and hopefully having them ask you a question that gives you a great lead-in to you asking them for what you need). There was no one one the van, but a man drove by in a pick-up head out of town and stoped to see if we needed help. We told him we were trying to get to town, and he agreed to take us there despite having just come from there. He even agreed to bring the boys, so we called for them to come down to the road, and we all made it into town. We headed straight for dinner, and this burger was so so good.
We checked into Chama Trails Inn, and settled in for two days off in Chama (which is actually in New Mexico, not Colorado). The first day we spent debating what gear we needed for the upcoming mountains. Although it was a low snow year in the San Juans, there still is snow above 10,000 feet. After consulting a few reports and reading about the few hikers who have entered before us, we decided to go with the microspikes for our shoes we already have and to have ice axes sent to us. Strangely, to have ice axes sent overnight it was cheaper to buy new ones off of Amazon than have the ones we already own sent to us.
We spent our time in town the way most hikers do, lounging around watching TV and eating food. Piglet’s food demands have seemed to be increasing as of late, so I try to eat as many calories as I can in town to help off set the inevitable weight loss that thru-hiking brings. I’m not always able to eat that much, but fortunately in Chama my appetite showed-up and we had a lot of good food. Fina’s Diner was a favorite, she even remembered that I ordered a grapefruit juice the second morning we ate there.
We’re looking forward to entering Colorado, and the new challenges that it will bring. Our ice axes are to allow us to self-arrest if we slip on a snowy traverse (aka to stop us from sliding down a snowy and icy slope). We plan to take it day by day, and town by town, making adjustments to our gear and plans as needed. We loved New Mexico, but are ready for mountains, forests, and ample water. On our last day in New Mexico, Garrett spotted this little guy hiding in a rock pile, and got a great photo of a porcupine. The wildlife should only increase in Colorado!