Monday, May 28, 2018

Day 40-43 The Flip

Thursday-Sunday May 24-27, 2018
WY Highway 70(1546.4) to Top of a snowy ridge(1554.1) 7.7 Miles
Total Miles: 739.6
Elevation 10, 656 feet

I promise you I haven’t been just sitting idle. Once the decision was made to flip up to Wyoming there was a ton of logistical details to iron out. I made the decision to combine 4 days of blog posts into one post. Mainly because there is only so much I can talk about what I have eaten. I made the decision to head up to the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming because it is the only part of the trail that I haven’t hiked that is not covered in snow. Once Turtle and I hike the Basin we will rent a car and head back to Colorado. This flip will give us almost two weeks to allow for the snow to melt in Colorado. It also allows us to get through the Basin before the temperatures become truly uncomfortable. 

Thursday afternoon was spent lounging around in Pagosa Springs. Mangas’s wife was coming to pick him up and agreed to give Turtle and I a ride as well. We had breakfast at The Rose again and it was great. Just as we were finishing up, Hopeful, another thruhiker joined us. He is braver than I and was heading back to the trail later that evening. Mangas and I went by the post office after breakfast. I had 5 packages there that contained all over my cold weather gear. What I would have done to have had those boxes before leaving Chama. I made arraignments for the P.O. to hold the boxes until I return. I headed back to the hotel to finish laundry and to pack up. The rest of the afternoon was spent st the local bakery. Mangas’s wife, Julie picked us up around 3. We went back to the PO to pick up a package for Turtle, but it hadn’t come in yet. That was a bummer for him as it contained a new backpack. The one he is hiking with is in a sorry state. The buckle for his hip belt is broken and one of the shoulder straps is getting ready to break. 

Colorado Columbine

The drive home took a little over 3 hours. Turtle and I got dropped off in Telluride, while Mangas and Julie continued on to Ridgeway/Ouray. It was great and weird to go home. I had to give up my apartment, but my friend Seth let us stay with him. Turtle and I went to the hotel I work at for dinner. Since the summer season just started the bar and restaurant were slow. We had a great time at the bar with my friend Ethan taking care of us. I also got to see some of my friends which was fantastic. After dinner I took Turtle to our local bar. We had a fun night while waiting for Seth to finish with work. We ended up staying up until 3 in the morning. 

Ethan’s beard is better than most thruhikers 

Even though we stayed up so late we still managed to get up around 9. Seth, Turtle, and I went to breakfast before going into Telluride. We shopped at a few outfitters and wandered the town. Eventually Seth had to go to work so Turtle and I went to a few restaurants for lunch and so Turtle could try a few of the ladies cal beers. I got to see a few more of my friends. We really wanted to stay out and have a few more drinks, but we were exhausted after the late night. We decided to head back to Seth’s to take a nap before going back out. Unfortunately our nap turned into us sleeping all night. 

Traditional Telluride picture

Town of Telluride snuggled in a box canyon

It is crazy to see the difference between the southern San Juan mountains and the San Juan mountains of Telluride. Nobody in Telluride could believe that it got off trail because of snow levels. On Saturday we went to lunch nah with Seth and he drove us to Mangas’s house in Ridgeway/Ouray. Seth really went out and f his way to help us out and I can’t begin to express how much it meant to me. Thanks, buddy!

Mangas’s house was incredible and I really enjoyed seeing him in his home environment. We hung out for awhile before going into town for dinner. We went to Taco del Gnar, which is one of my favorite places to eat. They have the best tacos ever. After dinner we went for ice cream at a local shop. Mangas’s tenant and Hugh school friend Mike joined us for the night out in the town. I enjoyed spending time with Mantas’s friend and wife. After dinner we went back to the house and watched a movie. It should have been an early night, but I was anxious and didn’t sleep well. 

We woke up this morning and hit the road a lot Tyler after 6. I cannot believe Mangas offered to drive us all the way to Wyoming. That is the main reason this entire plan was feasible. Thanks Mangas. 
As with all plans it is important to be flexible. We were 10 miles from the trailhead when we hit a closed road. We couldn’t get to where we wanted to start our he trail because elk calving season had the road closed. Ironically elk calving season is why Telluride has a 7 week offseason and I get to collect unemployment. I guess you win some and you lose some. The best option going forward was to get dropped off 11 miles farther south. The only problem is that area still has snow and goes to 11,000 feet. 

Trailhead at WY Highway 70

This area was really our only option. Turtle and I had high hopes that it wouldn’t be too bad. We started hiking at 1:30 and spent the next 6 hours postholing and walking in snow. Have I mentioned how exhausting that is? On the bright side nothing about the hike was sketchy or dangerous. We should only have another 5 or 6 rough Miles tomorrow. Hopefully my feet and toes will thaw out eventually. After almost 8 miles of postholing in snow my toes are still numb. We are camped at the top of a ridge and it is very cold and windy. With dry ground at a premium we didn’t want to take the chance of hiking past this less than ideal location and not finding anything else. I really struggled today. The lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, and 3 zero days have really taken a toll on my body and mind. Starting my monthly cycle sure didn’t help things either. Tomorrow is a new day and pretty soon the snow will be a distant memory. I sure when I sweating my butt off in the Great Basin I will miss the snow. 

This was literally my entire hike


Snow for mile after mile

And more after that

The forecast tomorrow is calling for thunderstorms. I’m really hoping we manage to dodge them all day. Even though we are already behind schedule we don’t mind. The longer this section takes us, the longer the snow in Colorado has to melt. 

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."
- John Lubbock


  1. Yoda, love your post,WOW!!!you are one tough and special lady. Remember 5 words ...It's A Piece of Cake...


  2. Trail angels come in many forms, even good friends! Telluride is beautiful. Happy that you’re adapted plan is moving forward. Safe travels. Enjoy.

  3. Been really worried about you and Turtle with not hearing anything for 4 days. Figured the snow was the problem and so happy to hear you are doing a flip-flop. Godspeed!!!

  4. I’m glad you got a blog out, people were worrying. If we hadn’t gotten phone call, we would have been frantic. Plans are made to be changed, but not always easy to do. Thank you, Mangas, Julie for the transportation. Hard to believe you live so close to each other. Telluride pictures are a lot different in summer than winter. Onward to basin and warm up. You did good making new plans!! LU

  5. I told Gary conditions must be really bad if *you* are doing a flip-flop! Fingers crossed the snow peters out soon!

  6. Just catching up after a 10 day road trip. Glad to hear you are safe if not warm and dry and got to spend some time in your hood eating, drinking and sleeping! Wow. Too bad they don't rent snowshoes you can get at one end and return at the other. hmmmmmm......a new business for my retirement :)