Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Day 48: Nearly trampled by cattle!

June 7: I woke up and hit the trail with another early 6:30am start time. 'Twas a beautiful morning!

Except... there was a dark cloud of haze on the horizon that looked particularly thick today. What was it? Dust? Smoke? Pollution? I wasn't sure at the time, but would learn several days later that it was mostly smoke blowing in from wildfires in Arizona. I knew it might be smoke, but I wasn't too concerned about wildfires in Colorado. Not yet, at least! Colorado was still mostly covered with snow from what I heard. So I hadn't been especially concerned about the smoke, but I was definitely curious.

I passed a group of a dozen or people on mountain bikes heading in the opposite direction who were talkative and friendly. 

As before, when the trail climbed above 10,000 feet, I started seeing patches of snow. They weren't particularly troublesome, but the standing water in the meadows certainly were an annoyance. It was a soggy, soggy trail at the moment.

At some point during the day, I got a cell phone signal and finally heard from Evenstar who I now knew was behind me, and it sounded like she was almost an entire day behind me after spending quite a bit of time at Ghost Ranch. I wasn't entirely clear how far behind me was, however, since my phone time stamps text messages with the time I received the message rather than the time she sent the message. She told me where she was when she sent it and hoped to be back on the main CDT today, but since I couldn't be certainly precisely when she sent it, I didn't know precisely how far back she was. Just that she was somewhere behind me. Hopefully she'll catch up soon, but I definitely had no reason to try pulling big miles to catch up with her. And Pez was still nearly two days ahead of me--I wasn't going to catch up with him anytime soon even if I tried.

The views really were spectacular from the mountain ridges I followed, despite the smoky horizons, and I largely had the trail to myself until I neared Canjilon Lakes at which point fishermen and day visitors came out in droves! It was a scenic location--I completely understood why they would want to be here--and the fact that a paved road led to it made it easily accessible to the masses. I, however, preferred a more quiet existence so pushed through beyond the trailhead an extra half-mile where I had the trail to myself again.

I wanted to sit in the shade, so I found a nice spot about 100 feet off the trail next to a creek with plenty of shade, spread out my groundsheet and laid out on it for a good rest.

As it turned out, the fact that I went about 100 feet off trail turned out to be an excellent idea--although I didn't realize it at the time I did it. It was maybe about a half-hour later when a herd of cattle about 100 strong pushed by about a dozen people on horseback arrived. They were being herded into the backcountry, and I can't imagine the nightmare my lunch break would have turned into had I been laying out immediately next to the trail. I certainly hadn't expected a herd of cattle to go by! So no, I wasn't trampled by cattle, but only by pure luck. =)

Very smoky and hazy skies today!

I watched the spectacle go by, which was interesting to watch but kind of ruined the peace and quiet I had been enjoying until then and the whole reason I hadn't stopped at the lakes a half-mile back.

After the herd passed by, I gave them plenty of time before packing up my stuff and continuing on down the trail now covered solidly with cow prints and cow paddies.

It was the better part of an hour before I came across the horseback riders returning to the trailhead, minus the cattle. I knew the cattle would still be ahead somewhere, though.

It took me only about 15 minutes before I found the cattle, grazing happily in a beautiful, green meadow. I imagined that the cattle were probably happy with their location, but probably hated the hike out. I continued on a bit past the meadow, not wanting to be bothered by the cattle, and took another break by a creek.

While on this break, I looked at maps and figured some distances and decided to hike into Chama on Friday. It was Monday today, and originally I had planned to get in a day earlier, but by slowing down and getting in a day later, I could enjoy the hike more by taking more breaks. And--more importantly--it would give the snow in Colorado an extra day to melt. One day probably wouldn't make a big difference, but hey! Every little bit helps, right? =)

With that decision made, I realized that I really didn't have to hike anymore today. I could stop right there! Well, maybe not right there. As the evening progressed, I wanted to be in a more open area to enjoy the daylight as much as possible and enjoy the stars at night, but there happened to be a small open area just a few hundred feet further at the top of a hill near the trail and that's where I headed.

It was a lovely location, and I felt great stopping so early. I had only covered 17.5 miles today--less than I had been doing recently--but it felt wonderful! All-in-all, a pretty nice day. I just wished I could do less than 20 miles every day!

In this direction, the horizon was really dark with smoke!


Unknown said...

Would have loved a picture of the cows in the beautiful meadow.

Michael said...

I agree. After all, today's title bares their honor