One State Down
After making it back to official trail we found ourselves weaving through meadows and up small grassy balds for the morning. It was absolutely stunning; the only downside was the mud. The mud stuck to my shoes, weighing me down, and made it impossible to land a solid step. In the afternoon we began to climb, which meant we ascended into snow. Since it was the afternoon the snow was soft so we did a lot of postholing and slow going. I slogged my way through the snow till I found the guys camped literally on the trail. The nice thing about few hikers on trail is the risk of being in anyone’s way is low. Therefore I set up right on the trail as well.
In the morning we woke up and hiked the first mile and a half together. Normally I would be behind but we had a stream crossing that was reported to be a little sketchy. In my opinion it was. That’s only because I don’t like log crossings. There was a large log you could walk across but in the middle you also had to navigate over fallen branches. I started out on the log but halfway through my legs started shaking. I lowered myself to a seated position and shimmied my way across. To dismount I had to get in the water so my feet were wet, but I was safely across. After this the trail climbed through a ravine and here I fell behind the guys. We hiked through the morning hours but the skies were darkening. It got very cold and windy as we got toward the lunch hour. We found a shelter at a day use area and hid in there for lunch. After lunch, we hiked out and as soon as we got to the road crossing it began to hail. The wind picked up and was whipping hail into our faces as we made for treeline as fast as we could. As soon as I hit treeline I had a sigh of relief as the storm was passing. I made the next climb and once again spent the afternoon slowly making my way through snow.
The next morning was super cold! I hiked out first and took some wrong turns. The guys caught me as I had turned around, realizing I needed to cross the river and head up the steep slope on the other side. I was less than impressed to have a crossing so early and my feet were ice blocks as I climbed the other side. As we climbed we got more and more snow. I was behind so I followed their steps as they wove through the trees. I met them for a break at a campground. We used the privy, had snacks, and hiked on. We climbed another bit and stopped for a quick lunch on a plateau. We had an amazing view. As we began to go down the weather again changed. I was following along in their path and then a snowstorm rolled in. It wasn’t quite whiteout conditions so I pushed forward and caught up to the guys, who had stopped for rain gear. We looked around for camping but there was none in the area. We made toward trail and the storm increased to whiteout. We stayed close to one another to make sure no one got lost. We pushed forward till we found a tree well big enough for four tents. We made camp here on dry soil. We ate dinner and had to melt snow for water. After chores were done we settled in for the coldest night yet.
In the morning we packed up with one thought on our minds: town! We were just about ten miles to Chama. We first had a climb in the morning to just over 11,000 feet. I was slow, still getting acclimated to altitude, but I made it to the top. From here we had to descend a forest service road. This road was completely snow covered so it was a little like a traverse, but it was hard pack so we moved fast. Once down from this peak we had a small climb up to the New Mexico/Colorado border. We were all ecstatic! We had made it through our first state! We stopped at the border and took pictures. We then booked it down. We had a pretty quick descent but the last bit was a small ridge climb. Normally this would have been no problem but the wind was howling and it tried to blow me off. I powered through and got down to the road. I heard a vehicle so I threw out my thumb. It passed one guy, the second guy, the third guy; losing hope I smiled big hoping they would take pity on a girl. It worked! We got a ride to Chama!
The couple that gave us a ride was super nice. They were very interested in what we were doing and gave us hugs goodbye. They dropped us off at the hotel where we got a room. The next few days had a bad weather window so we stayed in town riding out the storm and preparing for the next section.
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