17.6 miles hiked, Pagosa Springs
It’s a beautiful day for a hike! My shoes are not wet, the tent has just a bit of condensation and today we are headed into town.
I rummage through my food bag and find a bar to munch on for breakfast. It’s slim pickings in the food department today, but it’s not a long day and there is town at the end of it so I’m sure I’ll survive.
We have a few small climbs that wind through pine trees and green meadows. There’s not a lot of water coming up so we have to take more than we would have normally, and stop at our last marked creek to fill up our containers.
After we leave the creek it’s another mile or so uphill. Now, of course, the clouds are here. The temperature drops suddenly and it starts to sprinkle a little as we descend the skinny rocky path, then just as we reach a junction below thunder starts going crazy right above us. It begins as fat snow flakes then decides it wants to be pea sized hail, so I sit on a log and pull out the trusty tyvek to hide under, cramming my pack underneath as well. Grizzly comes down the hill and squishes underneath as well, and we spend the better part of 20 minutes waiting for it to pass. The amount hail on the ground is crazy and all our feet are now fully soaked from walking through the big piles of hail and the wet plants we brush past on the skinny trail. There are more clouds and more thunder in the distance, so we consult our maps and find there is an alternate that won’t take us high up on an exposed ridge. Bueno.
We hike down what appears to be an old overgrown jeep road towards the Wolf Creek ski area. It’s obviously used by bike riders and maybe an occasional hiker as we follow their tracks. I look down and see that we are surrounded by wild strawberries. We all stop and eat a few then hike on a bit, then stop again and ear some more. A few more steps, a few more strawberries. They are tiny and bursting with flavour. I can’t believe there aren’t any signs of bears here – all you can eat strawberry buffet is waiting! We rename this road the strawberry alternate. I could stop and eat all day but we have miles to do!
We pass under the chairlifts for the ski resort. I was here in January on their insane amounts of snow so it’s amazing to see the transformation into lush green summer-land.
We spill out onto the road, try in vain to hitch for a while, then walk the mile or so up to the big sign showing the great divide and the Continental Divide. Lots of cars stop here for a photo; nothing like snaring someone in a conversation to get a hitch! We chat for a while to a couple who are actually headed the other way, but if we are here when they return they’ll pick us up. We head to the other side of the road, thumbs out and eventually a young guy emerges from the trail who has just droppes some friends off on the CDT for a section hike.
We all pile into his rattly car, cross fingers it lasts the 20 miles to Pagosa and we are off.
Amazingly we make it there in one piece and packsplode in the hotel room. It’s a gorgeous town but a pain in the butt for hikers – the laundromat is 2.5 miles from downtown so we have to take a cab there. We decide Thai food sounds good, so I take the cab further to pick up dinner then come back to gourmet dinner eating in the laundromat in my rainsuit. It’s a good look.
Finally clean, another cab ride back to the hotel where we watch Rio olympics for a while before fading away.