The Southern San Juans and my first zero day!!

Chama to Pagosa Springs

May 30th 6 miles

I spent my whole morning eating and getting myself organized to hike out of town. The only thing holding me back were my new shoes I was eagerly waiting for.

I went to the grocery store to resupply for the 69 mile stretch to Pagosa Springs. Once I left I checked my tracking number and sure enough they had been delivered about 30 minutes prior. I quickly went over to the hotel and collected my package. Then I headed back to my campsite to organize my resupply and try on the shoes. Thankfully they fit and I got everything together.

At 3 o’clock I began my walk down the other opposite end of town to mail a collection of small things home. I packaged up some stickers I have collected, a few random straps I had no use for, two pairs of socks that had holes, and lastly my pillow.

My friend from the AT, Roadrunner, was just getting into town to jump back onto trail after some zero days with his girlfriend. He came and met me at the post office. I was really excited to see him. Last time I saw him was in Maine when we finished the AT together in 2014. He also hiked the PCT in 2016 but unfortunately our paths never crossed. I got a ride with him up to the pass. Which was way easier than trying to hitch.

We started hiking around 5, which was a lot later then I would have liked but oh well. We did 6 miles that afternoon. Our evening hiking was cut short by some dark clouds rolling through. We had the option to either hike on to an open ridgeline and risk getting wet and cold and maybe being forced to camp on the open ridge or we could stop hiking at 7 and seek shelter in the trees. We went with the safe bet of camping in the trees. In colorado the weather will dictate a lot of the decisions. This will add a new variable to the hike.

May 31st 30.5 miles

Somehow I managed to do 30 miles in the San Juans most of the miles weren’t too hard. Towards the end of the day there were some areas of snow that took time to cross. I finished the day at 8:30, so it was indeed a long day. With all the snow and snowmelt my feet were wet all day and they were painful as I stopped hiking to set up camp. I found a lovely lil tentsite protected from the wind by bushes.

June 1st 22 miles

This might be the toughest 22 mile day I’ve ever done. We were moving slow in the morning. Luckily I was able to pitch my tent in an east facing manor. The sun hit my tent first thing in the morning and I appreciated the warmth it brought. Eventually we were hiking at 8am. First thing we climbed which brought a little more warmth to my morning. The trail rounded a corner and we were faced with the trail on a north facing slope. North facing slopes get the least amount of solar radiation so they tend to keep snow the longest. It was slow moving. Part of the trail was covered in snow across steep slopes and part was in the forest, also usually snowy. I used microspikes quite a bit. I started to just carry them in my hand because I was putting them on and taking them off so much. They did help though and I was glad to have them.

Eventually I got frustrated so we descended to the valley floor to then met up with a trail on the clear south facing slope. This other trail eventually meet the CDT further up the valley.

This morning bit was the hardest part of the day. By lunch we had only gone 7 miles. We were tired though so we relaxed and tried to dry out of feet in the warm sun.

Thankfully after lunch we were able to pick up the pace. This section was beautiful, high up in the alpine. This area was up at 12,000 feet. On climbs I could feel the lack of oxygen. There were a few more times when I used my spikes but the afternoon brought us easier walking.

I eventually found a place to set up my tent at about 7:30 and I believe everyone else is behind me. We lost track of each other in the afternoon. I’m just 11 miles from the highway to hitch to Pagosa Springs.

June 2nd 11 miles

Short hikes into town are always the best. The promise of real food and a real bed provide lots of motivation throughout the day.

There was really only one legit climb that brought me up to the top of Wolf Creek Ski Area. There were quite a few day hikers on the trail and it was at that point I realized it was the weekend.

The trail meandered down to a road crossing at Wolf Creek Pass and I put my thumb out for a ride. I had a ride within 5 minutes down to Pagosa Springs.

I generally can’t stop walking around once I get down into town. It’s overwhelming the choice you have and it’s daunting to make decisions. I didn’t feel in the mood to have lunch at a restaurant so I went down to grocery store to purchase some cheaper food to enjoy. I went to three outfitters in the downtown area and wasn’t able to find a Sawyer Squeeze for sale. There is a walmart but it is 3.5 miles away and I had zero interest in that hike. So I’ll have to settle for another water treatment option it seems.

I got a hotel room for the night. I ended up splitting it with Sandy Cheeks, Cardboard, and Roadrunner. We drank some beers, ate some food and watched TV. We found pure enjoyment in the modern conveniences.

June 3rd zero day!

It was raining this morning. We all ended up deciding to take a zero. Probably a good call considering the rainy weather we have in the area today.

The next resupply stop is in 120 miles at Lake City, which might be about 5 days of hiking. Some folks are choosing to stop at Silverton which shortens the resupply stretch. I will probably just go through to Lake City. I like the idea of spending 5 entire days in the San Juans.

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Comments 1

  • Johnny Oak : Jun 11th

    Lets go boys!!! Keep drinking those heady beers and ripping mileage, most importantly focusing inward, outward and everything in between…Mind, body, trail. Staying stoked for the updates!!

    -Johny Oak
    Atlanta, GA 6/11/18


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