6/2 Wednesday, day 51–We were waiting an extra day in Creede to see if our package (with new shoes for Honey Badger) would arrive. The UPS app had given me an error message late last night saying “Delay:Needs Attention”. After much searching online and a call to UPS, I found out that UPS doesn’t deliver to PO Boxes. I had called the Creede Post Office a few weeks ago and one employee said they do not accept General Delivery packages from UPS for hikers. A very kind employee, named Kim, gave me her personal PO Box number as a solution. Alas, it didn’t work out. However, our friend Doggone saved the day when he said we could give the address of the RV park where his wife is staying in Creede. He also volunteered her to hold onto 2 days worth of food for us, so we only had to hike out of Del Norte with 4 days of food. AND, I accidentally left my battery pack plugged in by the ice machine at Castle Lakes Campground, so NoID is trying to find a local who is driving from Lake City to Creede that will drop it off with Taxi Lady. Whew! Sure hope that all comes together in the next few days 🤞🏻. Honey Badger, Turtle, and I were able to get a quick hitch out of Creede with Kathy and Eric (who have lived in Creede for 40 years!). They were fun to chat with and gave us two cinnamon rolls they were going to give their friends in South Fork (they said, “we can bake them more later.”) Cinnamon Rolls just so happen to be Honey Badger’s favorite! We got a second hitch into Del Norte with a police officer. He felt bad for us because it had started to rain (with lots of lightening and thunder) and no one was picking us up! He did run my driver’s license before he started driving, lucky for me it was all clear! His name is Anthony and hiking the CDT is a dream of his. So that was fun! Adam, Amazon, Ladybug and Muir caught a hitch in an RV with a couple from France who have been touring the US for 4 months! We all met up at the grocery store, got our 6 day supply, handed off 2 days worth to Doggone and Taxi Lady, then started walking north. We really lucked out with a great camp spot and a phenomenal sunset!! My watch says 29,830 steps, 13.5 miles. Camped at Elephant Rocks, an alternate to the Great Divide Alternate.
6/3 Thursday, day 52–Left camp at 7am. Road walked on mostly dirt roads. We were in the Penitente Canyon area and the informational sign taught us: “It is said that in the mid-20th century, a few men from the local community painted the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe (on the side of a cliff) that’s still visible today. Local legend has it that they sat in tires and were lowered over the cliff on ropes to complete the painting.” We didn’t take a side trip to see it tho. We spent the afternoon/evening walking past private land on either side of the road. A highlight was crossing “hellsgate”, very cool rock formations! Finally, at 7:30pm we entered the Rio Grand National Forest and found a spot to camp. Saw a mama moose and her baby! Camped at mile 61.5 on the GDA. Guthook miles = 20.4, my watch = dead (I don’t have a battery pack to charge it, hopefully I’ll get mine back on Tuesday. NoID’s awesome friend, Tracy, mailed it today to the RV park where Taxi Lady is staying. Unfortunately, it won’t arrive until Monday).
6/4 Friday, day 53– Adam found us an awesome campsite last night and we all slept great. I saw glimpses of the mama moose and her baby again this morning, but I didn’t try to get closer. We took an alternate to the alternate, ended up bushwhacking for a mile or so, but it wasn’t bad at all. Adam said, “Since we’ve survived the Lionshead bushwhack (on the Pacific Northwest Trail), stuff like this doesn’t seem like such a big deal.” We found some nice day hikers who told us to hop in the back of their truck to avoid a highway walk. We made it to Luders Creek Campground and immediately a neighbor camper came over. Her name is Dorothea Frohner, originally from Switzerland, camping here for a few nights with her daughter. She was so kind, brought over some dark chocolate and pretzel snacks and said if we make it to Denver to call her (gave us her number) and she will give us REAL Swiss chocolate! 🍫 Then the campers on the other side of us brought over some chocolate covered strawberries 🍓!! The kids started a fire in the fire pit and it felt so good to stand next to it’s warmth! We are at mile 93.4 on the GDA and did about 20 miles today.
6/5 Saturday, day 54–We had a nice relaxing morning while we waited for Doggone to meet us at the Luders Creek Campground. He arrived around 10 and we visited while he ate his breakfast and rested (he did 10 miles before 10...we’ve never done that!). He hiked with us the rest of the day, slowing down to our pace, and we made it to Taxi Lady at Hwy 114 by 4. We picked up our 2 day food supply and got a little charge on my phone while we visited. A guy in a Jeep pulled up to see if we needed help. Once he realized we were hikers, hiking to Canada at that, he teased us about how much better it is to drive. Nice guy tho, and he wished us well after a quick visit. After saying goodbye to Taxi Lady, we made it about two miles before the rain and hail hit. We quickly found a bit of cover and set up camp, near mile 1018.9. Guthook miles = 12.1, my watch = still dead
6/6 Sunday, day 55–left camp at 7:30 (we were supposed to leave with Doggone at 7...but I decided we needed to filter more water for the climb, Doggone was gracious and waited). We were passed by two fast hikers, Old Head and Ozark. We visited with them a bit while they dried their gear and we filtered more water. There was only patches of snow on the trail, a huge relief!We had a huge elevation day with about 4K up and 4K down! We are beat! Camped at mile 1040.1 near Tank Seven Creek. Guthook miles = 21, my watch = 56,827 steps and 25.9 miles (Adam has charge to spare so I got to charge my watch last night!)
6/7 Monday, day 56–We started the day with a BIG climb. Amazon and I were lucky enough to be keeping pace with Doggone and listening to his stories. When he was a teacher he would take groups of middle school/high school kids (anywhere from 30 to 100 of them!) on backpacking trips through Outward Bound. He also said the 8th graders would learn about Georgia history and as part of that curriculum he would have the kids build rafts in teams and float down the Chattahuchie River. The fire department would come out to help supervise. He got to do so many cool things that just wouldn’t be allowed these days. After lunch, we realized we needed to really step up our pace if Doggone was going to meet Taxi Lady at Monarch Pass by 6pm. Doggone, Adam, and Amazon took the lead. Honey Badger, Turtle, Ladybug, Muir and I fell behind because of foot trouble. While Honey Badger worked on hotspots and Ladybug trimmed her toenails (something she should have done at lunch instead of watching The Great British Baking Show with Amazon), I had enough coverage to contact our reps at Vasque (over-the-top helpful customer service!). Honey Badger’s shoes still haven’t arrived at Taxi Lady’s RV park...so they are mailing a pair to my grandparents (who we get to see on the 16th! Yeah!). However, Honey Badger’s feet are hurting, her shoes are falling apart, and we still have 180 miles to go before the 16th. So we will have to work that out when we get to Salida. Our group of 5 fell behind the fast group of three...then the thunder/lightning/rain/corn snow hit, and then there was snow on the trail that slowed us down even more. Ladybug was in the lead, carefully tracking the footprints of the fast group, when I noticed we were on the wrong trail! The fast group had accidentally missed a turn on the Guthook red line at the Agate Creek Trail intersection. In their defense, there was A LOT of snow and the footprints they were following were leading to clear trail. When I noticed we were off trail, I had my group of 5 hike uphill until we were on the red line. We looked around and found NO footprints (except way off in the distance in the deep snow). I had the kids wait at the trail while I ran back to the intersection to see if the fast group left us a note that I’d missed. Nope. I ran back to the kids and we went through all our options. We had 7.8 miles ahead of us, at high elevation (we were at 11,900ft), the cold wind was blowing, it looked like more precipitation was headed our way, we were very exposed, and the red line trail appeared to be mostly covered in snow. However, the Agate Trail was looking snow free, dropped quickly in elevation, followed a creek, was only 7.1 to the highway, and had our families footprints on it. So we took Agate. About 1/2 mile in we heard Adam yelling for us. They had noticed about 1.5 miles in that they were on the wrong trail. He sent Doggone ahead, dropped his pack, left Amazon to guard it, and ran back to find us. He knew Ladybug would be watching the footprints, and of course he was right. It was a huge relief to be back together and the rest of the hike to the highway was beautiful. I’d been sending messages to Doggone and Taxi Lady on my InReach with very little response (messages aren’t getting in and out reliably and it is so frustrating!). They weren’t at the highway, so Adam stuck out his thumb and a guy in a minivan immediately slammed on his brakes to pick him up. Adam guessed that Doggone was at a different pullout and left to go look for them. Less than 5 minutes later, Doggone and Taxi Lady pulled up. Long story short, we all found each other and with the help of all our drivers we made it to Monarch Pass to stealth camp. Guthook = 14 red line miles then 7 alternate miles down the Agate Creek Trail to Hwy 50, my watch = 54,775 steps and 24.97 miles.