Saturday, June 13, 2015

Quick Update - Cuba to Chama and the Flip to Glacier!

Rachel and I enjoyed the CDT which finally included some navigational challenges in Carson national forest.  Often we would follow the faintest of jeep tracks while keeping our eyes peeled for unmarked turns into still fainter roads.  The guthook CDT app was very helpful but there are several spots where the official route shown is simply an imaginary line in the brush.  

We made it to Ghost Ranch - the favorite spot of Georgia o'keefe and the famous Buck30 caught up to us the following morning. The ranch was hard to find but worth the effort for all you can eat buffets.

The three of us hung around the ranch all day but Buck30 put us to shame by practically never leaving the wifi signal
all day.  We took a few tours and saw the museums at the ranch to sit out the 90 degree heat we hoped was melting the record may snow in Colorado.

The section to Chama included several thunderstorms that shattered the air  as we crossed open meadows. We got up above 10,000 feet many times but didn't hit any snow until the last 7 or 8 miles.

The three o us hit the snow in the late afternoon and made camp at the first set spot after an hour or slogging through flooded meadows and over snow covered blow downs.  We decided to try to be hiking by 6 am to stay on top of the frozen snow before it melted but woke up to a strong thunderstorm at 5 am.  Buck30 was out of food and anxious to get to town, while we sat the worst of the rain out in the tarp, leaving at 7 am.

We potholed through the woods since it didn't he cold enough to refreeze an made it to a clear road.  Where the trail picked up in the woods we bushwacked down to a beautiful meadow and the Colorado state line - easily a mile off the snow covered official trail.  Then it was an easy hike to Cymbres pass and a quick hitch back into New Mexico to Chama.

In town I was optimistic that the snow pack was melting fast but Buck30 decided to flip to Canada with a free flight and left town the next day.  

Almost a dozen hikers were holed up in Chama to wait for snowshoes, ice axes and other snow gear to arrive in the mail, some were already flipping to glacier after disastrous attempts at hiking the next section over almost continuous snow at 12,000 feet.

My friend Let it Be lives in the next trail town over, Pagosa Springs, so we caught a ride with Spark and Trackmeat two hikers of a team of 5 flipping to the Canadian border at glacier national park to hike south.

In Pagosa we met hiker after hiker thy bailed the high divide due to Avalanche conditions only to hit chest high stream crossings on the low route.  One hiker even got frost bite on all of his toes!

Two hikers - Hand Stand and Machine Gun offered us a ride to Canada and we took them up on it.  After taking care of some logistics we made the 16 hour dive in one day in a rental car to east glacier on almost no sleep.  It's beautiful here but we are all passing out randomly in the motel room. We got our permits which include a 28 mile day because of a lack of available campsites at a choke point in the trail network.

We hike out tomorrow from Chief Mountain.  Word is to expect little
snow on the passes but the highline trail is still closed.

I won't be able to upload photos until Helena - probably in 2 weeks but they will be epic!

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