CDT Day 43 (CO – Chama Again)

Not So Content in Chama

"Be prepared, just when you think you found your way, life will throw you onto a new path."
"What do you do when it does?"
"Don't give up. Take it one step at a time and..."
"Just do the next right thing?
"Yeah. You got it." - Mattias and Anna (Frozen II)

Slept like a rock last night and woke up to only a little snow this time. Rather than blowing right off though, this stuff was wet and clung to my tent making for a messy pack up.

I didn’t have an epiphany overnight or some reinvigorated energy to keep going north on the trail, so getting to town was still my objective today. No cars were driving by in the early morning. Not a good sign for hitchhiking, but once packed up, I just made my way to the road anyway. What else was I going to do?

I decided I would start walking the road with the goal of getting some cell service. Thinking it was 5 miles to Cumbres pass (it was actually more like 12+ miles), I set out to make it there, the spot I’d started the other day and I had service. Whenever I’d hear a car, I’d turn around, put a smile on my face in a hopefully not weird creepy way, and stick out my arm and thumb in the classic symbol for “please give me a ride in this direction!”

Beautiful, cold, morning road walking…

After the fourth or fifth car zoomed past, I made a frustrated body movement, like a shrug combined with an exasperated look up to the sky. The car that had just went by slowed and pulled over far up ahead. I started running. Not a great idea in elevation. By the time I got to the car, my side was hurting and I struggled to get my words out. The driver was busy cleaning out her front seat though. Eventually I delicately shoved my pack in the trunk and got inside the nice, warm, and dry vehicle.

My saviors name was Cyndy. She was on a work trip visiting different hardware stores in the region. We had nice conversation during the half hour drive or so and she dropped me off in Chama at the Rio Chama Espresso. Thanks to Cyndy!

Getting rides from strangers was something I grew accustomed to on the PCT, but this was my first hitch on the CDT! The trail often goes right into towns in New Mexico, so I didn’t really need to. I was extra thankful for this particular one and can’t remember a time when I’ve been more appreciative of someone’s kindness in picking up a dirty smelly hiker stranger!

At the coffee shop, I got right into scheming, but was distracted by other hikers around. The town was still full of folks hoping to go through the San Juans, and so I did end up giving my account to those who were interested in hearing what my experience was up there. I tried to be real and true, basically saying it’s tough but doable, especially if they were to get the good weather window. I explained I just didn’t have it this time and emphasized that I only went in 18 miles too, so no idea what its like beyond that. Most folks I talked to were smart and planned to go in with a group. I’m confident these folks will get through since I felt that was the main thing I lacked up there, others to talk to and have as support (my own failure in being stubborn going solo).

As far as my scheming, I had come up with a plan yesterday and overnight and this morning that I just had to put into action now. I was going to spend some time (around two weeks!) away from the trail back in Michigan, back “home,” before jumping ahead to northern Colorado and starting with Cheer and Snickers. I just felt that a re-group was what I needed. Maybe I’d pushed it to hard and crashed, maybe I was too focused on the goal and hadn’t been living in the moment causing me to burn out, maybe I was just simply tired and needed a break? I think a lot of factors played into this decision, but the more I figured out the details of it, the more it seemed the choice I needed.

Things aligned pretty quickly. My first stage would be a couple bus rides to get to Santa Fe and then a train ride over to Albuquerque. I had a few hours before the free bus left Chama at 12:30pm. While waiting, I spent time planning, booking a hotel and flight, and also hanging with my hiker friends

Turns out, most of the folks I’ve hiked around were now in town preparing to go out. I texted T-Bone and he met me at the coffee shop. Cutie joined too. And later, I would end up at the Boxcar Cafe with Just Mary. Got a massive sandwich for the train ride…

Special K, Quentin (now Quick Stop), Dictionary and Cross Creek, Channy, and others would gather around eventually too! A big group of hikers that had jumped up to Chama because of the Forest Service closure were there too. I met Olive Oil, Diva, Little Burrito, Seventy Pound Hammer and crew and ended up giving Olive Oil my microspikes since her package got delayed. She insisted on venmo’ing me. I hope they serve her well!

If I hadn’t made my plans and booked flights and such already, I would’ve been very tempted to gear up and join with these hikers. This is what I was missing before…the camaraderie, others to bounce ideas and questions off, and just friends to embrace the suck with in order to overcome these giant mountain obstacles. Alas, it wasn’t destined to be and after saying my goodbyes, happy trails, and “see you somewhere up the trail’s,” I made my way to the bus stop a few minutes before the scheduled pick up time. To my surprise, Little Burrito joined as well. She also was leaving the trail here and heading home to Denmark.

Well… everything with my two buses went good, and then with the train too, and my Uber ride. I made it to a hotel near the Albuquerque airport and spent the little bit of time I had left in the day drying and organizing things into my pack.

I got to admit, yesterday when hiking out from the trail, part of me felt strongly that I had no desire to continue hiking this trail at all. Just be done and move on to whatever’s next. I was that tired. Being in town, being around my friends, and getting a little separation from the trail already allowed me to regain my motivation. Talking with Little Burrito on the bus helped too. We both had done the PCT in 2019 and felt similarly that maybe this time on the CDT we’d put the goal of doing the thing ahead of the experience itself.

This was an unexpected and sudden change in my CDT plans. I had been pushing it, putting in big miles, and believing that not only was I going to make it through Colorado and keep my continuous path, I was going to do it quickly and catch Snickers and Cheer.

Well, didn’t happen that way, but that’s alright. Things rarely happen the way we think they will in my experience. Writing this post a few days removed from these actual events, I say confidently now that I’m very motivated to keep at it and hike this trail. I’m excited to join with friends and to soak in the beauty of the trail. Stress less about making big miles and simply let it be. And yet… like evil Chancellor Palpatine, “I assure you, my resolve has never been stronger.”


Might be a bit before new posts show up, but they’ll be coming!

2 thoughts on “CDT Day 43 (CO – Chama Again)

  1. Sherry Hoekwater

    When I think of you hiking the trail I am aware of the tough physical work that it entails. But I don’t always realize that it often requires a mental work out too. This night/day seems like it was a difficult one and I’m glad you shared it.
    I’m very proud and amazed at what you’ve accomplished so far. I for one am glad you chose to leave trail for awhile and come home. It was good timing for us and I think for you too.
    Plus you’ll be energized and excited when it’s time to hike onward! ❤️

    Like

  2. Scott Prins

    Let the journey be the destination

    Cousin! I have finally caught up on your trail adventure – i am very delayed indeed.

    I am struck by how the trail life seems to provide such analogous philosophical lessons for life in general. The experience you describe here reminded me of some Buddhist and Taoist ideas that I’ve recently been interested in. Its the word Furyu, which translates as “wind” or “atmosphere”, but has a more complex philosophical meaning. It means living somewhere between trying to fully control your life (forcing things) and simply living like a leaf floating on a river (no control over your experience). The example i read is that Furyu is the old man fishing on a creek and simply enjoying the flow of the creek, the birds chirping, the breeze, etc – the entire experience; it is not the fisherman (as I notice myself being far too often) that is so pre-occupied on catching fish that they miss out on the joy of fishing.
    _________________________________________

    I wish our michigan time would’ve overlapped – but maybe our trails will cross later this year still 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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