On Friday morning I awoke to the knowledge that I only had 10 miles into town. I got up really early and thought even if I do a mile an hour I’ll still get into town for lunch! Off I set and boy was it tough! The first was completely snow covered and it was so disorientating trying to navigate in the trees!I literally had to walk with my phone with the maps and GPS in my hand! Eventually I emerged from the forest with only 12% battery remaining and had about a mile and a half of a ridge walk left until the highway where o could hitch in. As I was walking along the ridge a storm started coming in and I could hear thunder. There was no way I was going back so I just had to walk faster. Thankfully I was off the ridge when the storm hit but now it was hailing and I was trying to get a ride into town. Who would pick up a soaking wet hiker in a thunder and haul storm?! The first truck (bakkie) went whizzing passed and I hung my head in dispair. About 100m down the road he slammed on brakes and came reversing up, offered me a ride if I’d sit in the back. Hell yeah! I leaned against the cab and was pretty well protected from the weather. As we got lower the sun came out and it turned into a very pleasant ride!
When I arrived in town I went to find WiFi to find everyone else and find out why the others hadn’t caught up to me. Well I found out that nuthatch has broken her leg while crossing a river about 30 miles from the highway. She had to be rescued by helicopter and was in Santa Fe awaiting surgery! Party saver was still on the trail, he wasn’t allowed to go with her and no word from AJ. I was alone in town. Cold wet and alone. It was definitely a low moment. I went and got myself some food (I found vegan burgers at the Box Car Cafe so that cheered me up. They also didn’t mind me and my wet stuff spread out everywhere!)
Eventually I got hold of AJ who was 8 miles out of town and decided he’d hike in to meet up with me. He’d only expected me in town the next day. He’d decided to just walk the road into Chama but it wasn’t very far so he’d been taking his time to arrive at the same time as we were expected.
When he arrived he told me that Party Saver was also going to try get into town tonight. He was doing a 34 mile day to get in. He got to the road around 9pm I think but couldn’t get a ride in at that time so he was asking AJ to find him a ride. Well we were eating in the pub that night and staying asking around if anyone would be willing to go up there for $20. We later realised a pub is probably not the best place to find a ride. That’s when we meet Karen. This fantastic alcoholic hells angel hippie! She managed to arrange for two separate people to go up there to fetch Party Saver, just in case one person fell through! Eventually at about 10:30 Party Saver joined us! Then there were 3! Tomorrow Nuthatch would hopefully be joining us too.
On Saturday Nuthatch managed to get a ride from the hospital to the motel we were staying at. She arranged for a ride out to some trail angels on Tuesday so we were going to hang out in Chama until she left. When she arrived, she had no pain medication so AJ and I volunteered to hitch to the nearest town with a pharmacy, Pagosa Springs, CO. I made a massive sign but as AJ and I left the motel a couple saw us and recognised us from the day before. They stopped to chat to us and when they saw our sign they offered to drive us to Pagosa. They had nothing else to do that day! We had a fantastic car ride with them, RL and Joanne and they generously drove us from place to place until we had everything we needed. We were quite grateful because Pagosa is very spread out. I managed to get new hiking poles, I broke mine moving a widow maker off the trail, and we got the medication for Nuthatch. Success!
We actually had a lot of fun hitching around Chama. The locals knew that hikers needed to get from one side of town to the other and were very willing to give us a ride if they saw us
We chilled out and relaxed at the motel until Tuesday when Nuthatch left and then decided to hitch to the trail, camp nearby and hike out in the morning. We came fully equipped with beer and food and got another ride from a friendly local who felt sorry for us standing in the sun! He went out of his way to drop us off at the pass, before turning around, we’re certain, to go enjoy happy hour at the pub.
Tomorrow AJ will be walking back to town to complete his continuous footprints before taking the road to Pagosa Springs and Party Saver and I will take the trail into the mountains and up to the divide.