Monday, February 28, 2022

Day 60: Gettin' out of Pagosa Springs

June 19: Everyone packed up their possessions, ready to hit the trail. As it turned out, I didn't even have to worry about hitchhiking back either. One of Wi-fi's friends, Conner had a car and was willing to take us all. It did involve packing all six us of with all our gear into a midsize sedan--a tight squeeze, for certain! But hey, we didn't care. A ride is a ride! =)

Mural in Pagosa Springs

Before hitting the trail, however, I walked over to the post office to pick up my package. I thought about just telling them to forward it on to Creede without opening the package--something I could do for no added cost--but ultimately decided against it. I wanted some of my paper maps that were in the box, and I was still walking around with a laptop cord and a few other small items that were completely useless on the trail that could go in the package. So I accepted the package, popped it open and repacked a new box with almost the same contents. I was a little disappointed that I hadn't figured out my sleeping arrangements before the post office had closed so I could have picked up my laptop and made use of it during the night, but oh well. I'll catch up with that work when I got to the next town in a few days.

Evenstar texted me that she hoped to get back on the trail at Wolf Creek Pass either today or tomorrow. I suggested today was the better option--there was squat for lodging in Pagosa Springs. Just skip it! It had the added advantage that she might just be less than a day behind me on the trail as well and there was a good chance she'd catch up again. =) 

Actually, I also suggested that maybe she should go back to Platoro and hike from there to Wolf Creek Pass. I assured her that there was no bad snow between the two having done it myself and she could still keep her steps connected. Personally, I wanted her to get back on the trail at Wolf Creek Pass since then she'd be closer and we'd have a better chance at meeting up again, but I also knew that she wanted to keep her steps connected as well--but she said she'd just come back some other year and do that section she missed, which was totally okay with me! I hoped we'd have another reunion on the trail soon to swap our respective war stories through the snow. We both had definitely picked up some stories to tell each other. *nodding*

Upon returning to the motel room, we all packed ourselves into the car minus our gear with the expectation that we'd return once more before leaving town for good. It was a crowded fit, but it was kind of a proof of concept to make sure we could all fit in okay too. It would be even more crowded once we had all our gear with us in our laps, however.

It was definitely getting a bit crowded in the car with 6 people and all our gear! (That's Skunkbear immediately behind me.)

A few of our group needed to go to the market to resupply, but Skunkbear and I had already done that the day before and were good on that count. We came along for the ride, however, because Skunkbear got the idea to pick up a sandwich at Subway to take on the trail, and I liked that idea and wanted one for myself. So they dropped us off at Subway, then continued on to the market. Wi-fi also wanted a sandwich but needed to get stuff at the market as well and put in an order with us.

Skunkbear and I sat down at a table by the window to watch for everyone else's return. They were remarkably fast--both of our orders had barely been finished before they returned.

Then it was back to the hotel to retrieve all of our gear. At this point, Splits showed up, and we let him into the room for a shower. The rest of us piled into the vehicle again, this time with our heavy packs on our laps, and rode back to Wolf Creek Pass.

By the time we had arrived at the pass, dark, menacing clouds had rolled in. I was pretty much ready to hit the trail running the second I got out of the car, but the others needed a little time to figure things out and adjust their gear.

So I crossed the busy highway, noting that there was another cop checking big rigs again and wondering what they were looking for.


Back at Wolf Creek Pass

It wasn't even 10 minutes later when  heavy hail hit the trail and thunder and lightning crashed through the air. Knowing Skunkbear's fear of lightning, I decided to stop and wait for her. I wasn't particularly excited about hiking through the hail anyhow. I found a place that provided a little protection against the hail and decided to eat half of my sandwich then. It was getting around lunch time anyhow, so why not?

It didn't take long before Skunkbear and Savage passed me by, hiking together. Skunkbear didn't seem too concerned about the lightning, though, and kept on hiking. I guess we were far enough down the mountain and in the cover of trees that it didn't feel threatening to her, and she had a new hiking partner to look out for her as well. Wi-fi and Cobra also passed me by, hiking together as well since they had been friends for years. Cobra wasn't even thru-hiking the trail--him and Conner had only come out to Colorado to meet up with Wi-fi. (Conner was the one driving, and he had left us at Wolf Creek Pass.) 

So I felt a little bit like the lone duck, braving the elements on my own. I finished my half-sandwich before resuming the hike up the trail. Wi-fi and Cobra were taking their time since Cobra wasn't trail-hardened and Wi-fi wanted to take it easy with his leg, and I caught up and passed them, then they'd pass me again when I took a break. We'd pass each other several times throughout the afternoon.

Skunkbear and Savage I only caught up with once late in the afternoon as another thunderstorm rolled through. This time, Skunkbear was sitting on her pack and choosing to wait out the storm. I stopped to chat for a bit.

Looking back down toward Wolf Creek Pass

Then I continued onward. Later in the afternoon, I found a blue flask with a survival bracelet on it. It looked fresh and brand new, and I knew whoever had lost it must have passed by recently so I picked it up. I dumped out the water from it not wanting that extra weight. The object seemed a little heavy and awkward to belong to a thru-hiker, but at this point, but I couldn't rule them out either and I knew there were four of them directly ahead of me. And, I figured, if I didn't catch up with the owner, I'd just throw it in the next hiker box I came to. I felt a little guilty about losing my Nalgene bottle in the wilderness a few days back, and I liked the idea of removing one from the wilderness to help make up for it.

I had only planned to do a short day out of town today, about 10 miles, and figured I'd be camping alone, so I was a bit surprised and delighted when I saw 4 tents set up in a clearing at about the 10-mile mark! Wi-fi, Cobra, Skunkbear and Savage had all camped together! I wouldn't have to be alone!

But when I got closer, I realized that it wasn't them. It was a totally different group of people. Drats. I didn't really feel like camping with a bunch of strangers, though, so decided to push on a bit further. The next good campsite I found... then I'd set up camp alone.

Past that camp, I met a few people who were in that camp. They had set up camp and were using it as a base to do day hikes around the area, so that's how I wound up meeting them on their way back to their campsite, and how I found the owner of the lost flask. I was happy not just that I reunited the lost gear with its owner, but also that I didn't have to carry it anymore. =)

The trail then climbed steeply up the side of an extremely windy mountain--so much so, that my hat at one point flew off in the wind and I dropped my pack to chase my hat 50 feet back down the mountain. Stupid wind...

Once I climbed up high, however, campsites became a lot more limited. The trail followed an exposed ridge for miles, so I wound up doing closer to about 14 miles for the day instead of the original 10 that I had planned. On a happy note, however, it meant I caught up with Wi-fi and Cobra who had got sucked into chatting with an old guy who had been out for a few days. They seemed relieved when I arrived, as if I could occupy the man's interest while they walked a bit off trail to collect water. I didn't need to collect water having carried plenty already, and the man was a talker! Talk! Talk! Talk! Talk!

Not a lot good campsites on this very exposed ridge!

It was a bit disorientating, and I got the impression that he was starved for company. I can't tell you what all he talked about--none of it was important enough to note in my journal and I've long since forgotten. I just remember being astounded that someone could talk so much so quickly.

We were still chatting (or rather, he was still talking--I really didn't add much to the conversation except an occasional "Uh-huh" or "Yeah" to acknowledge that I was listening) when Wi-fi and Cobra returned. The man suggested a possible campsite not far ahead, and we headed off to check it out. It wasn't super well-protected from the wind, but there were some bushes and small shrubs growing around that helped block the wind. Even though the skies were clear and no chance of rain was expected overnight, I set up my tarp just to use as a windbreak.

The sunset from the ridge was great, but shortly after sunset, we all headed back to our respective tents (or in my case, tarp) for the night. I ate the rest of my Subway sandwich for dinner, and that was the end of another day on the trail...


That's Wi-fi and Cobra ahead.










Before leaving town, I took photos of all the sketches that Skunkbear made featuring myself. (There were three of them in all.) Just so I'd have a record for myself. I actually like them better than real photos of myself! =)

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