Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Day 36: Colorado!!

I'm 5/28: mile 775.3-794.8
Miles: 19.5
Total trip miles: 651.8

This morning was rough. It's the lowest I've ever felt on the trail, made worse by the fact that I feel like today should be so amazing. A new state is a big milestone out here. 

I woke up to my alarm. I ignored it and went went back to sleep. It didn't last long, I was still walking by 6. No rain so at least my gear is dry. My shoes were of course sopping wet, I decided to use bag liners today. My hope is that it acts as a bit of a vapor barrier layer and keeps my feet a little warmer in the snow. It worked when I was a kid in the rain, the poor mans goretex sock. 

It didn't freeze overnight so while the snow is harder in the morning I'm still frequently punching through. I'm doing okay but progress is slow and there are some deep spots. Every time I sink up to my hip I have to sort of roll and drag my stuck foot out of the snow. Thankfully this only happens a handful of times and leaves me only with a wet butt and cold legs, and nothing worse

Really all my gloom stems from my shin. It hurts, and I am so desperately not ready to end this hike. It's hard not to go a little catastrophic thinking out here and I just have to keep telling myself that people are taking 2 whole weeks off waiting for snow to melt. Maybe Funsize and a few others will take time off too and I'll still have a group to go through Colorado with.  

Sidenote, I've started to write bits of blog as I take breaks or on long road walks. Like the first bit of this was written after cranky snowtime. So basically you get to experience just a small selection of my awesome mood swings throughout the day. 

I get to an overlook on the road where the trail is supposed to reconnect. No trail in site, I see some faded pink flagging on some tree branches heading up a rocky hill. Okay, why not. Then I'm on beautiful soft dirt trail contouring the edge of a ridge line. 

I get a good ten minutes down the trail and this happens

I do the standard double take, did I miss something? Nope, the fun of an unfinished trail. I head across the rocky slope, there are occasional bits of flagging as I traverse the slope. Guess I'm on trail still. I get s little cranky, the uneven terrain is tough on my shin and my feet are sliding every which way on my grocery bag liners. I'm starting to lose the flags when the trail reappears. Who am I to complain? Any trail is nicer than none. The trail was pretty, heading down the ridge with wide open views of the valley. With enough snow patches to stop and take icing breaks every 30 minutes. 

I head down towards the meadow. When I make it to the road I'm magically not on trail. The only positive, the ridiculous number of footsteps that clearly made the same error. I trudge back uphill eventually finding the trail. 

For the life of me I seemed unable to stay on trail today. Every time I turned around I'd either lost the sucker completely or wandered down some dirt road or game trail. Honestly it was a little ridiculous. After the road I am of course off yet again. I cross country eventually making it slowly around the meadow. 

Pretty standard trail lately, mud puddle anyone? But at least spring is trying

I cross a cow field and surprise surprise head a good quarter to half mile 100% southbound. 

After I fix that I head uphill. It's nice to be on real trail again. I'm slow but steady. Checking my mileage at noon I'm frustrated. I feel like I had gone a good distance but technically I've only done 11 on trail miles. Feeling frustrated I check my pedometer, not totally accurate but so far pretty on point. It says over 14 miles and I feel slightly better. The snow starts pretty suddenly. I wasn't really thinking about what would happen but I'm over 10000 ft so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The trail starts to climb, thankfully someone has gone ahead and there are pretty good tracks to follow. I lose them and get a little panicky but find another set soon enough, the only disturbing thing is that these are clearly southbound footsteps. Nervous I check the GPS and continue on. The postholing isn't awful but I regularly sink knee deep. I don't have snow baskets for my poles yet and between the off balance sinking feet I also regularly plunge up to my wrists in snow throwing me super off balance. Basically it's slow going. 

Turns are a bit depressing. I round a corner and it's just 100% snow as far as I can see. 

I slowly make it to the top of the climb. It's beautiful and deep. There have only been a few times I sink waist deep and this is one. The snow is deep and I laugh as I look up and it starts snowing. Well played New Mexico, well played. The snow lasts less than 5 minutes and I head onwards. 

The trail starts to head downhill and even though I'm sinking more regularly it's so nice to fight gravity a little less. 

At least there's a marker? And I'm officially on a road now. I am so hopeful that the road will be more melted and I can take a break from the postholing. 

I take a break at one of the first dry spots. It's soggy but my feet are so cold I think it's a wise decision to stop and try to warm them up. They are disturbingly cold and painfully numb. 

Colors coming back!

After a snack and the sensation coming back to my feet I head back out. The slight open space on he road is a dual edged sword. The snow is soft and deep. The choice becomes post hole knee to thigh deep or slog in icy slush water. I turn a corner and the snow is back. I don't even make it 20 minutes before my feet are horribly painfully cold. I stop rewarm my feet and put the plastic bags back on. Vapor barrier beats slip sliding in my shoes. 

There are a few drier open spots on the road and it's easier than climbing but it's rough going. The farther down I go I get a little sloppy. Just sort of half bounding half falling as I trudge. Thankfully my feet never get scary cold again with the plastic and my shim doesn't hurt as it's basically iced continuously. 

The road turns and I'm back in the trees. 

It gets steep quick and I get to boot ski down the steep sections which is crazy fun. Instead of stepping you just half slide, it's fast and great. 

Looking up as I take a breather. 

Down and down I go, I'm less than 2 miles from the Colorado border and am having a great time. Up and down through the snow. The short climbs and traverses aren't bad and every chance I get I boot ski. I see some tread heading straight down. I check my maps and figure if I hit the bottom it's a short cross country to the border. I take off downhill, it's great and I'm shortly in a meadow. I then walk in the expected circles and of course probably walk a ridiculous amount of extra mileage but I finally find the border. I had expected a nice Colorado sign but no luck. 

Woohoo!!! One state down!

I'm on a cliff edge and there have actually been some dry spots, I have high hopes for my last 3 miles. 

The dry trail is gone minutes later and the terrain is steep. I happily slide down as much as I can. I try to find the real trail occasionally in the dry spots but it's mostly useless. I'm just worried about getting cliffed out (stuck on a cliff edge), but I make it down the steep spots. I do have some pretty graceful postholes though. Sinking waist deep is  hard to fix, I have to sort of sideways roll out of the snow. One particularly awesome time I sink waist deep three steps in a row and failing to get purchase have to roll out and glissade a few steep feet before I can walk like a normal person again. 

With maybe half a mile to go I finally hit dry ground. Without the snow my shin starts to hurt but the highway is in sight and with the wind suddenly whipping my butt I head onwards. 


I lose the trail and with a few big patches of snow try to slide closer to my goal. The snow is littered with routes and I just sink endlessly but I'm so close!

No trail but I successfully don't die and slide down some trees to make it to the highway. I decide the intersection will be my best chance at hitching and walk the few feet to the pass. 

I'm so skillful at my iPhone self timer. 

I have service and after a barrage of texts I think I know where some folks I know are. Delightful magically appears, I guess if I had popped out at the official parking lot a few hundred feet down the road I would have seen Bigfoot and the 2 guys he decided to hike out with. I went the official route through this section but I guess there was a lower route that avoided some of my last 7 miles of snow travel and a whole group got in that morning. I guess that explains why I saw no one most of the last 2 days. 

Delightful and I get a hitch within a few minutes with a local couple. I've officially entered Colorado on trail but the nearest town is Chama, New Mexico so back to New Mexico we go. 

We meet up with Patches and the Rev. I end up staying at a local trail angels for the night and all we do is eat and gossip while I ice my leg in the evening. I'll make decisions later, for now I'm in Colorado and I love the CDT so I'll make this shin and snow work somehow. 

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