South Fork and Durango
Day 51 and 52 – 6/11/17 and 6/12/17
Total miles – 734.6
Everyone woke this morning with the excitement of a town day: showers, laundry, real food, soft bed with a pillow, toilet, water faucet . . . the greatest joys of a thru hiker. We also were hoping for an easier day of hiking than the past few days. The day started with trail, but it did not stay that way for very long. We quickly got to the north side of the mountain and into snow. We also were treated with frigid wind. We did not have far to go, just 12 miles to Wolf Creek Pass, however just like that past days, hiking was very slow due to snow. We ended up on a ridge above Wolf Creek Ski Resort. At one point, Treeman had to cut foot holes straight up a cliff side. He made a ladder in the snow twenty to twenty-five feet high. One by one, we cautiously climbed up. After we all were safely up, we decided to cut down into the valley instead of traversing around it. That way we could get out of the snow faster. Bling and Joon had fun pretending they were skiing as they went down. At the bottom of the valley, there was a big river crossing with no way across. Papa Raven and Treeman made a bridge from some falling trees that were not too big to move. The new bridge worked perfectly as we went across. We reached the road to Wolf Creek Pass. Now we had to hike one mile up the busy highway to the trail junction. As we walked along the road, there were many bicycles heading the same direction. When we got to the pass we found out that this was the first leg of the five day Ride the Rockies race. The worst part was that they were all spending the night in Pagosa Springs, right where we needed to go. There would not be a room available anywhere. Treeman and Quick Silver were heading the other direction to South Fork, which is a smaller town, to resupply. Treeman had lined up a ride for the two of them. He talked to Karla and she agreed to take us down to South Fork too. Despite this special offer, we still needed to get to Pagosa Springs because that is were our resupply box was. After explaining this to Karla, she said she could take us to Pagosa tomorrow morning. She had to go to Durango and Pagosa was on the way. So down we went to South Fork and had a quiet evening in a wonderful hotel.
We have two friends, Sunny Side Up and Over Easy who we meet on the PCT in 2015. They live in Durango. They were hoping to meet us in Pagosa. I contacted them and found out that Over Easy was returning home from a wedding and he would be driving through South Fork tonight. We arranged to have dinner. Quick Silver, Over Easy, and all The Ravens went to a nice Mexican Restaurant. Over Easy invited us to his house for tomorrow night. I talked with Karla and she was OK with it. So it was all arranged. Karla would drive us to Durango tomorrow, with a quick stop in Pagosa Springs to pick up our boxes.
Mama’s Ravens thoughts on Chama to Wolf Creek Pass
I wish I was a great writer to put in words my thoughts on this section. It is a jumble of emotions when I try to analyze what it was like. These past five days were the most exhausting and terrifying hiking we have ever done. A mountain climber I am not, and that is the skills that were needed in this area. Nonetheless, with no technical skill we all survived! Everyday we faced tough snow conditions that were relentlessly, physically demanding. The steep traverses across vertical cliff sides were just as hard but with the added element of fear. Each step taken, was potential of a horrible accident of slipping and fallen to the bottom of the ravine. My fears were magnified, with Bling and Joon. I was as much afraid for myself as I was for them. However, my two children were having the time of their lives despite my concerns. They both are natural born mountain goats. Despite the difficulties, there were many events I will cherish forever: Quicksilver delivering a different fudge each evening to our tents. Treeman and Papa Raven making river crossings passable for Joon with large rocks and logs. After completing a terrifying traverse, looking back at what we had accomplished with amazement. Joon giving me words of encouragement that all will be OK! Bling taking the lead with Quicksilver and Treeman at scouting the trail through the snow. The evening sunsets and the snow capped mountains that surrounded us after our hard days work. All our efforts were rewarded grandly.
Karla picked us up around 11:00 and with a few stops we were at OverEasy’s house around 1:30. Karla, thank you for all your help. You made are complicated commute, effortless!! OverEasy opened his house to us, showers, laundry, runs to the grocery store and outfitters. We kept busy all afternoon. In the evening, we went to an amazing burrito place for dinner where Mama Raven said she had the best fish tacos she has ever had. She also said we are going to have to move to Durango just so she can eat and savor their fish tacos regularly. After dinner, we walked up and down the old downtown, looking in all the shops and ending the evening at an ice cream store. We all really enjoyed our evening. It was a nice change of pace to our usual routine. When we returned home, we finished packing. Tomorrow morning OverEasy will drive us back up to Wolf Creek Pass. Treeman and Quick Silver will meet us there. We will be delayed a bit, I lost my sun glasses today and we need to stop at Walmart and pick up another pair.