Around 6, I was awake packing up my things at the campground. I took a morning shower and put on my already stinky hiking shirt. We made our way with our packs to the cafeteria for one last breakfast. We of course took a lot longer than we planned as we ended up eating our own lunch at the picnic table near the cafeteria. A huge branch fell off a tree almost onto Chocolate Chipmunks pack. Luckily, she wasn’t sitting there anymore. It could of been a trip ender. Paperweight and I ordered snowshoes after hearing how hard the first section of Colorado would include lots of post holing. Another big expense I didn’t plan on, but a lifetime purchase. The four of began the hike out a bit after 2. Whoops. We walked past a few neat building then began crossing the river over and over. We found blue markers on the trees that we followed up and out of the canyon. The climb was tough especially since it was the warmest part of the day. I struggled feeling like I was crawling. My shoulder hurts already! I took my time admiring the beautiful mesas all around. I’m going to miss New Mexico. We all took a snack break at the top of the climb where the trail joins a dirt road. Lots of noisy cows! We came to a huge group going crazy! It was unreal the sounds they made as I admired a white with black spots quite the unique cow! We crossed a cattle guard and dipped back onto a trail for a bit before hitting a forest road again. We had a nice view of the Colorado’s snowy peaks as we found a campsite back on a trail overlooking an epic view. As we ate dinner, the town lights began to turn on surprising me at how close we were to civilization even though it was miles away. A nice short day, but we finally made it out!
We lost Nightwatch this morning since he was out of water last night he got an early start. Paperweight and I cruised along towards the water source taking our time. We took a long break there watching chipmunks munch on dandelions and basking in the warm sun. The water was straight from a pipe so I didn’t even filter. Favorite type of water source! The day was mostly hiking along former and not often used two lane roads. We managed to get off trail twice since things aren’t marked. A few extra steps, but the hiking was easy and beautiful. We had a long lunch break as usual and my partner who is a physical therapist did some manual therapy on my shoulder. He’s working on diagnosing me and fixing my issues. It felt great! We continued to move along passing more gravel then a trail followed by a sketchy water crossing too. We passed a strange section of lots of cut aspen trees and a deserted campground. We threw away trash and even used a privy! A few more miles to a nice campsite where the three of us set up and drifted to sleep.
The three of us woke up around 7 happy to have the sun shinning down on us. We all did the usual morning chores of packing up the inside of your tent, eating breakfast, drying out the condensation on our tents, filtering water, and finding a place to dig a hole! Within an hour we were all packed up and walking north along the gravel muddy road. Chocolate chipmunk got a head start and we didn’t catch up to her until lunch. The two of us cruised along the road jumping puddles and stepping carefully around the rocks. We can still see the high mountains of Colorado covered in snow calling our names. We walked a bit over 4 miles to a stream flowing across the trail where we took a close to an hour long break. Surrounded by large aspens and pines and the sound of flowing water has me so happy! We are officially done with the desert of New Mexico I believe! The trail continued on the road as a truck bounced down the trail towards us we jumped to the side of the road avoiding the mud. We said hello and as we looked back they had got themselves stuck. We laughed as a little ways up the road it warned people that the road was no maintained! We continued on mostly uphill sweating and admiring the lush green forest surrounding us. Took a water break then was happy to find a CDT marker leading us onto a trail. We cruised even faster being on a real trail again busting the miles towards our lunch break spot. We were talking loudly when we saw a man and a few other people coming towards us. He informed us there was a large group and they were walking in silence so don’t be offended if they did not say hello. A few said hello as we waited a few minutes as they climbed uphill passing us. The last five took a break letting us cruise downhill towards a river crossing. Rio Vallecitos had a nice log across the river that we easily walked. We joined Chocolate Chipmunk for a break with lots of flies harassing us all. They prefer our feet mostly! Yuck! I cooked using Paperweight’s stove for lunch. I had two tortillas with rice and black beans, cheese, and hot sauce. I may of burnt my fingers a bit ouch! Not used to an alcohol stove. I need to do this more often as I felt so great busting out the next three miles uphill listening to music in under an hour. A water fill up and moving along. The sky turned dark and thunder roared. I waited for him to catch up as we debated our plan. We choose to duck under the nearest and only tree nearby as the rain began to fall. Then came the hail and more roaring lightning and thunder. We made the right choice instead of climbing uphill where there were few trees we found shelter. We basically huddled okay we cuddled under a tree keeping each other warm as the rain and hail pounded down. We waited 45 minutes as it passed over and the blue skies returned as we climbed upward. It’s all about timing as it would of been almost a mile without a good tree to seek shelter under. After the rain, the smell of the forest is unbelievable. I was also pleased to see two deer. One ran along side me for a bit stopping allowing me to take a photo. I cruised along in the lush meadows slipping around in the mud. I had a moment! So fortunate to be out here and so in love with the scenery. We cruised together the last 4ish miles towards a campground. The trail was soaked from the snow melt off so in the last two minutes of hiking our dry shoes became soaked again. We picked out a campsite number 20 to be exact throwing our stuff onto a picnic table. Trash can, a privy, and water made this a perfect site. Being a Saturday night there were kids screaming, fires burning, a few gunshots in the distance, and other unfamiliar trail sounds. We relaxed at the table as a bigger group arrived at the site next to us playing loud music and such. Maybe this wasn’t the best place to camp, but too late now. Lying in my tent listening to random tunes late into the evening as it drizzles and lightning flash in the sky.
I was pleased to use a privy in the morning. We followed Guthook’s app to get out of the campground. We ended up taking a road to be surprised to see a trail marker at the exit of the lake. So again we did extra miles for no real reason. Just continuous footsteps! We crossed the road and passed a bin of trail magic full of empty soda cans and trash. Along the trail we went to a small field will silly switchbacks up an already easy to walk hill. Maybe it was for the snow melt? Pretty random I thought. We ran into Dragon and Deco along the way as well. A nice road walk led to a great water source for a quick break. More moving along towards the snowy Colorado mountains. I saw a prairie dog hanging out by his hole. He even posed for us. What cute little creatures! We had a long break at the end stream where we caught up to Chipmunk. After she left, a large aspen tree crashed down bringing a few others with it right off the trail. It’s all about timing! It sprinkled as we rushed the last few miles towards the planned campground. Lots of herds of elk roaming the land. We can across a fawn as the mother ran away. It stood up slowly and wobbly being just a few days old possibly. It started to walk towards Paperweight as we hurried by! We almost camped at the lower Lagunitas campground since it was sprinkling, but we did the extra bit uphill where Chipmunk was set up. We quickly set up and the rain stopped. We enjoyed dinner at a picnic table looking down on the elk drinking from the pond. The sky turned dark again and we quickly ran back to our tents just as we had finished dinner. Lightning struck nearby and as usual I slept like a baby. Not even hearing the mouse that would chew two holes in my tent attempting to get my food.
Stupid mouse! Good think tonight will be my last night with this tent. Paperweight and I are moving into a 2 person tent saving us both almost a pound and keeping each other warm in Colorado. I’ll have to sew it back up when the trail is done. We climbed up to a ridge walk that blew my mind! We walked for miles staring out at vacation homes in the distance. What a view! I love northern New Mexico. We took a break at a scenic outlook staring at Colorado. Looks terrifying! The views today were epic and a fell of what is to come. We had lunch at a stream staring at the clouds growing darker. We hurried along towards the uphill climb of the day. We hit snow and lost the trail completely. Footprints led in every direction and there were few markers. We climbed upward postholing and covering a mile in an hour. Soaked feet as many times my foot would sink through the snow into a cold river. I was miserable. Luckily I have a cheerful hiking partner. We were almost to the top when thunder and lightning pounded. To be safe we did not climb up any farther, but used our gps to find a connecting dirt road. We hurried down sinking to thigh deep at times. We hit the road as it was pouring so we jumped down farther hiding in the trees. I got cold quickly as we saw lightning strike near the top of the peak we were supposed to be on. This ain’t a walk in the woods! The rain let up and back on the road we went going as quickly as possibly over two miles to the point we dropped back into the trees. The hiker only got harder here as I post holed once into a down log slamming my shin hard. I even slid a bit catching myself and bending back my pinky! So many injuries and obstacles. Climbing over so many down trees, stepping in snow melt rivers, and avoiding getting hit in the face by branches. I felt like we were making no progress at all. We found a stream where we filled up and started to look for a campsite. I was exhausted as we found no good spots we just continued onward nearing our second state. I shook off all the stress of today and reflected on New Mexico. I saw more wildlife in this state than all 17 other states I’ve thru hiked in. I’ve seen more weather and lots less thru hikers. I have embraced the unexpected challenges. I am fully enchanted by New Mexico and hope to return someday. We turned a corner and found a fence separating the two states. Someone made a NM and CO marker with sticks that we walked right over. I had to repair CO for our photo. We made it!! We connected every footstep. We took 6 zero days and too many neros in and out of town to keep track of. It was an exhausting day, but rewarding. The first view from Colorado blew my mind as I stared at lush green trees, lakes, and snowy peaks! We walked along looking for a site and ended up getting off trail again! We found our way back to the trail climbing through more snow piles to a nice site to enjoy the sunset. We both set up our matching one person Six Moon Design tents for the first and last time in Colorado. The sky exploded in beautiful colors as I spent my first night ever in the new state of Colorado.
1.1 miles to Cumbress Pass, CO where we hitch into Chama, NM! So we make it to Colorado, but get to go back to New Mexico. That’s alright with me that means more green chili! We were pretty slow packing up today. I went through my pack finding lots of things to just send home since heavier snow gear awaits me in town. We got moving and spent most of the time taking pictures and admiring the elk. We had to cross a few snowy patches, but nothing like yesterday. We quickly crossed the road and put out our thumbs. The first vehicle to drive by was a huge mountain tour bus. It took 10 minutes for the next vehicle to come and it was Ricky from Texas who stopped and drove us into town. He has been staying in his RV in Chama for a while and seen lots of hikers. We were the first two he picked up this season. He dropped us off by the post office as we decided to get breakfast first where we ran into Deco and Dragon. They got in yesterday afternoon right before the storm came. We ate then went to the PO. I got my two boxes from mom, but our orders from Amazon were missing. Paperweight would spend a few hours this afternoon and evening on the phone with UPS. It was ridiculous! We walked over a mile toward the cheapest motel at the end of the town. The owner of the Trading Post ran outside and offered us both a NM bandana. We saw him again at the High Country Saloon which he also owns. He bought us each a round of beer too! We got a room at the Y motel for $48. Nothing nice, but it would do! Did the typical town chores followed by beers, dinner, and sleeping with a pillow!700 plus miles vs new shoes
We took a zero day in Chama, NM spending most of our time lounging in our hotel room at the Y. I loved Fina’s Diner and specifically the green chili breakfast burrito with a little American flag sticking out of it. We got all of our chores done so we could drink a few beers and relax. The mystery of the snowshoes were solved early as we learned they were at the Post Office all along with a different name on the label. Nice job UPS! Note: when ordering from Amazon write General Delivery and the address to the post office next to it. We headed up the road and got a hitch with the owner of one of the nicer hotels in town. He had loaned his other car to another hiker named Boat who we met at the post office and brought us back to our hotel. A new pair of snowshoes for $190 ek! I hope to get a lot of use out of them. Another great meal at the Saloon this evening as we packed up planning to leave tomorrow afternoon.
Chocolate Chipmunk had the same problem with Amazon/ UPS, but her gear for mailed to a girl in Santa Fe with the same name! What? So Paperweight, Nightwatch, and I didn’t want to leave her behind so we debated what to do. We went into the office and talked to the owner Anne where she offered us a free room number 11. It had four beds and a kitchen. She doesn’t want anyone to hike alone. So with a free stay we all bought a six pack, snacked, lounged, and then went to the Saloon for another delicious meal. The owner bought us each another beer maybe we will stay here forever! Bringing the total to 8 zeros in New Mexico.