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Begins: Jun 15, 2014
Date: Wed, Oct 1st, 2014
Start: Monarch Pass
End: Ghost Ranch
Entry Visits: 681
Journal Visits: 7,891
Guestbook Views: 688
Guestbook Entrys: 3
Continental Divide Trail Map
Hello again everyone, and greetings from the northern New Mexico desert! Today I'm at Ghost Ranch, a conference center/church retreat located in some beautiful redrock country west of Abiquiu, NM - the perfect place to take a zero day! The past two and a half weeks have been quite eventful, so I'll try to catch you up briefly (I'm on a public computer with limited time). There also appears to be no SD slot, so I apologize for the lack of pictures for this entry.
After an amazingly relaxing rest day in Salida with my family, I headed south from Monarch Pass. The first three days were relatively easy hiking through the Cochetopa Hills, which comprise some of the lowest elevations on the CDT through Colorado. At the end of the third day I entered the La Garita Wilderness, which marked the beginning of the San Juans. I had a wonderful day of hiking above treeline in glorious sunshine from Cochetopa Creek to Spring Creek Pass.
At Spring Creek Pass I was met by some very good friends, Mike and Pat, who happened to be at their cabin in Creede while I was passing through. They took me into town to buy groceries, and I was able to spend a wonderful night with them in their cabin. Pat served up an exceptional dinner and breakfast, and I was able to hit the trail again the next morning feeling strong, and ready to enjoy what would be a 12 day, 280 mile continuous stretch through the Weminuche, South San Juans, and into Ghost Ranch without having to leave the trail to resupply. This long stretch was made possible by Mike placing a food cache for me in the woods near Wolf Creek Pass. It really was great to be able to cross the highway and continue on my way without the stress of having to get into town, buy food, and get back to the trail. Mike and Pat, thank you so much for all your help in this section - it made such a difference!
The six day stretch through the San Juans and Weminuche Wilderness was simply outstanding. Without a doubt, this section was the highlight of Colorado, and together with the Wind River Range the highlight of my entire trip. The scale of the San Juans is unmatched by any mountains the CDT passes through. For days on end, I kept cresting ridges and seeing still more mountains ahead that I had not previously seen. I had four straight days of amazing sunsets from above 12,000 feet on the divide with elk bugling in the basins below. It really was a special time for me on the CDT.
A day after crossing Wolf Creek Pass I entered the South San Juan Wilderness, which houses still more big mountains. The trail through the South San Juans is awesome, as it stays above treeline contouring close to the divide, and passes some easily climbed 13ers, which I took advantage of. My last day in the South San Juans, the weather started to turn foul, and I was glad to move to slightly lower elevations after entering New Mexico south of Cumbres Pass.
Unfortunately, those elevations weren't quite low enough to dodge a few days of bad weather north of Ghost Ranch. I walked through hours of driving snow and hail on two occasions, which really took a toll on my morale. On a thru hike, or any extended backpacking trip for that matter, you are totally exposed to external factors such as weather. There is no car at the end of the day, no promise of a warm bed or meal, only a few pieces of fabric separating you from the elements when you set up camp. This exposure really became mentally fatiguing in the past few days, so my current foray into lower elevations at Ghost Ranch could not have come at a better time.
Well, it appears my time on the computer is up, so I'll have to sign out now. New Mexico is a bit of a wild card as far as what to expect - I know little about this area, so I'm excited to discover what it has to offer. I'm not sure where my next update will come from, perhaps in Silver City. Thanks for reading everyone!
Away to the south,