WEEK 7 ON THE CDT - THE BENNETT FAMILY ("KIDS OUT WILD")
5/25 Tuesday, day 43–Left camp at 8am because it was too cold to wake up early! We were set up perfectly so that the morning sun hit our tents and melted the ice. We left the CDT at Guthook mile 767.3 in order to avoid over 8 miles of deep snow which still blankets the trail. We were on the fence about this decision, until we met a group of three hikers and a dog headed south. They told Adam how miserable it was and those words made up his mind. We took forest service roads, which still had a fair amount of snow and lots of mud, and made great time. We crossed into Colorado with much celebration! About two miles later we had our first encounter with a bear! Tristan was up ahead of us and must have startled a bear that was in the trees to his left. Kaia just happened to be in the bear’s path of escape and she let out a yell when she realized what was running towards her (at first she thought it was Muir running and panting heavily). The bear turned away from her just as Muir started chasing it. Adam called Muir back and the bear ran off into the woods. It happened so quickly that I failed to catch anything on camera (I was so concerned that taking a video didn’t even enter my mind). The bear was a beautiful color of chocolate brown, very soft and fluffy looking, about 3-5x the size of Muir (none of us can agree on the actual size). It was small for a bear, I thought, and my first reaction was to worry the mama was nearby. Adam says it was definitely a black bear and maybe young, but not young enough to have a mama bear around. We walked about 3 more miles to Cumbres Pass and all of us got a hitch in a transit van with Heather (who is going SOBO on the CDT from Cumbres to Grants starting tomorrow) into Chama. We are camping at a nice RV park with laundry and CLEAN showers! 👏🏻
5/26 Wednesday, day 44– I woke the kids up at 7 so we could start laundry and make sure all devices were charged before noon checkout. A very nice lady visited with us while she was doing laundry too and volunteered her husband to drive Adam and I to the post office (so that we didn’t have to walk 3 miles with heavy packages). He was happy to do it AND he said he would drive all of us to the trail at 2pm, on his way to go fishing. Perfect! We got to visit with several hikers while we did chores, learning about their various plans to deal with all the snow in CO. We’ve decided to take the low route because everyone on the high route is using snowshoes, crampons, and ice axes. A trail angel contacted me on Instagram and said she would meet us at Cumbres Pass at 2:30 with food! Ok! She brought us fried chicken and side dishes and even some treats for Muir! Her name is Michelle and she is such a cool lady. There was another hiker at Cumbres Pass, trying to hitch into Denver (to take some time off to let the snow melt). Michelle offered him food too then loaded ALL of us into her truck. She got us to Elk Creek campground then handed everyone ice cream sandwiches! Always a morale boost 😉. We are now working our way to South Park, on forest service roads, with a six day food supply.
5/27 Thursday, day 45–We left camp at 8am, the ice wasn’t in a hurry to melt off our rain flys so we packed them up wet. We tried to take a short cut but ran into private property. To get around that, we had to do 8 miles instead of 4 and ford the Conejoes River. Our first attempt at crossing the river was in an area too swift for even Adam. So we went up river about a half mile to try again. I was holding Ruby’s hand, thinking I was keeping her safe. I lost my footing twice and Ruby helped me regain my balance! She is amazing! My clothes and half of my pack got soaked, but fortunately everything inside my pack stayed dry! We took a long lunch to dry off then had a beautiful walk down a dirt road for about 11 miles. My watch says 44,103 steps and 20.1 miles. Camped at 28.3 of the Great Divide Alternate route.
5/28 Friday, day 46–Left camp at exactly 8am, very cold morning! We made it to the small town of Platoro by 11:30 and stopped in at the Gold Pan Cafe for lunch. The owner was very nice and gave us a plate of watermelon for free along with our three orders of cheeseburgers and fries (that we split between the 6 of us). He warned us not to filter water from the Alamosa river because of run offs from the mines. Everything coming from the north side is bad, but the south side is fine. It is going to be a long water carry, but he filled up our water bottles from his tap (promised that it was all state tested and chlorinated). We ran into Cheshire Cat at the Stunning CG. He fed us pineapple, watermelon, and oranges. We enjoyed visiting with him while we sat at the picnic table and ate our dinner of cold soaked ramen and meat sticks. Then we logged another 5 miles until we finally found a spot to set up three tents (at a small pull out on a hairpin turn, at 11,011 ft). Camped at mile 46.7 on the GDA, my watch says 49,647 steps and 22.7 miles.
5/29 Saturday, day 47–Had a beautiful view of the Prospect Creek waterfall this morning. We left camp at 7am, hoping the anticipated snow would still be frozen solid. The Elwood Pass area was breathtaking and we had great weather all day! We timed it just right and made it through the snowy sections with no trouble. Poor Kaia did have trouble tho and started throwing up around 11am. We took a 4 hour siesta so she could rest. I melted snow with our stove and filtered it (it took me about 3 hours to get 13 liters!). We are still close to the mines so I wanted to be safe (apparently there is a lake nearby so full of arsenic that it looks red in the satellite view). We are thinking Kaia has altitude sickness and plan to take it easy tomorrow so she can recover! Camped at mile 9.8 on the Elwood Pass Alternate (elevation 9,491 ft) my watch says 35,529 steps and 16.32 miles.
5/30 Sunday, day 48– We had a slow morning, making sure Kaia was feeling better before we pressed on. Took a pic of our 3 Vasque Satoru Trail shoes wearers and our dog who hates shoes. We had a 7 mile dirt road walk, getting dusted by countless ATVs and side-by-sides. A very nice man from TX gave us all a hitch into South Fork then we had to split into two groups to get to Creede. Kaia, Tristan, and I got a ride with two guys who had just driven to Del Norte to pick up a puppy! He is the same breed as Muir and his new owner wants to hike the PCT with him someday! Our drivers, Josh and Ben, gave us a quick tour of Creede, including a drive past the fire station that is in an old mine! Such a cool town! Then Josh and Ben went back to South Fork (20 min one way) to see if they could pick up the rest of our family. Unfortunately, they don’t have cell phones with reception in this area so I couldn’t call them when Adam texted 5 min later to say they got a ride. We were trying to get to Lake City that night, not realizing it was almost an hour and a half from Creede. It was getting late, but I put a message on the “Creede Helping Creede” Facebook page that we were looking for a ride to Spring Creek Pass and almost immediately Ed said he could take us! He showed up in his truck and as we were all loading up, Josh and Ben came back to check on us! So kind. Our friends, Betty and Grant, said they would meet us at Spring Creek Pass where Ed was going to drop us off. Ed is a super interesting guy who once tried to buy Red Mountain, our favorite ski resort in Canada (he had lots of great stories). It was 10pm by the time we met Betty and Grant, way past hiker midnight. They had their truck and a Jeep they had borrowed from their campground and drove us back to Castle Lakes. Long day! No Guthook miles, my watch says 23,401 steps and 10.8 miles.
5/31 Monday, day 49–zero. We had so much fun at Castle Lakes Campground and Lake City with our friends, Grant & NoID. We met them in the PCT and had to do some reenactment photos 😂. They spoiled us rotten and we really enjoyed our time with them!