Chama(792.5) to Stealth Site(809.6) 17.1 Miles
Elevation: 11,900 feet
It was beyond amazing to wake up indoors in a warm bed. Turtle had set the alarm to go off st 5:30 so we could get breakfast before leaving town. I wasn’t very hungry and Turtle was still sleepy. He went back to bed and I stayed up to finish writing yesterday’s blog. Ralph was going to pick us up at 7, so we got up around 6:30. I packed up my things and went to the convenience store next door to get coffee. Ralph was right on time and his wife joined him for the drive up to the trailhead. We had a pleasant conversation on the way.
Ralph and Wendy. Thanks for being such awesome trail angels
Group shot before heading north
The day started out with a gentle 2,000 ft climb up to 12,000 feet elevation. I usually power up the climbs, but I was pretty sluggish today. I’m starting to think it is time for my second zero day. These neros and enqueneros(heros) have been nice, but I think my body is telling me it needs a bigger break. The higher we climbed the more amazing the views were. There were quite a few downed trees, but not as many as the stretch before this. Everything seemed perfect. It wasn’t windy, the beetle kill wasn’t too bad, and no snow. All in all it was the perfect start to hiking in the South San Juan mountains.
Such a nice morning
The first 9 miles really passed quickly. The higher we climbed the more the wind picked up. I really didn’t mind. The scenery made it worth it and the hiking was easy. Well all that did not last long. As Ron Burgandy would say, “Well that escalated quickly”. Shortly after taking a break I rounded a corner to see a fair amount of snow covering the trail. It didn’t last long, but it looked a little sketchy. The trail dropped off to the side steeply so I had no choice but to walk over the snow. This wasn’t the kind of terrain were a fall would kill me, but it definitely would have ruined my day.
Steep snow field
I know a lot of this trip has been pretty boring to read. People keep asking why anyone would hike this trail. The answer is, The San Juan mountains. I knew this section would be hard, but it is also spectacular. There were quite a few negatives today, but I want to focus on the awesomeness. Brief overview of the trials and tribulations: blow downs, postholing, more snow than expected, very cold hard wind, being surrounded by thunderstorms, and difficult route finding. I knew that I was starting into the mountains of Colorado a little earlier than is wise, but I also knew that the snow levels this year are way below normal. Even with all the bad, today was one of my favorite days on trail and it will only get better.
Is this really my life right now
360 degree views
Cold and wind blown, but still smiling
Thank god there was no snow here
Today was beyond exhausting and my shoes and socks are completely soaked. We were forced to make camp at 5:30pm because we were getting ready to walk a ridge at 12,000 ft for 6 miles. It also looked like rain and/or snow was imminent. We found a spot sheltered from the wind, not quite flat ground, and mostly dry. Tomorrow will be more of the incredible views, muddy and swampy ground, postholing, route finding, and freezing feet. I can’t wait!
Ominous skies. We were literally surrounded by storms all day, but managed to stay in a dry bubble
Somewhere under that snow lies a trail
Trail we followed today. Shout out to my Tampa peeps
"If my ship sails from sight, it doesn't mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends."
- Enoch Powell