Total trip miles: 656.7
It was of course a slow start, but we were finally leaving! We even had a ride set up. A contract postal employee drives from Chama to Pagosa every day at 1 and said we could ride back with him.
We packed up, the extra gear is so heavy. Snowshoes, microspikes, ice axe, extra socks, waterproof socks, waterproof gloves and so much sunscreen for the snow sure add up. Even though it's exciting to be heading out everyone seems cranky. A few more folks show up and we get more trail updates before catching our ride. Then it's back to Chama.
Chama saw us searching for a few last minute packages full of winter gear. UPS is amazing and actually pulled over on the side of the road and delivered my new gloves and snow baskets to me. I guess they recognize hikers and know this time of year well.
We didn't leave Chama until pretty late but at least we were finally hiking. We started out climbing. Snow free the first bit but soon enough we were postholing and trying to find our way through a whole mess of blowdowns.
It was getting dark and we weren't finding any spots to camp at all. Continually falling into the snow up to my hips and wanting to camp had me stressed. We punched through into snowmelt streams and with freezing feet we finally found a flat enough spot and after 9 we at least had a place to camp.
I have a freestanding tent and it was tricky setting up in the snow. My stakes wouldn't stick at all but broken old tree branches worked perfectly and the moonrise was spectacular which was a treat.
It was a cold night and the wind and snow weren't helping. I sleep on a thin foam pad and while snow is actually super comfortable I'm not used to the cold coming from underneath. I have a feeling it's going to be a long night and I'm worried about the group. People already seem overwhelmed and strained and it's night one.