Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June 30th

June 30th 2015
Day of reckoning.
Today started off well enough, hiking followed by more hiking.  I left a few minutes after Reststop and Viper. A couple miles in and I was lost, a common trend for the day.  I wouldn't really call it lost because I knew where I was but I wasn't where I needed to be or even on the trail. I bushwhacked up old jeep roads in mosquito infested bogs and eventually made it back to the trail. The trail ran the divide and was mostly ridge. Mosquitoes are finally a force to be reckoned with, flies make my life hell when the mosquitoes aren't available.
Around 2, I decided to take the "shortcut"  Viper was preaching about. Half way down I made a wrong turn, followed by another wrong turn. I found myself so low in elevation I got a couple ticks...  Eventually I made it to sage, then giant fields of cow wheat.  I paralleled the road I wanted going the wrong direction for a couple miles. Eventually I decided to cut across the fields, what a mistake. The various grasses were chest high and growing out of a stinking bog. Halfway across the fields were streams and nastiness. After an hour of walking in hell I made it to brambles surrounded by barbwire fence and maneuvered my way over it.  Wet feet and low self esteem and I was on the road.  I walked back the direction I was supposed to be going to the pass. Instead of a 10 mile walk to the pass it was a 20 mile walk, I really goofed up.  After a couple hours of walking I gave up and started hitching, another hour and I was at Monarch Pass.  I celebrated with one of those giant cans of tea from the store at the pass. When I walked in the store, Elinor greeted me, she had been there since 2 updating her blog. There is no cell service but there is WiFi! Bigfoot and Atlas trudged in 15 minutes later.
I was planning on sleeping at the pass to save money but a huge thunderstorm rolled in. I said screw it and hitched down with Atlas and Bigfoot.  We got dinner, a beer and ended up getting a room at the Hostel. There were only 2 bunks left so we got hosed with an expensive room. Should have just found a hotel.
Anyway, welcome to Salida. I'm stuck here for a bit and need to figure things out.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 27

Well we haven't really left Lake City, CO yet. Got here a night early and took a double zero, these zero days are really starting to add up. It just became a triple zero, Reststop and Viper decided to stay so I stayed with them. It was either stay here an extra day or wait in Salida by myself for Katie... Atlas and Bigfoot took off around 11:30 to start hiking.
A few other hikers also showed up, but no one is coming from behind us. Most everyone skipped ahead by taking the Creed cutoff. Threshold got a ride here to get a package and Bearclaw and Dirtmonger just showed up from somewhere. From what I gather they are done hiking and just got jobs in Lake City.
Anyway, the town is pretty nice and the race has really boosted the activity level around here. I helped carry some water to one of the aid stations yesterday and will never help again... A guy that has helped take water up there took us up the wrong saddle and made the straight up climb that much more difficult. At the end he told us that's the third time he has gone the wrong way. We went back down the correct way and it was much better. When you carry 45 lb water jugs up 1500 ft in 1/2 a mile the right way helps. It will make a good story and next year I can do the San Juan Solstice 50 miler if I would like to. Check out the elevation profile online.
Remember that post about water filtration? Well when I got back from carrying the jugs I got a pretty bad acid indigestion attack. It knocked me on my butt, since then my stomach has been a mess and I'm currently bed ridden.  No one will stay in the same room as me for very long. I don't really know what's going on but I sure do hope it ends shortly.
Tomorrow we get back on trail in the morning. Four days of hiking and I get to take 3 more days off with Katie, Woot Woot.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Photospheres are back!!!

Here is a new photosphere for you.  I've uploaded quite a few and Google should approve them shortly.  You can check them out by heading over the the photosphere tab and clicking the link.

For some reason my camera couldn't take them for a while and I missed some amazing photos.

Here is a photosphere from Wild Boy Mountain in the San Juans.  It's at 13,100 feet.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June 24th

We ended up in a pretty cool campsite, surrounded by rocks and the only flatish spot for miles. Soon after, well while we were setting up camp it slushy sleeted on us.  It didn't rain for the rest of the night. Below our site there were about 100 elk in the valley below, eating, farting and making ridiculous noises.
We made pretty good time hiking knowing that the pass and therefore a warm bed was only 19ish miles away. We came across two more Younglife groups of 15 and some Colorado trail hikers.  We had lunch in a fully stocked Yurt, it was pretty nice. Afterwards we pushed on hiking along until a flash followed by a giant boom had us all flat on our stomachs wondering what happen. Bigfoot threw his pack down and assumed the "lightning position". I just sat there laughing because all of us were on the ground, including Reststop and Atlas 100 yards behind. We waited for the other two, when they caught up they told us that both of them were knocked off their feet and slammed to the ground by the lightning. It wasn't so funny anymore, we survived a near miss. Neither Atlas nor Reststop recall getting knocked to the ground.
Hiking fast, we made it to the pass and got a ride to town, The ride was sheer luck. In town we stayed at the Ravens Rest Hostel run by Lucky, a former thru hiker. It's a nice place and I recommend it to anyone passing through Lake City, CO.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

June 23rd

June 23 2015

Journaling is hard when there is so much Game of Thrones to watch. But here I am, writing down my thoughts in the time tested manor of a touch qwerty keyboard on my cell phone. Lately every time I hit space the letter "b" shows up instead... Just happened there.

More snow and hiking. It rained, hailed, and sleeted some. We almost made it all the way with minimal weather. Today was also a 19ish mile day, that leaves something like 19-17 miles to the pass tomorrow. Then we hitch to Lake City CO. If you are a huge blog follower and check everyday for an update tomorrow is your day, after my lovely wife edits and spell checks them for me of course. Love you sweetie...

We saw a couple cars on Stoney Pass and also hiked along the Colorado Trail for a bit, actually I think we're still on it. We also met a rather large group of Younglife kids out enjoying nature. Their leader didn't let them have watches of cell phones, or tell them where they were going, the injustice. I don't think she liked our presence there either, she jumped up and intersected us before we got to close to their camp chair circle. Oh well, haters gonna hate.

Currently we're camped out among some sweet rock formations. In the valley below are about 50-100 elk spread out over a mile or so. It's pretty amazing to see that many in one place.
I was planning on writing a little blurb about Tarptent Contrail as I'll be sending it home for my newer more awesome tent but it looks like that will have to wait.  If all goes well I'll be in town tomorrow night so I'll try to get some journaling done in town. Heck I might even have access to a computer!

Monday, June 22, 2015

June 22nd

June 22 2015

I was right, there was a lot of snow today.  The sunrise was pretty lame and we were fortunate enough to wake up to some of Reststop's jams. I always do a little dance. He has a portable speaker and plays it every morning for us.

Today we spent a good deal of time on snowshoes, big surprise right?  The adventure occured right after lunch. We had two options - drop down into a snow filled valley and climb back up to Hunchback Pass or.... Hike the divide!!!  Of course we decided to climb a 13,100 ft mountain fittingly called Wild Boy to get on the divide. 

The ascent was gruesome and straight up, there was a bit of boulder scrambling. At the top we celebrated and took pictures, I even had enough service to make a quick call to Katie. It was all fun and games until we had to go down.  Scree and boulders at 75 degree angle, it was no joke and pretty hairy. I guess I should be used to that by now. So after today we're all accomplished amateur mountaineers.  We ended up hitting a few more scree fields on our way back to the pass. Atlas and Bigfoot also got a super awesome 100+ foot glisade in.

All and all it was another good day. We are on the top of a windy saddle again and looking forward to another ridiculously windy night with limited sleep. Everyone it counting and rationing their remaining food. It looks like we have a little more than two days of hiking left. We are going to get very rested up in town. I also get my new tent, more on that tomorrow night. Its time for me to watch Game of Thrones on my cell phone, it can be hard out here sometimes.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

June 21st

June 21st 2015

Hike naked day!!!!!!! It also happens to be the summer solstice.  The Hawaiian Tropic girls were suppose to meet up with me for the hike today but I think two guys on a moped gave their tour bus some bad directions.

We managed to get a lot of trail miles in today, probably half trail and half snowshoe.  We also met some hikers from Houston that are going to be way in over their heads tomorrow, the snow is pretty bad.

All day we were able to see this mountain feature called The Window. As we walked it became closer and closer. I joked around and said I was going to climb it as the map said it was an option.  By the time we got to it Reststop used some tactic called peer pressure and I ended up doing it.  It was straight up and treacherous. My way down, the other side, was instant death. I ended up hiking back to the spot we split up. There was no trail and the way down took some time. Luckily today is the longest day of the year and the other 3 guys were waiting a mile or two away.

We hiked to another saddle and are enjoying our awesome sunset. It will also be an epic sunrise. Tomorrow looks like we're going to play in the snow a bit, yay.
On a side note, the photospheres are working again. I probably took about 5 today. Check the link to see them all.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

June 20th

June 20th 2015

Let me start off by wishing my friends the best if luck this weekend at King of the Lake in Tahoe. This won't get posted until after they finish but I hope they get some good vibes while I type this.

It seems everyday is started by lugging our heavy packs and snowshoes up to the highest point we can find. Everything is great until we reach some impassable area that threatens our very existence. 

Today it was at a place called the "knife edge" on our maps.  After gaining the knife edge we were quickly greeted with a snow covered slope and no safe way down the mountain.  We made it out about 50 feet while clinging to the rock face for support.  Atlas came back down the trail saying "I'm not doing that".  Reststop walked right by to make his attempt. I was in agreement with Atlas and turned back to where the cliff edge started. While looking for an alternative route I found a bunch of trail tools and a first aid kit in the rocks. Atlas slowly navigated some rock scree and Reststop falling off a rock kinda glisaded down. I found another trail and though it would be a good idea to follow it down. Bigfoot followed me and our good trail ended abruptly. We ended up following Atlas down and them picking up Reststop's snow prints. No one was dead at this point just a bit scraped up and out of adrenaline. We all took different routes back up and met at a saddle for a long lunch.

Without the snow cover it would have only taken us 10-20 to hike this part. There was also a high route we all missed. It ended up taking a couple hours to go a couple hundred yards. The result was a low mileage day, 15.

Tomorrow will be day 4 and the snow doesn't look any better. San Juan's!!! Wooohoooo!

Friday, June 19, 2015

June 19th

June 19th 2015
Today will just be a short story about water filtering. Hiking today was tough, we summited some passes that make the Sierra's look like a day hike in a park. Then we spent the afternoon postholing with snowshoes up to our shoulders.... It's over and I'm spent and a little injured, there was a nice slide down a rock face that left me a little scraped up.

Back to the story.
For the last few weeks I haven't been filtering water.  It started out of Grants NM and got really easy once I left Chama NM and entered the San Juan's.  There's snow melt everywhere up here. Down in New Mexico we would just hike until we found a "piped spring". Maybe I would carry a little more water but it was worth it.  Now for the current situation. Water is almost everywhere, so much that I don't even carry it to keep my pack light. As a result I have ended up drinking a lot of yellow, dirt tasting and floatie filled water.  My stomach has been slightly more upset but I can't blame the water yet. I'm told there are lots of cows ahead so I plan to resume the filtering.  My filter is a fancy ketchup pump called the Timberline Eagle. I wrote a review on it of you're interested.  I have Aqua Mira as a back up. Most of the other hikers don't filter or carry the Sawyer Squeeze, you can buy it at Wal-Mart.
So there is a little insight to the water out here and how we get it. Water will be a problem again in Wyoming, until then it's smooth sailing.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Some photos

No captions on these guys yet - will have to wait for computer access to do that.

Snowshoeing down a bank of snow.

Tennis shoes, waterproof socks and snowshoes.  Not your everyday thru hiker garb.


Squral and Holly arriving at Ghost Ranch.

Hikers in the distance.

Lots of snow

The gang chilling in a hotel room in Chama, NM.

At the pass after getting a ride from Trivia's parents. Time to do some hiking

The new gang getting ready to tackle some tough terrain
left to right - Atlas, Hardtime, Reststop and me.

still dealing with the cows

3 Zpacks tents and my Tarptent Contrail

Storms, an everyday thing in this section.

The trail from Chama up to the pass and to Toltec

Squral jumping a sweet creek.

Pretty much all of the hikers I've met so far at LETITBE's house.

This was the great entry into Colorado.  Not even a welcome to Colorado sign.

June 18th

June 18th 2015

Pretty much spent the last two days hanging out in Pagosa Springs CO. I went to the outfitters, a couple different eateries, the indoor/rooftop hot springs, and even got a round of discgolf in. Their club just happened to have doubles while I was in town. Man, I'm no good at disc golf these days. I also got to hang out with a bunch of great hikers at a fellow hiker named LETITBE's house. He hiked the Appalachian Trail southbound the same year as my dad, wonder if they met. Him and a couple other hikers there are triple triple crowners, or at least working on it this hike. That means they have hiked all 3 trails 3 times, the other two hikers are Lint and Reststop....
It was hard, most of the hikers were staying another day, but we managed to get out of town. It took forever and we didn't start hiking until 1:30. Back on the trail my pack weighs 100lbs, Holy crap. Everyone's pack was about 10-20 lbs over the pack's recommended weight. They were so heavy we ended up carrying our snowshoes in hand when they weren't being used. 

It rained a little and the lightning is pretty much the norm now, it doesn't even scare me that much anymore. Today we trudged through a lot of soft snow, one time I postholed so bad I went in up to my stomach. We all had some bad snow accidents and by the end of the day were physically and mentally spent.

I'm still hiking with Hardtime and Atlas, two guys that have their baseweight under 10 lbs. Hardtime is from Katy in Houston and Atlas just moved from Berkely to Atlanta. We lost Hardtime, as he likes to hike easy stuff, and we picked up Bigfoot - he just got back from taking 2 weeks off to wait out the snow. Staying at LETITBE's house, we learned about all of the hikers and what they are doing. Everyone is going north to Wyoming and hiking south. Those that are going north are walking roads or taking shortcuts. We are probably 10-15 of 100 that are actually doing this section. It's going to be brutal and awesome at the same time.
Bed time... Lol, really... I can't keep my eyes open anymore.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

San Juan's part 2

Hahaha, the San Juan Mountains....
The day started off well enough. There were some pretty dicey slope crossings, one of the few times I would have liked an ice axe. Then there was another really scary descent - since there was no visible trail and lots of snow there were no other choices. We eventually were able to dry out our gear, it's called a hiker yard sale. It was a good thing too because the day got better.
We started off climbing up to a pass/saddle, and after that we followed the ridge back up and around some peaks. We pretty much stayed right at 12,500 feet. We were surround by remnants of old avalanches, it would be pretty spooky to be around here when those were triggered. In the valley and mountains that we came from, thunderstorms were forming and getting nasty.  As soon as we got to the top and rounded the next mountain, a thunderstorm hit us from our left side. Lightning flashed all around us and there was nowhere to hide. We trudged on but instead of rain we were blessed with pea sized hail and a steady head wind.  From there the trail became even more exposed and the hail turned to rain. We pushed on... For about 20 min. We reached a cliff and realized a we might be in a pretty bad situation. Reststop and I were shaking pretty bad, I'm not sure about Atlas and and Hard time but as a group we decided to set up our tents and get warm. It was good timing too because things got really cold really quick. That was at 2 pm, since then it's dropped 40 degrees to around 30 and now it's snowing/sleeting on us. My tent is not made for this weather, there are icicles forming sound the edges and pools of slush forming on the bottom of the valley near the footbox. Now it's 4 pm and I don't think we're going anywhere.
Tomorrow will be day 4 and we are all starting to wonder if we have enough food. I brought 2 extra dinners and just had one for lunch.
I'm not a big fan of the slogan "embrace the brutality" by a guy named D-Low and in all of Yogi's books. In the desert, low on water, I would ponder it. Now I completely understand, this is the real deal. The CDT is not for the faint of heart or weak minded. It is snowing again...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

San Juans

Saturday June 13 2015
What an exciting day. Blog/journal done....
I do believe this is the first time I've gone inside my sleeping bag and completely sealed up to write this on my cell phone. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Anyway, today was pretty epic. Pictures do best if I ever get them up. The next town is Pagosa Springs, CO and I plan to get some pictures up... As always, we'll see. We started off the morning, and 95% of the day in our snowshoes. They are imperative to our success. The views and thunderclouds were everywhere, eventually the thunderstorms won and the views disappeared.
We decided to take a low route to avoided getting struck by lightning on the exposed ridges. So instead of 12500 feet we went down to 10500 feet. We snowshoed all the way down and hit a cliff, there really wasn't a trail because of all of the snow. At that point we realized our mistake, the creeks were flowing full force and pretty much impassable. We stupidly descended the cliff via a snow chute. Probably the first risky move of the trip, it's okay I have a SPOT!!!! For the couple of creeks we had to cross we just removed our socks and went through with just shoes. That was quickly followed by the freezing feet dance. The creeks were pretty bad, getting to them and through them was a challenge. Any wrong move would have created a pretty dangerous situation.
It was a long rewarding day, the group morale seemed to suffer throughout the day resulting in an early night. We only made 15 miles yesterday in good terrain and 17 today. Reststop thinks we have 27 to go. I really hope things pick up. A note on snowshoes.... I hate them.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Into the white

Friday June 12th 2015
Into the white.... Ready to go, we left town around 9 am. A hiker named Trivia had his parents come to visit in their superford travel van. They were nice enough to give us a ride back to the pass. The other option was to take the train, the Cumbres Toltec express, it looked like an adventure.
The four of us, Atlas, Reststop, Hardtime and myself, embarked on a journey into the great unknown. Only about 25 or so hikers have done this section and none in the last couple of weeks. Most are flip flopping north or going home.
The snow was cold, the water was wet and the hiking was slow going at 12,000 feet. We kept our morale up and the group slowly trudged on. Its safe to say our milage has been cut in half.  We all have snowshoes and waterproof socks, without those this would be impossible. We came across some pretty amazing scenic view and I tried to take photospheres of them. Something's wrong and they will not save. I'm really bummed out about that.
Around 8 pm we found a site that could fit 4 tents, that seems to be a bit tricky in snow and water covered expanses. The adventure into the San Juan's has just begun and it looks like its going to test all of us. The rain held off for the day but is going to get us soon. Here's to tomorrow.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

One Month

Thursday June 11th.
Today was my 1 month anniversary on the trail. I also finished New Mexico today. If you asked me if I would hike any of New Mexico again, the answer would be "no".  The last few miles into Cumbres pass were terrible. Lots of getting lost, wet feet, postholing, and general agony. I went via the new trail and it seems all of the lucky people took the old trail... It was exciting coming down to the pass at 10,200 feet.
I met some new hikers and hitchhiked with one of them down to Chama. Chama was a cool town and even more hikers were in town. Reststop and Hardtime were waiting for me and we are going to tackle the San Juans together.
It was like Christmas at the post office. I got new shoes, waterproof socks, snow baskets for my trekking poles and some cheap snowshoes. Its only 60 miles to the next pass, Wolf Creek Pass.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


June 10th 2015
It rained overnight and the forecast was for more rain. If only it was for more cowbell instead.
I packed up and headed over to where Squral and Holly were camped. We chit chatted and eventually got on the trail. The rain stayed at our backs and enabled pleasant hiking until around 1 pm. All hell broke loose, it was the thunderstorm of the season. Lightning flashed all around us, some strikes only a few hundred yards. We trudged on through the rain and lightning and prayed we wouldn't die. The rain never let up by the lightning eventually did.
For the rest of the day the theme was MUD. Every type you could imagine, red mud, clay mud, squishy mud, thick mud, life threatening mud, and the kind of mud that sucks you down with it. It was pretty bad and the rain kept turning on and off. Everything got soaked and cold. Lower Lagunitas camp site was a nice place to stop and make some coffee. Squral and Holly showed up after I packed up and climbed to Upper Lagunitas campground. Sounded like they were beat and going to call it. I kept going and 5 minutes later met some section hikers, they were hiking in style. But they needed to copy my maps due to a problem with getting lost.
The rain came and went, the sun even showed up for a very interesting sunset. I hiked my heart out but don't think I made it very far. I stopped around 8 to set up my tent and make some food. More mud and rain tomorrow, I can hear the wind and thunder in the background. Currently I'm getting rained on by small bands of storm clouds that won't give up. Hopefully I can make some miles up in the morning and get to Cumbers pass for a hitch to Chama. I'm out of food and looking forward to town, its been a few days.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Yogi the bear

Tuesday June 9th 2015

Our campsite was on a ridge and the sunrise made a spectacular appearance at 5 in the morning. I worked hard to sleep in and was happily greeted by Squral commenting on my tent. More high altitude hiking followed, we were all tired and sluggish. We just assumed it had to be because we were hiking at 10,000 ft all day.. The rain clouds toyed with our emotions all day and kept the temps cool. It was nice hiking. I don't know the name of the flower, it's yellow and grows at high altitude, but the flower's stalks were starting to grow everywhere. In a couple weeks or less the hills are going to be covered with giant yellow flowers. Now everything is just wet and muddy from the recent snow melt.

On a side note I finished the Carl Hiassen audiobook, "Chomp", and it was pretty funny.

We lucked out and the miles led us to a campground for the night. For some reason it is packed on a Tuesday.  After a graceful yogi of beer and a loaded roast beef sandwich it was time for bed. Somehow we ended up at different campsites, no biggie. Its starting to rain and I have a feeling it is just the beginning.

Monday, June 8, 2015


June 8th 2015
We left Ghost Ranch today. I was happy to leave but things did turn out for the best yesterday. While hanging out in the study lounge all day, we spoke with several different people as they would wander in. Most people were checking in for the week. It was Quaker week and we were told the entire place was booked, turns out the receptionists are just lazy and hate hikers. The same thing happened to some other hikers a couple days before.  Eventually, our saviors Jeanine and Hap showed up and offered us one of their two rooms. They were brother and sister and they happen to have 5 beds for the two of them. It was an amazing act of kindness and we really appreciated it.
The hike out of ghost ranch was straight up and out of the desert. We hiked through pine forests and aspen groves all day. We also got a taste of our first mosquitoes.  I think we even managed to get lost a couple times. It wasn't a high millage day but it was pretty enjoyable. Viper left us to get his high mile day in and said he would be to Chama NM, our next resupply, by Wednesday morning. I laughed and said I would see him Thursday.
Three more days to Chama and the snow that awaits in the San Juan mountains. On the trail things always work out for the best no matter how grim the situation looks. A lot of times you even get to experience people being kind and helpful, something that isn't too common anymore.  On a side note - it's nice to hike with Squral and Holly again. Things tend to be a little more relaxing and less taxing on my body.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ghost Ranch

June 6th 2015

Our mission: Ghost Ranch.

We awoke this morning slightly groggy from the exciting night before. We added up the remaining mileage to Ghost Ranch and knew we had to boogie today if we were going to make Ghost Ranch by 5:00 pm for dinner.  We hiked through some pretty amazing canyons, I tried to take some photo spheres but my cell phone camera was broken... didn't know that was possible.

We slowly trudged on and physically abused our bodies, I believe I pushed mine to the limit.  I used to take the occasional break, hiking with Viper has all but eliminated that luxury.  Throughout the day, huge thunder storms toyed with our emotions.  Eventually one got us, it was quite the spectacular event and we stayed relatively dry.

We made it to Ghost Ranch around 5:00 and met up with Reststop and Kevin "Beard" Vest.  I carried some of Kevin's stuff he lost for a couple hundred miles back around Silver City. He kindly repaid me with 2 beers duct taped to my resupply box in the Ghost Ranch office. Dinner was good and I finally have access to a computer.  I also finally uploaded all the the pictures I've been taking!


Viper stepped in cow poop, still laughing....

Thunder storms

we took a lot of lightning photos of this one.

Ghost Ranch