South Fork, CO to Grants, NM – Warning: Frozen Nutella Will Break Your Spoon
As we sat outside the Dollar General, packing our resupply into our backpacks, we watched a bald eagle flying above us. Our walk out of town started on paved road, turned to dirt road, and led us to the trailhead that we’ll meet back up with the red line cdt trail. There were signs of a forest fire nearby. We camped at 10,000 feet and it felt great… dare I say… warm? We cowboy camped and watched the starry sky which featured star link.
We’re back on backcountry trail after a couple days of road walking. We’re also no longer on the Colorado trail so we no longer get spoiled with a nice neat trail. It’s eroded and sometimes not even there at all. I tripped several times and have even fallen a couple times today. We’re in the southern San Juan’s now. We got trail magic at the trail head from T-dub again!
Full moon was back out and bright tonight. The wind kept beerrun up all night. I forgot to dry our quilt out in the sun today which affects its insulating ability. I slept terrible because I kept waking up shivering. Ketchup Daddy was the only one that got a good nights sleep.
Today I realized the sun no longer feels like a summer sun, it feels like a fall sun. The lush overhwhelmingly green trails we had previously been walking through are now out numbered by browns, yellows, reds and oranges. I love changing seasons.
Today I felt pretty good and strong. I think it’s because I had a ton of unhealthy but delicious snacks that I ate about every 2 hours. Usually I pack out protein bars and then I don’t eat them because I don’t want them. Gushers and fruit roll ups fueled me up the last climb of the day.
It was so windy on the exposed ridges. The cold wind was relentless all day. The warm sun was a good counterbalance, but the wind was annoying. We just couldn’t ever escape it. We walked into the dark, our head lamps and the moon lighting our path. The silent night was broken up by elk’s bugles and coyote’s cries. We could see the lights of Chama in the distance. I fell asleep thinking about the food I would devour in town. I woke up on the ground. My air pad got another hole. KD and I tried our best to share a single pad for the remainder of the night. I slept terrible.
Got to the road crossing for Chama, NM this morning. Tried hitching for 2 hours and nobody stopped for us. We eventually contacted a trail angel from Chama and she very kindly drove up to the pass to get us. We decided to get a hotel for the night so I could patch my air pad and also catch up on good sleep I’ve been lacking.
We got a ride back up to the pass from that same trail angel. Under clear sunny skies, we crossed into New Mexico on October 1st!
The blowdowns today were probably some of the worst we’ve seen all trail. I lost the trail several times. Thankfully, the blow down section didn’t last too terribly long.
We stopped for the night at a nice campground with a picnic table and pit toilet. We later discovered, a 2015 late season sobo hiker, Otter, died in the bathroom at this campground.
We sat at the picnic table in all our layers eating breakfast. The sun was shining to the East but to our west were giant storm clouds and thunder. It rained on and off all day, raining more than not. At one point the thunder and lightning were less than one second apart. We went to sleep with everything wet and we woke up with everything still wet or frozen.
Our saving grace was the clear skies and warm sun slowly rising. It was windy and chilly until the afternoon. We finally got all our stuff dried out in the sun.
It was an easy hiking day, mostly downhill or flatish. We steadily dropped in elevation. After dark we stopped under a group of trees to sleep on a soft bed of pine needles.
Cold start but we’re motivated for town day and burritos at the gas station/general store. My spoon broke trying to dig out frozen Nutella. Pro tip: when it’s freezing temps, sleep with your filter and your Nutella 🙂
We got to the road and stuck out our thumbs. A guy and his 2 dogs in a RV stopped for us. We had just enough time to eat a couple breakfast burritos before the free bus headed for Santa Fe came and picked us up. We stayed in Santa Fe tonight. KD and I have some time sensitive requirements for school and need to go to Albuquerque to complete them.
Zero day in Albuquerque/Santa Fe!
We planned to take the free evening bus back to trail but somehow we missed it. We ended up having to take a $100 Uber back to trail. The Uber driver was so confused when we seemingly picked a random spot on the side of the road and asked to be let out there.
It was warm and wonderful when we got back on trail just after the sun set. The wind was warm, not chilly and biting like we’ve experienced in the past several weeks. We walked by beautiful mesas. I saw some new cacti that we have yet to come across on this trail. We are getting deeper into the desert and I’m so excited. It was a little difficult finding a good spot to camp tonight due to the many shrubs and cacti. We finally found a clear sandy spot and fell asleep under the vast starry sky.
In the rush and mess of everything while leaving town, me and beerrun forgot to get water. We are super lucky to only be camping about 3 or 4 miles from the next water source.
I saw a tarantula today! We didn’t see any other hikers today. We are finally experiencing the solitude of a south bound hike now that the snow-bo’s (nobo’s that flip flopped due to CO snow) are done with their hike.
We walked into Cuba, NM today! The rest of the trail towns from here south are on trail! There were reports of aggressive dogs on the road walk into town but we had no issues. We did see a ton of friendly stray dogs in town though. The food in NM has been outstanding. We ate at this gas station Mexican grill for lunch, dinner, breakfast the next day and packed out something for lunch on trail. That’s how good it was. A local farmer let us camp on his land for free right there in town!
We walked out of town with our sticks ready to fight off aggressive dogs but there were none. Water sources were more spread out but not bad. It’s hot and I’m loving my sun umbrella that provides shade while I walk.
We structure our days around the limited water sources. Today we had one good source we stopped at for lunch and one good source we camped at.
We hiked away from camp and our last water source for 24.4 miles hesitantly. We are carrying full capacity 2.5 liters of water. For reference, we typically carry 1 liter per 6-8 miles depending on how hot it is. So we’re not carrying the amount of water we’re usually comfortable with the given miles and temp.
About 10 miles in we came across some elk hunters and KD asked if they had any extra water to spare. They gave each of us a water bottle and a Gatorade! We were so thankful.
About 14 miles in, I started feeling bad and realized I was being way too conservative with my water and I needed to drink more. Shortly after we stopped for lunch and my feet were killing me. I’ve got new shoes waiting for me in town tomorrow. Tylenol helped. I only ate a few Doritos for lunch and took a nap. I didn’t feel very good.
Between lunch and the junction that took us off the dirt road and back into the wooded trail, 3 more vehicles stopped to see if we needed any water. What an amazing feeling it is to know so many people cared enough to stop and check on us. We made it to the water source well hydrated and even with a little bit of water to spare!
It’s town day! We lazily laid in “bed” and watched the clouds roll by before forcing ourselves to get up and get hiking. We had another road walk to Grants, NM. We were SO EXCITED to finally find a Chinese buffet on trail. We split a room at the motel 6 with Beerrun.
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