After a few days rest, many soaks in the hot springs, and a group debrief to discuss what we were comfortable with we packed up and headed out of Pagosa. We decided to take the Creede cutoff as members of the group didn’t feel comfortable sticking to the high route where there would be more traversing and a knife edge. I did feel comfortable with the route and had a long internal debate about going for it: how would I feel the Creede cutoff affected my hike? Could I call myself a thru-hiker? Should I continue alone? How would I feel never seeing these guys again? After many questions and mulling it over I decided it was not smart to go alone and I would stick to the group on the cutoff.
With the decision made we hitched back up to Wolf Creek and set out. It was a warm day and as I strapped on snowshoes in my shorts and T-shirt I’m sure drivers passing thought I was crazy. Nonetheless, I was ready and began to make the climb up from the road. We made our way through slushy snow for a few hours before setting up camp early because we were going to alpine start the next day. As we were setting up snow began to fall. What a welcome back to trail!
As the alarms rang for 3 a.m. I begrudgingly began to pack up. Once we broke camp and began moving we went across a little way and then began a morning of climbing. The first climb was steep but not too long and as the sun crested the horizon we made our way across a traverse. From there we had a small reprieve as a descent greeted us before a big climb. We made a huge push up to the top of the next climb. It was slow going but we made it to the top and had lunch. From our very scenic lunch we made our way to the Creede cutoff trail. We cut off a little early because the actual trail was a traverse under a cornice. We made our way down and eventually hit dry trail. We camped that night on dry ground for the first time in a long time!
That night Poles decided to night hike to town to watch a soccer game the next day. So as we hiked out in the morning it was just Krafty, Stats, and me. We lost Stats after a few miles as he took an alternate, so Krafty and I climbed high back into snow and followed a snow-covered dirt road for miles. We eventually dropped down to the town of Creede. My shoes were slightly too small and causing a lot of pain. I hiked slow as every step was painful! I finally got to town around 5 p.m. and joined the others. We had Mexican and margaritas and decided to zero even though we had just had two in Pagosa.
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