I did not sleep well. For some reason when I’m extremely tired my body decides to hold me hostage and withhold the much needed rest…and I’m developing a much deeper cough…a mild annoyance that has plagued me since New Mexico…is now a deeper chesty bark of a cough. I will need to do something about that soon.
We all roused ourselves and packed up camp in the chill of the creek valley air. We were on the road, and right around the corner entered another stretch of snow. Snow level seems to hover around 10,200-10,500…and we would be climbing to Elwood Pass at over 11,000.
The cold night had firmed up the snow, so we all walked confidently on top of the crust as the road wound up and up and up. Suddenly we had views! Oh beautiful blue-bird day, we hadnt seen anything quite so billiantly blue in a long time! However it was getting to be mid-morning and our much desired sun was now turning the firm crust into a slightly slushy mixture where every 5 steps I would break through and posthole to the ground beneath. Walk faster!! Seak shade!!
I motored around the curves of the road trying to find firm snow, cursing when I broke through. Finally Restless and I reached the point where the CDT joins the road, and stopped to spread out our wet gear on the still frosty snow…suprisingly you can still dry out gear on snow! Oh the sun.
I had already determined that I would continue walking roads to Wolf Creek Pass as the topo looked again to be a dangerous mix of steep slopes, ridgewalking on knife’s edges, and slushy unstable snow. Number 2, Restless, and Mark Trails however, were inspired by the blue above and wanted to go back on the trail.
We said our goodbyes and I made them promise to be careful.
The snow was just getting slushier by the moment, so I put on my skis and cruized the next 5 miles down the road until I hit pavement. Bliss! Skis are magical!
I took a nice long break at the end of the snow, and then began to trudge down the mountain roads…the valley was green and lush and the snow melt-off seemed to be increasing steadily…trickles and drips and seeps overflowed from the mountain sides as I walked.
When I bottomed out in a beautiful little valley I walked over to the creek running through the middle and found a safe spot to ford. Then crossed another tributary and up onto a road that would take me around to Wolf Creek Pass.
For the first time there were no other footprints to follow…others had the same escape plan I had, but now it was just me and the increasingly dark clouds over head. Hey, what happened to our blue-bird day?
I wound in and out of the ridge’s curves, started mushing through mud and snow, and hoped the sky wouldn’t open as it threatened to do.
Then footsteps! Hmmm, someone must have bailed out of the mountains here. Then more footsteps, it must be getting steep up there.
Finally I made it to Turner Pond campground…I saw the potential yoging opportunity in a place where people packed coolers full of too much food and drink. Tourists on the road for the summer would surely want to trade a cold beverage for a good mountain story! But, alas, no cars. This ugly little site had been clear-cut, you could hear the traffic from the highway up above, and the tent spots weren’t even flat! For $17 I could eat a huge meal in town, I will not be paying that when I could walk down the road and sleep in luxury in the forest.
So I did. Wolf Creek Pass tomorrow to meet Whiptale, a PCT friend, who would wisk me into Durango to have more adventures.
I did Wolf Creek Pass – Elwood Pass last year with my brother and niece and saw virtually no snow so your pictures really showed me a different face of that beautiful area. My husband is not doing very well due to Parkinson’s Disease so I will be delaying my hike this year. I had hoped to see you in southern WY but that will probably change. I will let you know when/where I will be. Reading your blog brings me back to the trail in so many ways. It will make a great book! I wish you well with that cough. Happy Trails!!! T-
Thanks for the message, sorry to hear about your husband! I would like to come back some fall and rehire all the San Juans to see the difference, I know it is extreme! Good luck with everything, it would be great to see you on the trail if it happens!
I so love reading your posts and living vicariously through you. The pictures are awesome and your stories are even better. I’ve been following since day 1 and look forward to them each day. Be safe!