Colorado is awesome! We have seen snow, marmots, snow, pikas, and really high peaks. Going back to before Pagosa (pre-Sara bronchitis), we hiked from Chama into the South San Juan Wilderness and got our first taste of incredible mountainness. This area was full of craggy, intense bowls that we would hike up, traverse way inside, then traverse back out the other. Most of the trail in this area tried to stay close to the divide, but since most thru hikers don't have the gear or ability to scale high mountain cliff faces opts to drop into the valleys instead of staying on ridges. Any north facing slope in this area was covered in multiple feet of snow, which may, or may not, support weight. Post holing was common, especially late in the afternoon as the snow melted. At this point Sara started feeling pretty sickly, but we still managed to average just over 20 miles a day. This might have put her over the edge, however, as we ended up taking two zero days, three nights, in Pagosa Springs to let her heal.
A fun part of this trip for us is seeing other places we may want to live in the future. We have been discussing the criteria each of us needs for a place to happily live. Such as jobs and snow, and housing and snow, and education and snow. Pagosa Springs seemed to fit all of our categories and had a great bakery, thrift store and brand new brewery so it now moved into our top 5 places to live.
After a few days of recovery in Pagosa, which also allowed the snow to melt, we moved into the Weminuche Wilderness. Although, still in the mountains this area was more big mountains rather than big ridge lines. Most of the snow on the trail had melted so we were able to make better time that way, but the elevation change about dropped us a few times. We dropped below 10,000' once. Exactly once. Then proceeded to climb 2800 feet the next morning, then 4000 more that same day. Our campsite choices also were incredible. On a lake. At 12000 feet. Pretty incredible.
|Camp at 12,500'|
Just north of our camp at Cherokee Lake two days into this stretch we saw our first bear. With the way the wind was blowing it did not smell us so we got to watch it walk through a big bowl. Incredibly an elk came out of nowhere and decided to follow the bear. The bear eventually decided it should not let a puny 600 pound elk follow it so turned around and scared it off. No joke. Incredible way to start out a day.
We resupplied in Silverton, which not only allowed us to consume a few plates from an all you can eat buffet then drastically overpay for 8 days of food, but also served as a meeting place for two friends to join us. Jack (who I ran with in college and have proceeded to do a bunch of painful races with) and Kate (one of Sara's childhood friends and one of my high school teammates who we have proceeded to do a bunch of painful races with) decided to jump on the trail with us at 12500' and crush miles. It took Sara and I 40+ days to get into shape for this section. Jack and Kate opted to go for broke right off the bat.
|Jack and Kate recovering in the yurt|
Last night we stayed in a cabin maintained by a snowmobile club at Marshall Pass (interestingly named for a Lt. Marshall who found the pass in 1873 while frantically trying to get to a dentist Denver, seriously), which is occupied mostly by mice and rats. Sleep was rough last night as every time we got comfortable our four legged rodent friends would start nibbling on some crumb or shoelace. We survived though and hiked the last 10.7 miles to Monarch Pass this morning. The last few days have been in the trees again, which is still above 11,000', but today we emerged back up on open ridge lines where we could see some glorious upcoming mountains.
|Just before Monarch Pass. Sara chowing down, again.|
|Jack and Sara|
Our box today contained some bonus snacks from our parents, and we had a box of goodies from Sara's sister. Mint chocolate covered malt balls are awesome. We want to thank everyone who has sent us stuff on the trail (trail magic it is apparently called). This includes our parents, Sara B., and Sara's Aunt Karen & Uncle John. It makes the trip that much more wonderful.
Also, since we were on the trail yesterday, we wish a big Happy Father's day to our dads and any other dad reading this. We will be in Silverthorne in about a week, then on to Rocky Mountain National Park around June 29th or 30th.
Track and Field