Friday, 24 October 2008

farewell colorado

Hi everyone,

Just arrived in Chama, New Mexico.

Colorado has certainly been one big beautiful challenge. Many days over the past few weeks have been spent hiking in the snow and ice. Really beautiful, but very tiring. The temp was down to about 6 degrees other day. (That’s Fahrenheit!)

The first major challenge of the last few sections was a pass called San Luis Pass. This involved 3.5 miles of snow traverse before the pass, winding your way around the slopes of a chain of peaks. The path was virtually hidden by the snow. The alternative would have been a massive 50 mile backtrack detour. Not really on the cards. In the end for me this was great fun and gave some splendid views.

On the next leg, I decided on a route called 'the Creede cutoff' which cuts off about 100 miles of the wild Western San Juan mountains. It was really too late in the year to be going through the main San Juan's, where 3 ft dumps of snow are likely. I would probably still be in there at Christmas. A few weeks ago a storm downed 1000s of trees so the cut-off path was covered in snow and fallen snapped and twisted trees. Kind of like the toughest assault course you can imagine. The path was difficult to follow or even find.

After a tough 18 mile day and 3 mile bushwhack, I camped a mile from the divide at 11000 ft+ and saw some whacking big bear prints right close to my camp. Probably a black but rumours of Grizzlies still are heard in the San Juan's.

The next day the big "up and over" gave me the choice of going through a large snow bank or scaling an icy 45 degree slope in my trainers and trekking poles! It was pretty dangerous without crampons, but I made it. Not an experience I care to repeat though. The views on the divide were awesome and I scaled a couple of 12000 ft peaks to stick the icing on the cake. After going through Wolf Creek pass (where they had 800 inches of snow last year!!), I then caught up with the American couple, Brian and Selena, again.

Once again, the weather quickly turned with snow and freezing 45 mile per hour gusts. We decided to drop off the trail and road walk the last Colorado section. (Still at about 10000 ft altitude) In the distance we could see the snow being blasted off the peaks, so it was a good call to hit the road, although a bit disappointing  to have to.

Roll on New Mexico, with about 700 miles left and hopefully some warmer temperatures!


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