The Chama Beehive

Day 43: June 5, 2019

Destination: CDT Mile 792.4 (Cumbres Pass/Chama)

Today’s Miles: 0

Start Location: CDT Mile 792.4 (Cumbres Pass/Chama)

Trip Miles: 664.5

I’m trying to catch up on my journal, so I’m going to keep these next two town entries brief. Today I spent figuring out what I’m going to do.

I learned in the last section that I really don’t enjoy the combination of high elevation, storms, and snow travel. It was stressful for me. So, I decided going through the San Juans is out for me at this time.

At first I thought I would flip up to Encampment in Southern Wyoming, then hike north to Canada and come back and hike Colorado last. I called locals in Encampment and learned that the snow conditions there aren’t bad at all. BUT, I found out that the Wind River Range and Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming got hit really hard with snow this year. Reports are that the rangers there haven’t been able to get in to anything over 9000 feet. Encampment to Shoshone is only about two weeks of hiking, so I would likely get to the Winds too soon. Likewise, if I went to Wyoming just before the Winds and hiked south, I might get to the Rockies and still have tons of snow.

I decided it was best to use one of the lower elevation alternates in Colorado and keep pushing north. This year it is virtually impossible not to rob Peter to pay Paul. I decided to cut out the San Juans and hike what is called the Great Divide Alternate in Guthook. There are a LOT of alternates in Colorado because of snow and storms. This one goes east of the San Juans, but does get up over 11,000 feet in two segments. It passes through the towns of Platoro and Del Norte. I plan to hike this route past Del Norte to the regular CDT, then go back up into the sky and hike at elevation to Monarch Pass, where I’ll head into Salida. I’ll bring my snowshoes. I bounced my ice axe and spikes to Salida.

I feel good about this because it’s two weeks of hiking, and a lot of snow in the Rockies and the Winds can melt in two weeks. I’ll get to Salida and assess whether or not I can proceed through the Rockies with minimal winter mountaineering.

After figuring that out, I picked up a box with my maps and winter gear that my parents kindly sent me. The Visitors Center in Chama has free bikes for hikers to use while in town, so I rode the 2 miles to the post office.

Chama was a beehive of hikers bouncing route plans off of each other. I was so grateful for this, because I largely decided on my route by sharing my dilemma with Mouse, and then her taking me over to the Y Hotel to talk with a hiker named Blasphemy who had already decided to hike the Great Divide Alternate.

I spent the rest of the day looking at elevation profiles and deciding what gear to take, and where to send other stuff. I let Zpacks know to send my tent struts and jacket to Salida. I ate a lot of food. It was a good day and a productive zero. I had a plan and felt reenergized. I also learned that the hikers in front of me in the last stretch did NOT drop Wilson in the trail. Poor Wilson.... I still want to relay his adventures at some point!

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