Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Chama to Del Norte

Again I woke up way too early on a day I could have slept in. Chopsticks, Pack Runner and Free Will came downstairs at 6am heading to breakfast and then back up to Cumbres Pass to hike the high route. I was a bit jealous as this is the route I had always wanted to take but there is just still too much snow for my comfort or my enjoyment. I’d rather enjoy everyday of this hike than know I’m going to have to stress over any section. 

After they left I decided another shower was a great idea and shortly after TBD was up and ready to go for breakfast. After breakfast we took our time packing up and headed to the taco place to get burritos to pack out. Then we stuck our thumbs out to get a ride up to Cumbres Pass. Our first hitch got us across town and our second hitch got us right to the trailhead. We stopped to eat the burritos and while we were there someone pulled over to ask if we needed a ride down. We said no thanks and just as they pulled away we heard noises from above. If only we had chatted a little more with the driver we could have got a ride down for Beaver, Potato and Young Energy who were just coming down the trail. We started our green line road walk stopping to the pictures every once in awhile. About five miles in we stopped beside the road for a break. I was wanting a drink but knew I had to make my half a litre last another eight miles. Just then a car pulled up and out popped Tumbleweed with two blueberry coolers! Thanks Tumbleweed! I ended up drinking most of them as TBD didn’t want much of hers. We saw the train go by and then it was time to continue down the road. We were surrounded by green mountains and were joking about what our friends who went higher were encountering. Our plan was to get about thirteen miles down the road to a place that allows hikers and bikers to pitch their tents. We arrived pretty close to when they close but they told us we could run a tab and take our time. TBD found vegan ice cream right away and I went for a root beer. As we were sitting on the porch eating and drinking Shua pulled up on his bicycle. He lives in Canmore and is riding the divide. The store owners were closing up just as Shua’s friend Brad arrived and they reopened and gave him time to order food. This place is awesome! We all sat around a table chatting about our different trail/ road experiences until the bugs arrived and it was time to set up our tents. Even though this was a road walk it has been a really nice day! 

The next day we woke up early and it was cold. I packed up quickly and waited for TBD. We were wearing our jackets and gloves when we started out and I was surprised how long it stayed cool but when it warmed up, it was unbearable! I was so overheated! Even though it was an easy road walk and the scenery was absolutely beautiful by the time we got to Platoro I was done! We even had trail magic along the way when someone stopped and offered us water and Gatorade. The owner of Gold Pan also stopped and offered us a ride but we told him we were heading there and would walk. Gold Pan is a very hiker friendly place! We thought we would be setting up the tent but we were offered a full cabin. They had dinner ready for anybody who was there (nothing vegan tonight) and the store was on the honour system. We just wrote down what we took and will pay when we leave. We walked in and several hikers we had met on our last southbound section were there playing Mario. I was so overheated that it took me a few minutes to even decide what I wanted. I downed a few drinks and then heard some of the other hikers stories. One guy had started up on the high route, had a disaster of a day and turned around and is on the green route. Another had a strange allergic reaction and got vertigo and decided to also take the green. 

It was nice to wake up in the cabin and realize I didn’t need o get up early. I slept in till 7am and then headed over to get coffee. Shadow and Little Spoon were already up and soon everyone was eating breakfast. KJ made us a pan of home fries. It was perfect! TBD was trying to forward our mail drop in Pagosa Springs to Salida because Elwood Pass still had too much snow. There won’t be any cars up there to give us a hitch down to Pagosa Springs so we will just keep hiking to the next town. She finally got through and our package wasn’t even there yet. We will check on it when we get to Del Norte.  We packed up, paid, said goodbye and headed up the road. It was a day of up! We were heading up to Elwood Pass so it was a surprise when after a few miles we started going way down. Everything was beautiful but I knew that for every step down I took there would be at least two steps up. We ended up stopping for lunch at the bottom near a river. Well, we took water from the river and then after using it learned that it was probably contaminated with heavy metals as there is a superfund site nearby. Anyway, we started back up taking short breaks in the shade. We saw snow but didn’t have to step on it till right near the top. I’m sure in another day or two the road will be drivable. We got to the junction where the trail either goes up to the red line or down on a blue line. We took the blue line and stopped at the first sunny spot for dinner. The sun was already low in the sky and we were still surrounded by snow or wet, muddy grass. We had to get down lower so we could find a decent place to set up for the night. A mile later I found the perfect spot. TBD was behind me and she thought something was wrong because she has never seen me turn around on the trail and go back up a hill. lol! The tent was set up and we were in our sleeping bags and there is still light outside! 

In the morning it wasn’t too cold (ok I should have started out with my gloves on) so we packed up right away and headed to a stream to get water. We would be hiking by an old Gold mine (Summerville mine) today and we wouldn’t be able to trust the water for miles.  TBD filtered the best water we’ve had so far and we headed toward the mine. We were starting out from over 11,500ft and heading to a lower route so I was surprised when we got

to the green line and there was a big climb.  We saw the abandoned buildings at the mine and the new buildings the superfund workers were using and then there was another climb. It went on forever. At one point TBD said it’s going to go down soon (because it looked like we were near the top) but that must have only been the halfway point. At the top there was snow (we could easily walk around the snow) and then the down began! 

We spent  most of the day going down, down, down.  It was hot in the sun but soon there was cloud cover and we cruised along. We stopped for a break and realized we were both low on water. Luckily we were only a mile from a creek and when we got there, we realized that there was still enough sunlight to hike to the next town if we wanted to. We took minimal water and started 11.5 paved road walk to Del Norte.  My feet were sore, my knees were sore, I distracted myself by making a few phone calls. At one point there was a thunderstorm ahead but we didn’t get wet! Finally when I thought I couldn’t take another step we arrived in Del Norte. Our first stop was Family Dollar to buy cold drinks and then the only restaurant/bar still open in town where we were offered veggie burgers and fries. The veggie burgers weren’t on the menu and TBD said that she had been imagining a surprise delicious meal waiting for us. It was perfect! Del Norte allows hikers to sleep in a park in the edge of town (we were supposed to check in at City Hall but it wasn’t open this late) so we headed there late and were in the tent by 10pm. When TBD totalled today’s miles I couldn’t believe it! 33.1 miles! I think that’s might be a new record for me.

Day 40.     12.7 miles/20.4km

Day 41.     23 miles/37km

Day 42.    15.7 miles/25.2km

Day 43.    33.1 miles/53.2

746  miles/1200.5km so far!


“If you are always trying to be  normal, you will never know how amazing you  can be.”         Maya Angelou


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