CDT Day 142: 20.2 miles /32 km

CDT SOBO: Mile 2152.8 – 2173.0

Thursday September 5, 2019

Wolf Creek Pass/Highway 160 (10,850′) – Silver Pass (10,800′) – Mt Pass (11,500′) – Silver Mt (11,800) – Bonito Pass (11,250′) – Summit Pass (11,800) – Elwood Pass (11,650′) – Camp (12,150′)

I’m so happy we took a full rest day in Pagosa Springs. We woke up feeling rested physically and mentally and eager to get going, to get our final leg underway. We have about 110 miles to go from Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado to Hopewell Lake/Highway 64 in New Mexico. Our finish will be the same location where we bailed out in that terrible snow storm on Day 35, May 20.

We were not sure that Charlie would have the morning free, so over breakfast Hammer and I discussed where we would need to walk to from the motel to be able to try and get a ride to the pass. We were just finishing breakfast when Charlie showed up. Wow, terrific start to the day, what a relief not to have to hitch.

Charlie was true to his word. He gave us a ride up to the pass and we learnt a little bit more about the work he did with the hunting-guiding company. I can’t adequately express how privileged we feel to receive such generosity from strangers.

It was great to be able to get a good start and get this leg underway. We said goodby to Charlie and wished him well with the rest of his season in Colorado.

We were back on trail by 8am. It was a quick rise from the Pass to the top of the ski fields above the Highway. Our packs were heavy and the first hour felt a bit uncomfortable but soon we were back in the hiking rhythm. After the initial climb away from the pass, the trail was relatively forgiving, the grades were fairly easy. Flattened buttes and eroded mountains lined the distant landscape for most of the morning.

We were definitely back in cow country. The smell of fresh cow dung wafted through the air at times. Sections of trail were degraded by cow hooves. Water was scarce, it was nearly 11 miles from the pass before we crossed a stream that was just barely flowing.

As on the past few days, the morning was beautiful temperature and clear blue skies but by the afternoon the clouds had gathered. Distant thunder could be heard but for the most part the rain stayed away.

We did come across several piles of fresh bear scats. And it was just as Charlie was telling us, the vegetation through this terrain probably privided much better food sources for bears compared to the higher country we’ve been through in the San Juans.

The highlight of the afternoon was seeing an enormous moose with the most magnificent antlers. By late afternoon the trail rose above the tree line.

We needed to camp before it got dark. The sunset seemed way too early and we stopped on a ridge surrounded by quite stunning and unusually shaped mountain peaks. We camped by a small pine tree hoping that it may provide shelter from any wind that comes up through the night.