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Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’

Since we had woken up at 4am and hiked all day, we planned to stop at sunset again to allow ourselves to catch up on sleep again. We had seen another spot around 11,000 feet on the map and were aiming for that before we soared up to another set of ridgelines. At that point, 11,000 feet had begun to seem low.

All four of us hiked slightly different paces toward the end of the day and had spread out a bit before camp. About a mile before the spot we wanted to check out for campsites, I saw a trail split. Remembering that we no longer had the Colorado Trail with it’s signs, wide trail, and easy grades, I stopped and checked Guthook to make sure. A well trod path extended slightly to the right and a spur broke off the to left and looked distinctly less traveled. I knew we were supposed to stay contouring for a bit and the well traveled path looked like it went straight down into the valley. Sure enough, Guthook noted a junction and that we needed to stay left on the less noticeable trail.

I plodded along and found Crosby sitting on his pack by a water source reading a book. I sat for a bit and we found ED, but no Memphis. Continuing to the spot we thought about camping, we found good spots and set up. Still no Memphis.

E.D.: Do you think he took the wrong turn back there?

Me: Maybe, that was not an easy one to catch.

Crosby: Memphis would like sitting down at a fire if he did take the wrong turn. Let’s get one going.

Campfire

We set about doing so, got it going and began eating when we saw his blaze orange hunting vest draped over his pack. We “cooed” to get his attention and he beelined for the fire. He plopped down.

Memphis: I went down that horse trail back there. I went…down. About 1,000 feet down.

The sky changed colors as the sun went down over the ridge and we eventually migrated to our tents and I convinced everyone to get up early again to make the miles we needed to get to the road at a decent time. We had contacted Karla, per Karma’s recommendation, and given her a day that we should get to Wolf Creek Pass, but we hadn’t had any cell service to give a more accurate ETA.

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The other side of the sunset from the campfire.

In the morning, we all got up a little slower, but started hiking upward immediately again. We hiked along a ridge and crept up to the highest point left in this section and sat to watch the sunrise. The whole sky and tree cover below had an orange glow. It seemed magical. It got more magical when we noticed we had several bars of cell service and LTE.

Good morning!

Right as I was wondering if 6:15 am was too early to message Karla, she messaged me. We gave her an ETA at the pass and she said either she or Mark would be there and to keep her updated.

We also got an email from Frodo who was organizing a finishing party for Scout in Chama the following evening. She said she’d be willing to come get us from Pagosa Springs and drop us back off. We responded back with a “yes, please!”

Last but not least, I found texts from The Darkness. It read:

The Darkness: I’m Creede Cut-Offing for you all. See you somewhere around Wolf Creek Pass or Chama at the latest.

We texted back our plan while we let the sunrise warm us. The trail meandered down and all around smaller ridges, a few lakes, and then went tantalizingly close to the road, but not down to Wolf Creek Pass for several miles.

At the bottom of the pass, we found a cooler with sodas. We had one while we waited for Mark to pick us up. We did not have to wait long and Mark didn’t even seem to mind our smell! He knew we would want food first and suggested the Mexican restaurant in town. Karla met us there and we all ate plenty of delicious food.

They took us home and let us shower and helped us with laundry. It was such a nice change to be in a house instead of our go to cheap motels. It was topped off by sleeping in the man-cave and some a-mazing pancakes in the morning! It’d be hard to beat the trail magic from Karla and Mark.

Karla brought us over to Riff Raff Brewery where we found Axel and Let It Be having a beer. We joined while we waited for Frodo. After a group picture and big hugs from Karla, we all jumped in Benny, the van Frodo was using up and down the CDT.

Photo Credit: Axel

She brought us to a motel in Chama where we found Scout, Whistle (who we hadn’t seen since Lincoln, MT around mile 300), Guy-on-a-buffalo, Apache, and Wonderer. So much of Scout and Frodo’s family joined and it was a fantastically supportive group of people. We were later joined by Ridgerunner and K2 as well who had finished their flip a few days prior.

There was dinner, cake, root beer floats, and some beer. Scout and Frodo were so gracious to come get us, too. A lot of us stayed up late talking and were a little slow to move in the morning. We did eventually figure out rides for who needed to get where and were unsuccessful at convincing Whistle to take several zeros and wait for us.

When we got dropped off back at Wolf Creek Pass, we realized The Darkness had skipped town there and had gotten about 5-7 miles ahead of us. After some quick texting back and forth with a horrible picture of a dead creature on the side of the trail, we had a plan.

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The group left Bob’s cabin at varying times, Scallywag, E.D., and I were the last to trickle out a little after five pm. We followed Straight Creek instead of hiking a mile back to the trail, then over Elbow Pass. Straight Creek was pretty, although very burned and didn’t go over the steep pass.
Chatting along the way, we stopped to eat dinner around 7, then looked for the next “campsite,” or really just a flatish spot. Not too long after, we crossed a creek and were in a burned meadow. We were tired, our buzz had worn off, and it was almost 9pm…hiker midnight.
We found a campsite in what seemed like the only living trees for miles, but it had flooded and squishy moss had grown. We instead found a spot where most of the snags had already fallen and camped there hoping a tree wouldn’t fall on us.
Waking up, no dead trees had fallen on us, so we left thankfully. We followed the river for awhile, then another creek when about 10-12 miles in and me taking about fireweed for awhile, we found another cabin with a privy whose seat moved if you shifted your weight wrong.
There we found The Darkness who had gone about 12 miles out of Benchmark when we had only done about 6. She was beat from pushing herself to reach Rogers Pass where her boyfriend Mikhail planned to meet her. It was hot again. The horse flies were out. Apparently they hurt so bad because they don’t bite, but rather suck the blood up through your skin. Nasty buggers. We’ve been trying to kill every one we can. Luckily, they are not the fastest of creatures.
We continued down the Dearborn River to where Ley makes three routes with a note that just basically calls the area confusing. It wasn’t hard following Guthook. Plus, someone had pulled an AT move of throwing some sticks across the trail you should not take. Classic.
Patch caught back up to us and told us another crazy tale of going on sketchy parts of the Divide. Crossing our deepest ford yet, the water rose to just above my knee braces, but the current wasn’t strong. It was just cold and wet. Then the doozy came. We had to climb about 2,500ft up and now water would become more scarce. We really haven’t had to carry more than a liter the whole time until now.
 I saved the tunes for the crazy shit we were about to do. I put on some electronic music and was going uphill at a steady pace. E.D. was right ahead of me when she stopped about half way up the first part of the climb. I paused to see what she was looking at…a spine lay to the side off the trail with no other bones around and the trail was covered in dark brown and white hair. It looked as through maybe a cat had jumped down and killed a moose or elk. No skull to tell.
The second part of the climb looked steeper. It still had switchbacks, but the gradient of them was getting more drastic. It was past dinner time. I ate a bar and kept plugging. Of course, when we got to the “top” it kept going up doing a ridge for another half mile, but at least it became less steep. We passed Amy and Jerry and Amy was limping badly from blisters.
We started to descend into a small basin with a tiny spring, a tiny creek, and a big meadow. Flatish. Awesome. Meadow will be dewy, but at least flatish. A Swiss couple named Jeanine and Patrick were already camped there and graciously shared space.
Eating dinner away from our tents at 9pm, it seemed like all our brains had fried from the heat and exhaustion. With nowhere to hang our food, we all decided just to sleep with it that night.
The next morning from within our tents, we began the morning conversation topics: the upcoming day, food, poop etc.
E.D.: “How many miles do we have to Rogers Pass?”

Scallywag: “24”

The Darkness: “No…21!”

Me: “It’s 24…”

The Darkness: “I counted the numbers on Ley’s maps and it says 21.”

Scallywag: “Guthook says 24.”

The Darkness: “Damn.”
The Swiss couple began laughing at us.
I let the air out of my neoair. Hissss.
E.D.: “Noooo.”

Scallywag: “The sound of motivation.”

The Darkness: “Whyyyyy?”
We did manage to get hiking by 8am, which had been late for us. We immediately had to climb another 1,000 feet. Steeply. No switchbacks. It was like the AT climbs, but going up to around 8,000 ft. And it was hot. Well shit. Absolutely beautiful and totally worth it.
The entire day was spent going up and down and over ridges. The tread on my sandals took a beating and I ski/skid down some stuff but didn’t fall. At least not yet. I made a mental note to order new sandals in town.
We met a Canadian named Canacker. He sat at a small lake with us when we loaded up on water. The water had lots of little red macroinvertibrates in it. The Sawyer squeeze took care of them.
The day was hot and the miles went slowly due to steep terrain with epic views. At about 6pm, we hit Lewis and Clark Pass where one could go .4 miles down to water. The Darkness and E.D went down.
We debated about just staying there. It was a “road” but it was definitely a 4×4 road. The Darkness still wanted to meet Mikhail at the pass in 8.3 miles. We decided that we wanted to get at least the next 1,000 foot climb out of the way and camp by a spring or a saddle after the spring in 3 miles. That climb just went straight up. Part way through, a female moose ran across our path. That was cool.

 

On the top, we waited for The Darkness whose feet had blistered horribly. When she got there, she asked if any of us had accidentally grabbed her map. None of us had. Her GPS batteries had died and none of us had AA batteries. Damn. We headed down to the spring scheming about getting her a map.
However, as we ate dinner near the spring at 8 something pm, we realized even with only six miles to go, she probably wouldn’t make it to the pass before 11. The trail had started playing this disappearing act where it would lead into a meadow then disappear and reappear on the other side or disappear in a sea of blowdowns. During the day, a map would be ok, but at night,GPS or Guthook would be significantly easier.
The five of us decided to suck it up and night hike with her to the pass where Mikhail could bring us a gallon of water so we didn’t need to carry extra. Deal. Since we could conveniently see the cell tower, she could text him. He could also watch her spot device which was moderately creepy.
Getting too and from the spring, we hiked out with Guthook trying to find a trail. Then we’d “cooey” when we found it. All of our feet seemed to rebel at the idea of hiking after dinner into the night after such a long ass kicking day, but they did better after a bit. The trail continued with a few more large bumps.
The sun went down, but we knew it’d still be light enough to see until about 10:30. All of us had our headlamps on, but of course they didn’t get turned on until we stumbled too much. We passed a yurt and had to fan out in the dark twice more with Guthook to find the trail. Then all of a sudden a very well trodden trail appeared. A bright orange, but not blood moon came out and lit the way. The trail took us all the way down to Rogers Pass where one car was waiting.
At about 11:45pm…almost actually midnight, well past hiker midnight, we stumbled into the road. Mikhail rushed into his trunk and handed us not only water, but four powerades, two chocolate bars, and two large bags of potato chips saying, “I don’t do what you gotta do, but I do know you need salt.”

“camp “

All four of us sank down to the ground thanking him and devouring chips. After The Darkness and Mikhail headed away, we looked around for a spot to camp and settled on cowboy camping in the middle of the trail because it was the flatest spot.
At: 1:47am a large truck rumbled up. They idled. Two scruffy men got out of the truck. The hood pops. I shift to appear still asleep on my stomach and can peer above my sleeping bag slightly. I look up and E.D.’s eyes bug out. My eyes bug out. We listen. They’re leaking oil. They’re smoking cigarettes and looking under the hood. They realize people are sleeping on the trail fifteen feet away. They turn off the engine and make less noise. They drive away. E.D and I are relieved. Patch and Scallywag slept through it.
In the morning, E.D and Scallywag get a hitch into town first, then Patch and I got a hitch. A young woman turns around to give us a ride out of her way to Lincoln. I get crammed between a six week old baby and a two year old. My backpack goes on my lap and a box of diapers on top. The two year old hands me a book. I read.

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