Monthly Archives: June 2017

CDT: Pagosa Springs, CO to Twin Lakes, CO

I sat in my hotel room in Pagosa Springs with my CDT maps spread across the bed. My eyes followed the thin, red line of the CDT. I heard rumors that the trail ahead would be easier and less sketchy, but I wanted to see what clues my maps would reveal to me. How bad did this look? Did I really want to be up there again in snow?  Sometimes, I could tell the trail would be safe, like sections where the trail followed a high plateau. But then my eyes would focus on sections where the trail followed next to a steep cliff. I tried to imagine what it would be like… Would it be dangerous again?

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I asked myself:

.          Did you enjoy the CDT in the last section?

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Almost immediately, my legs started to shake in fear. The answer was painfully clear.

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I stopped looking at the maps. I already had my answer.. It was time to follow a lower, safer route through Colorado. I would be safer and much happier following the alternate trail at lower elevation.

It ended up being a really enjoyable section for me. But, it was so quiet out there. I only saw 2 CDT hikers, on trail, between Creede and Twin Lakes.   I tried to embrace the alone time. I don’t have to be surrounded by people for the entire trail. So I did my own thing, slept in, hiked late, and ran into plenty of moose along the way. I was safe, and I still had a continuous footpath.

I was happy.

I made it to Twin Lakes last Sunday, and Will came to pick me up. I decided to take a week off trail, so I could wait for my friends to catch up to me. It’s been nice to rest at home, and I have been eating so well this week!

I am excited about heading back to Twin Lakes soon, and hopefully, I will see more than 2 hikers in my next section.    🙂

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CDT: Chama, NM to Pagosa Springs, CO

I said a prayer on the day that I left Chama.  And I prayed every single day that I was on the divide.  I always thought that I was agnostic, but when you’re out there on the side of a steep, snowy mountain, the prayers flow out of you.

My stomach was in knots on the climb up from Chama.  For the last 3 years, I had listened to Will talk about his San Juans experience.  He entered the San Juans in May 2013, and he told me stories of post-holing in snow, only getting 10 mile days, and of freezing at night.

It sounded brutal.

But, of course, I wanted to give it a shot anyway.

I entered the San Juan mountains on June 7th in a record setting snow year for Colorado.  We found the snow to be patchy in places, but the sketchy traverses were frequently covered with snow.  In the morning, it was icy, and by 3pm, it was slushy stuff that crumpled under foot. I constantly prayed that my footing was solid. Everyday, I wore waterproof socks, microspikes, and I clung to my ice-axe like my life depended on it.

I slid off a snowy traverse at one point, and I ran into a tree that was 15 feet down.  It happened so fast.  I sat there, in the snow, for what seemed like forever.  I couldn’t stop shaking.  I looked below me and saw a steep slope that seemed to go on forever.  Going down was not an option.  When I finally calmed down,  I grabbed my ice-axe and kicked foot-holes so I could get back to the trail.  It took 3 hours for my hands to stop shaking.

The next day, I found myself following 2 guys on another steep snowfield.  It finally got so steep that I parked my butt on the trail and slid down when my landing looked safe enough.  It was one of those moments that was fun after you picked yourself up at the bottom and realized that you were safe.

The last few days have taught me a lot.  This was the real deal out here.  I wasn’t Superman.  I could really get hurt.

There are people who love this stuff.  My boyfriend, Will, is one of these people.  I could see him out here, heart pounding, wanting more.  But, I’m not one of those people.  I’m just a girl who wants to walk to Canada.  And I tried my best, but mountaineering isn’t really for me.

It was beautiful to hike the divide, but the conditions are currently too dangerous for me.

The good news is that there is a low elevation route for the next section.  I am excited to explore new parts of Colorado as I walk north through the Creede route.

And maybe I won’t have to pray so much in the next section.  😉

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CDT: Grants, NM to Chama, NM

Just a quick update to let everyone know that I made it to Colorado last night!!   Of course, the trail is already getting significantly harder.  Yesterday, I was lost in a maze of snow and blowdowns for most of the day.  I would check my GPS, get back on trail, and almost immediately get lost again. In the snow, there is no trail.  And trying to stay on trail is a pointless waste of time.  My friend, who left after me, and mostly navigates with maps arrived at camp before me.  I just looked at him when I rolled into camp at 9:15 and laughed.  Sometimes, maps are just better than GPS.   Or maybe I’m just completely hopeless.  🙂

I’m currently in Chama, NM and getting all geared up for the next section.  I have added snowshoes, an ice axe, water-proof socks, microspikes and warmer layers.   My pack is going to weigh a ton tomorrow, but I am excited to hike the snowy San Juans!  

I have a feeling that I am in for the hardest 2 weeks of my life.  I hope that I have what it takes.  


Sorry for the short update, but a girl needs her sleep!!

PS: Thanks to Will/Estero for spending the weekend in Taos with me.  Can’t wait to see you again soon!  ❤

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