Total trip miles: 813.1
We had hoped to have a ride set up so we didn't have to hitch but at the last minute it fell through. So maybe we should have been in a bit more of a hurry to get to the trail but bed was so nice.
When we went to check out we started chatting with some folks on their atv's in the parking lot. We asked if they might be heading to Stony Pass. They said that hadn't been their plan but they'd consider it. A few minutes later we had a ride. Woohoo no hitching, plus another ride on an atv. They had a few things to do before they could go so we grabbed breakfast and did our own last minute errands.
The Powell's from Arkansas are amazing. 3 generations out for the week enjoying the area. The youngest was 10 and it was his first time driving his own atv so it was a slow start up the mountain. There was some technical trouble with his vehicle a few miles from the top but they took the time to ferry us up one at a time anyway and even stayed for lunch. What amazing trail magic and just good people.
The trail started around Canby Mountain and within minutes we were postholing through snow patches. At least there were dry areas, plus these mountains don't look quite as scary as most of last weeks.
We spread apart and meandered up and down the trail. A solid mix of trail and dirt but the postholing was pretty awful in places and Nightcrawler was looking miserable.
We had looked at possible lower routes while in town and 5 miles in she wanted out. She said she really just needed a break from the constant mental and physical stress of the snow. I was torn. I wasn't feeling too awful but it's been really tough out here and I'm still hesitant to head out solo.
Nightcrawler was very patient and waited while I decided, trail or low route? I've been trying to remember that this hike is for me, no one else. I have a bad habit of always comparing myself with others and sticking to silly rules I've made up for myself. Obviously we are both competent hikers but for safety (and my mother's) sake heading out alone still seems iffy.
I decide it's the safer thing to stick with Nightcrawler and we started down the valley. Not going to lie, within minutes I'm close to a full blown temper tantrum. There's no trail and we spend the next 2+ hours battling brush. The willows out here are intense, over my head and so painful to walk through. Add to that the icy slush and snow that was freezing my feet I was not happy. My feet haven't been that cold since Chama.
I finally found a half beaten down elk path that got me out of the willows to the edge of the valley. Nightcrawler joined and we headed down through forest, so much nicer than willows. A long way down but we finally found a nice dirt trail and it was gorgeous and such a treat. We even saw a moose, super exciting until it started coming towards us, then we just ran away. A few creek crossings but nothing bad and soon enough we were following the raging river through a steep canyons.
We finally made it to the trailhead and down the road a bit. Cowboying on the side of the road, trees all around and I'm super happy. We'll head back to the trail partway through tomorrow and overall mileage for this section will stay pretty much the same.