Daily Log: Day 65

Meetup: Day 65 – Tuesday 9/15/2020 – 2284.4 – clear, sunny, hot, windy and threatening clouds at end. I woke late at 5:25 am and rushed to pack up. I was on trail at 6:07 am. First thing was 3.7 mile climb to the top of the mesa. Then it was miles of walking on the edge of the mesa. The trail was confusing at times and I hand held my phone as I struggled to find the trail. Several times I was off trail and finally realized that I just needed to stay on the edge of the mesa. I descended and crossed Highway 84. I couldn’t find a gate. I had to climb under a barb wire fence on the other side of the road. I conserved water and used my platypus for the first two morning snacks. At lunch I guzzled my 0.7L bottle and another at my afternoon snack. I finished the day’s hike about 3:30 pm. At the Jeep I downed a number of cans of soda. Justin cooked pork tacos for dinner. I finished with a mini pecan pie, some cookies and tootsie roll pops for dessert. Overall it was a good day. Only have about 70 miles to go. It really looks like I’m gonna do this long ass section after all. Yippee! Tomorrow I’ll meet Justin at a road crossing and he’s going to drive me to a campground that’s 0.8 miles away.

Panoramic picture as sunrise lights up the distant mesas.
High on the edge of a mesa looking out as sunrise crawls across the geography below.
Setting up my tent beside an isolated forest road. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Time for bed. Only a few more days, a few more meetups, a few more dinners, and few more hikes. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 64

Meetup: Day 64 – Monday 9/14/2020 – 2305.9 – clear, sunny, hot. I woke at 5 am. I packed up, ate breakfast and was on trail about 5:45 am. I started with a descent and a flat. My first and only climb was steep and hard to follow. I had lost the trail. But then near the ridge’s top I saw a sign to my right “Horses left” and “Hikers right”. I had found the trail again. At top the ridge was flat. Later on I was trying to follow the trail but I lost it again. I was deep in the forest. The track was obscured by many blow downs. I wondered if I’d get lost in there, but I just keep pushing forward and using my Guthooks app to confirm my location and direction time and again. I made it through, but it slowed me down. I sent Justin an InReach message saying I’d be late [“At 2312.2, very slow going, expect me to be later than planned.” Sep 14, 2020 1:46 PM]. Then I had to cross a meandering stream a number of times. In the hot late afternoon I arrived at Rio Chama parking lot where I found Justin at 4 pm. It was a long day. We had PackIt Gourmet pizzas. I added pie, cookies and tootsie roll pops as dessert too. Tomorrow’s hike starts with a 3.7 mile climb. There is no water on this section so I’ll start with 3.7 L and conserve conserve conserve.

Meet up campsite beside the Rio Chama. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 63

Meetup: Day 63 – Sunday 9/13/2020 – 2326.9 – clear, sunny, cool, some clouds. I woke in front of the Jeep at Rebel Roost in Cuba NM at 5 am. I packed up my damp sleeping bag and wet tent. I ate breakfast at about 5:30 am and then hiked 0.3 miles back to the CDT alternative using my headlamp. I took Los Pinos County Road and began to climb. I followed the dotted trail line and went on a closed road. I passed another gate and continued to climb the road. Finally I got to Los Pinos Trailhead and the road because a trail. I scared a cow and its calf who were beside the trail. They proceeded follow the trail and climb ahead of me. After a while my cow company disappeared and I continued to climb alone. At a trail junction I met two hikers. We chatted and they said that most of the climb was done. I got to a meadow, got some water, talked to a fisherman and returned to the actual CDT. A slight climb and I was at the summit. I descended to Justin and got to our meetup at 2:20 pm. Overall I was feeling good and the climb and the distance wasn’t too tiring. Tomorrow I’ll be doing 21 miles with a climb in the middle to meet Justin. He says I only have 6 more days. Wow! It’s almost over, but I still can’t believe it.

Are those bear tracks? I think they are. Gotta keep my eyes open and be watchful.
Got to our meet-up point and Justin was there. Yippee! (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 62

Meetup: Day 62 – Saturday 9/12/2020 – flip flopped! started at spring at 2362.5 at 10:40 am and nearest non-alternative mile is 2347.o – sunny, hot, few clouds. Justin and I woke at 6:15 am in Chama NM at the Chama Station Inn. Justin stopped for coffee and groceries while I waited in the car. Together we drove the back roads to the spring that I had stopped at in 2016 south of Cuba NM. There is no snow except for a few little drifts here and there. The hike is not over! From there I hiked back to Cuba. This hike included about 7 miles of road walk. Once in Cuba NM I got to Justin in the Jeep at 5:15 pm at Los Pinos County Road, which is tomorrow’s hike starting point. It’s late, I’m tired, but regardless I’m on trail. He cooked two delicious ribeye steaks with corn chips and bean dip for dinner. Tomorrow I’ll slack pack about 20 miles on an alternative trail with a 3800’ climb over 14 miles. This re-route is due to a private-land conflict mentioned on the CDT website. I’ll meet Justin at the end. We plan on meeting up each day to be safe if weather turns bad again. Tomorrow’s weather should be clear.

There is no snow in Cuba NM which was my original southbound section-hike goal. It is now my flip-flopping northbound re-starting point (or at least the spring 15 miles south of Cuba where I had gotten off trail in 2016). (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Back nearby the spring south of Cuba NM. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Time to start hiking northbound now. Overall I’m heading back to where the snow storm has gotten me off-trail. But today’s goal is Cuba NM and meeting up with Justin. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Up on the New Mexico mesas.
No longer does it look like the Rocky Mountains.
After the stress of the snowstorm I’m looking quite relaxed at the Rebels Roost. Oh and we’re having delicious ribeye steaks tonight. Yum! (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 61

Meetup: Zero: Day 61 – Friday 9/11/2020 – 2213.0 – sunny, snow on ground, warmer. I first woke at 5:30 am then got up at 6 am as Justin stirred above me. He came down about 6:15 am and tried to start the Jeep and warm it up. But it wouldn’t turn over. OMG! The battery is dead. What did we do to run the battery down? We don’t know. We would have to wait until Ken leaves around 8 am to jump us. We are so glad Ken and the other hunters were there or we’d be totally stuck. Kind Justin made me hot chocolate and I had a pop tart. We wait wait wait. Finally Ken drove up. We tell him our battery is dead. We jumped the batteries and off we went. Just around the corner only 0.1 miles was the first hill. Ken led and up he went. Then it was Justin’s turn and he stalled and immediately realized that he couldn’t restart. The battery is dead. OMG! Honk honk. Tell Ken we’re stuck again. Justin runs up the hill and luckily Ken had a spare disconnected battery. We tried it. Nope. Again. Nope. It’s dead too. Ken and Justin walked back to Ken’s camp and came back with another battery along with some things Ken had forgotten. We tried it. Nope. Repeat. Nope. It’s dead too. As Ken carried his extra stuff up to his truck Justin went back to have Ken’s uncle drive his truck as a jump for the battery. Finally that worked. Up the hill we went. Ken lead and Justin followed. The next hill, although it looked easy, wasn’t. Ken slid off to the side. We tried, failed and backed down. We attached tow straps to Ken’s rear end and tried to pull him straight and down. As this was happening we got blocked by a small tree and he nearly slid into us but missed. OMG! We detached the tow straps. We gave it a try next and we got to the top. Yippee! Then Ken powered up the hill on the right side of the current tracks. He almost made it but stopped. He climbs out, grabs a shovel from the back and starts digging his wheels free. After with a burst of power he makes it. A little while later and further down the road he gets to the top and we get stuck in a muddy patch. Out come all our tow straps again, but wait. Ken yells to get in our Jeep because a flock of sheep need to pass. So before he can pull us up we get in our trucks and wait as one thousand sheep, several dogs and their shepherd goes by. Finally Ken pulls us up. The worst of the road ends. It’s still a bumpy muddy dirt road but there are now track to follow. Down curves and switchbacks we drive. Then we see a vehicle with a hay bale coming the other way. We’re in the lead so we pull to the side. They go by but now we’re in a ditch and can’t get out. Ken comes over and begins to dig and pack a ramp but every time Justin tries to get out he can’t. His Jeep keeps following the ditch. Finally he tries to power further along it and gets back on the road and he does. If he hadn’t then the ditch would have forced us further off road and down a hill. Whew! Finally the worst was over. Carefully we followed the forest road to the highway. Asphalt! There we wait for Ken. When he pulls up we congratulated each other and thank each other for the help. Ken said he is going into Chama NM and we offered to buy him lunch. On the way he stopped to talk to his sister-in-law Rose who owns the Chama Station Inn. We asked if she has an available room – and she does. So after a big hamburger lunch we went to our room and both got showers. Later after saying our goodbyes and thanks to Ken we leave to have pizza at the Local Local Local restaurant. Yum! A very very exciting day. And I’m so glad it’s over. I’ve come to the realization that if Cuba NM has snow anything like what we’ve been though then the hike is over. We will see tomorrow. But tonight I’ve got an actual bed to sleep on.

On Friday September 11 we and one of the hunters named Ken made our escape. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
However, our battery was dead for some unknown reason. So Ken jumped us but only 0.1 miles into our escape the Jeep stalled and we had to get Ken’s uncle to come restart us. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
One hill after another Ken in his pickup truck and us in the Jeep would try to climb it. Sometime one or the other or both succeeded. Other times one would help the other. Here Ken is helping get the Jeep over a hill with a tow strap. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Added to all this commotion a thousand sheep came by. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
While shepherds on horseback and sheep dogs herded the sheep down the “road”. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
After four hours we finally made it to the highway near Cumbres Pass and we offered to buy Ken’s lunch in Chama NM. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Although I was still cold we ate burgers, relaxed and chatted about our morning adventure. That night Justin and I stayed at the Chama Station Inn. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 60

Meetup: Zero: Day 60 – Thursday 9/10/2020 – 2213.0 – more snow! I woke up in Jeep. Even more snow has fallen overnight. I did nothing all day but sit. While we sat we listened to an audio book and sometimes I napped. Sweet Justin made brats for lunch. I did nothing. Dear Justin made pork and rice bowl for dinner. The snow is melting very slowly. It is falling off the tree branches a bit. Cows wander by, pause to look at us, and move on. I prepared to sleep inside Jeep again tonigh. Tomorrow we will attempt to leave with Ken at 8 am. It might take all day or longer if we get stuck during our escape.

We had water, and food and the Jeep. We were lucky to have them. So I decided to pack up my tent and stay in the Jeep to keep warm. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 59

Meetup: Zero: Day 59 – Wednesday 9/9/2020 – 2213.0 – snow! I woke several time overnight as the snow accumulated on my tent. Earlier I would smack the inside of my tent to loosen the snow and have it drop off. At midnight I had to get out and hand scoop about a foot of snow from all around my tent. While doing this I accidentally tripped on my front door guy line and pulled it out. I got it back in, but it wasn’t as secure as before. At 2 am I again smacked the inside, but this time the front guy line popped out. Luckily I found the stake in the snow and replaced it with a bigger one. Using my shoe I pounded it in. At the 3:30 am I completely undressed in the freezing cold and put on my Patagonia long underwear. My feet were still cold, but I just tried to sleep regardless. Finally about 7 am I got up when Justin got up. I packed up the stuff in my tent into my backpack, but left my tent up, which now had more snow surrounding it. I sat in the Jeep trying to get warm while Justin brushed it off. We started the engine, but we needed to conserve gas so we can get out of here so turned it off. As I see it we have a few options. One, Call the hike quits – that is the hike is over. Two, wait until the snow melts and continue from here. Three, go to Chama and wait it out. Four, go to Cuba and head north. Hopefully the weather in Cuba will clear faster, because it is further south. I’m leaning on going to Cuba NM, that is, called flip-flopping. Around 8:30 am I packed up my tent and Justin closed his roof tent. Unfortunately when we put my pack in the back of the Jeep the bladder bite valve leaked and emptied its entire contents on and in the cooler and beneath. Nothing is easy today. Justin very nicely cleaned up much of the leaked cold water before he started on his own packing up chores. Finally we were all packed up. We tried to drive down the forest road. We got about a tenth of a mile and the snow made it impossible to find where the road went. So we turned around and went back to the campsite. We are now here for the next few days until the weather clears and either we can find the road down to town, or I can find the trail to move on. Justin has sent messages to family using his phone telling them we are stuck stuck stuck. I was too cold in my tent so I’ve decided to sleep in the passenger seat of the Jeep. To do this I’ve rearranged and restacked some of the plastic bins and jerry cans to make more room to recline the seat. I’ve pulled on all my warm clothes and gotten into my sleeping bag. My legs are draped over the gear shift and emergency brake so my feet can rest on the driver seat. I’m trying my best to be comfortable in our dear little cramped Jeep. Justin is again sleeping in the roof-top pop-up tent.

In the morning all tent sides were again buried and I was still cold. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
We had gotten 12-15 inches of snow. The forecast (for Chama) was 3-5 inches. We were stranded. Luckily we had met several hunters who were camped only 100 yards away. So we had plenty of food, and water and we weren’t alone. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 58

Meetup: Day 58 – Tuesday 9/8/2020 – 2213.0 – cloudy, windy, rain, thunder. I wanted to sleep in for 15 minutes, but I got up at 5 am. I packed up and headed out with my puffy on. I started a climb, but the slope is now more gentle. My second climb was a bit steeper, but no longer a long one. I left Colorado and entered New Mexico after 2.5 miles. I saw no sign announcing the State change. I listened to the Boys in the Boat audio book. I got to FDR 87 and to Justin at about 11:30 am. It was still quite early in the day. I encountered no rain during my hike. I had a soda and snack. I set up my tent in the lee side of a large pine tree to protect me from the wind and hopefully snow too. Justin parked the Jeep next to me to further block the wind. The split in my right thumb hurts. My left little toe is bandaged as is my right third toe. We are hanging out.

I put up my tent behind the tree to block the wind. We assumed that the tree may also block any snow too, but that was hopeful dreaming. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Justin also moved the Jeep closer to block the wind. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
At 7 PM the snow began to fall. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Soon it began to cover the tent sides. While inside my tent I would hit the sides every 5 minutes to knock the snow off and down. I finally gave up and went to sleep. At midnight I woke up and all the sides were deep in snow. I got my shoes on and crawled out. All around the sides I hand dug out the tent. It took a while. I got back in and tried to sleep, but I was cold. About 3:30 AM I put on my Patagonia base layer, but I was still cold. Snow is still falling and I’m trying to get some more sleep. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)