Saturday, June 20, 2015

Day 53: to the snow!

6/13: mile 863.9-872.9
Miles: 9
Total trip miles:724.2

The group staying at Let it Be's

Oh good intentions, no early start but we went out to breakfast with our trail angel host Let it Be which was great. Then he said he would drive us to a good spot to hitch and ended up taking us all the way up to the pass. What a treat. 
Rain gear scramble 

Of course the weather was great in Pagosa, pouring rain and thunder by the time we got to the pass. 

The trail started off nice, just some patchy snow. 

The group spread out and I found myself following Appa's footsteps, with no signs of Nightcrawler, Moist or Cookie Monster. 

The snow got deeper and Appa and I decided to stop messing with the trail and just follow the divide, slightly less snow up there. After one snowy traverse that had me nervous I glissaded down to the valley. Luckily Appa did the same and we cross countried back towards the trail. 

I swear it steeper than it looks

Climbing and more deep forest snow. The postholing was getting exhausting and then Appa fell. Not badly but somehow onto the bottom of his ice axe. He was fine but bruised and pretty rattled. We stopped and he iced up using the ever present snow. Nothing like falling straight onto a sharp metal tool to make you question things. 

It was getting late and there was nowhere decent to camp where we were sitting and we had no idea where the others were. In a weird clash of technology Appa was able to get ahold of Moist. They were 2 miles behind but doing fine. We decided to push a bit farther to hopefully snow free camping. 

I took off and within minutes post holed up to my waist smashing my leg against the side of a tree. So now I was rattled and done with hiking to. 

A little farther and the snow let up as I climbed. We stopped up on a saddle with great flat dry camping. Cookie ended up catching up a little after dark just to make sure everyone was okay. 

A beautiful sunset to hopefully lighten the mood a bit. 

Tomorrow is decision time. Right now I want to take the longer official route through the San Juan Mountains to Stony Pass (hitch to Silverton) which is 85 miles or push all the way to Lake City 34 miles farther. But there is a bailout option about 5 miles into tomorrow where we could switch to the Creede route. It's much shorter (saves around 4 days) and a lower route saving snow grief. But I've been hearing about the San Juans since I started planning this thing and am not ready to give up on them. It sounds like Appa is done and heading to Creede. The plan is to wait at the campsite until Moist and Nightcrawler show up and decide where everyone wants to go. I'm not sure I want to tackle this solo so I'm just crossing my fingers for now. 

The red is where I want to go, the blue is Creede

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