CDT Day 33: Ghost Ranch Alternative Mile 13.5 – 25.4 + CDT Mile 713.8 – 726.9 ( 25 miles – 40 km)

Sunday May 18, 2019

The sun was hitting the tops of the canyon walls down in the valley we passed through yesterday. They were glowing red, they looked like they were on fire. This was the closest we came to seeing the sun all day today.

It was a steep climb out from our campsite, rising 1,000 feet in just a bit over 2 miles. Nice to reach the plateau and catch my breath. It was now easy hiking following a jeep road. Our conversation steering towards yesterday’s depressing news about the election back home. With the grey overcast sky it was not helping to lift the mood of our morning.

By the time we stopped for breakfast, the snow capped mountains of Taos were to the east of the plateau we were hiking. We were at over 9,000 feet and those mountains looked like an impenetrable wall, so intimidating. I can’t wait to see what the San Juan mountains look like.

We followed the jeep road through groves of aspens with their spring coat on. The gentle green of the new leaf growth looked beautiful even against the grey sky.

Just before lunch we were off the Ghost Ranch alternative route and rejoined the CDT. We found a sheltered spot to cook lunch and filter water from a spring pouring into a cattle trough. Stopping for lunch is always a nice part of the day.

After lunch we walked through the most beautiful green meadow with the snow cover all but gone. Gentle rolling hills, groves of aspen with spring leaf growth and distant views of a town below, I think may have been Canjilon. It was a beautiful springtime scene, all that was missing was a little spring warmth and sunshine. A cold wind rose up from the valley below. As we were hiking on dirt roads the snow melt created quite boggy soil. It stuck to our shoes and was really slippery in places. It was impossible to keep our feet dry.

We seem to spend hours hiking on these wet boggy dirt roads. And then we started hitting patches of snow. We have been hiking at elevation of 9,000 feet and greater for most of the day so it was surprising that we had not encountered snow much earlier

As we ascended towards the Upper Canjillon Lake the snow cover continued to increase. There were a couple of tricky creek crossings towards the end of the day but we still managed to cross without stepping into the creeks.

With increasing snow cover we were running out of campsite options. It was almost 7pm before we passed a snow free hillside off the trail. We climbed to the top and found a perfect flat spot that was snow free and out of the wind. I was ever so relieved. As I finishing writing this post I’m snug and warm in my sleeping bag while the wind howls up in the pine tree tops above us.