CDT Day 156 (CO – Creede to Cumbres Pass)

South San Juan Majesty

  • CDT Miles: 849.5-823 (26.5)
  • Total Hiked: 2,701.4
  • Elevation Range: 10,660-12,670

I finally felt like I was back in the groove today. Maybe it was just that my pack was getting lighter. Maybe I was just in a funk before. But today was a good day and I was able to hike and think and soak in this stunning wilderness while still out here. It really was a gorgeous day.

Things kicked off with a short climb. At the top, the trail wound through a lower area with higher stuff to either side. There was a group of mule deer up on the rise to my right that I spooked.

It appeared I was going to head up into new snowy peaks today. I could see them off in the distance where I was heading. First though, it was down to Wolf Creek Pass.

I shot up again afterwards, hiking some nicely graded switchbacks through the Wolf Creek Ski area. I made my way to this escarpment and took a break along the edge looking out. There were some ski lifts and buildings behind me, but didn’t seem like anyone was around at this point in the season.

Post-breakfast was some nice cruising. Relatively easy traverse walking and super beautiful views looking off to the west. Comments in my app talked about some sort of knife edge alternate that went up top of a spiny ridge, but I was content with the nice trail set before me 🙂

Came across a mule deer buck sunning itself…

I must have stayed pretty high today. It felt that way at least. Trees were sparse, there was some snow every now and then, and it just felt remote.

Finally found some orange.

Getting closer to the snow.

Spotted a coyote trotting along all stealthy-like in this wide open area…

Nearing 5pm, things were really getting groovy.

The sun was starting to play hide and seek behind the mountains.

Made it to the South San Juan Wilderness!

It was getting later by this time (for my typical day), post-6pm, and eyeing up the elevation profile I was a tad concerned. I was still up around my highest elevation, around 12,500 feet elevation. I hoped to get down lower to camp, but underestimated the snow and the time I spent taking videos and pictures, and so it was still a few miles to go before the trail started down. Did I make it to this point on the CDT only to get myself caught in a scary cold night situation?

I trudged on towards the base of Summit Peak and even in the situation with darkness looming, couldn’t stop being moved by the awesomeness of this area!

The trail swung right around this tarn (glacial lake)…

For some reason I felt like this was the time to abandon the trail and look for a tent site out of the snow and wind (as much as possible). I think it was when I looked ahead and the next stretch was completely covered and uphill and felt like it’d take me forever. So yeah, I went rogue and took off downhill in search of a snow-free spot.

After searching for a while, I settled on a lumpy slanted spot. It was stunning with the sunset colors popping up as I was setting up and I was just happy to have made the decision to set up and get warm. I ended up cooking dinner right inside my tent, something I normally avoid since it adds smells that bears might like right inside. I guess I figured the bears wouldn’t be up here in the snow?

Once inside, I felt a lot better about the situation. I’d gotten cold and a bit anxious about the situation during the last hour of hiking, but felt safe and toasty once bundled up!

Albums of the Day

“Revival” by Judah & the Lion (2022)

“The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place” by Explosions In The Sky (2003)

Podcast of the Day

“This Land – S1: 2. The Tribe and S1: 3. The Opposition”

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