I left Chama with 6 days worth of food in hopes of bypassing Pagosa Springs which is a long hitch. It is a total of a 190 miles, through the hardest terrain to date. The good thing is, there should be plenty of water, which normally I have been carrying a lot of. Also Raisins and I will now be on separate Schedules cause he is planning to go into Pagosa Springs.
After buying some extra food I shouldered my heavy pack and got a quick ride back to the pass. Meanwhile, Raisins was looking for Internet.
I made great milage while making my way up into the San Juan's and found a great little camp and slept well. The next morning, I continued on for my first day of solo hiking. The terrain was steep at time and the trail was nothing more than goat trails. Sometimes there would be some steep snow across the trail, but nothing too much to worry about. It was enough to have a lot of respect for the hikers a few weeks ahead.
That night I was hit by a windy rain/sleet on top of a high plateau. I saw golden ray, and tried to say hi, but he did not see or hear me. He was busy setting up his tent in the trail. He is deaf and that is how I knew it was him. It got so cold that night, I slept on my food, due to not having a sleeping pad.
The next morning I got up early due to not being able to sleep anyways. The hike to wolf creek pass was easier, and I saw my first signs of fire. There was a helicopter putting out a small fire on the cliff below me. I was relived that there was not much to worry about.
Shortly there after, I was proven wrong. There was more smoke coming from the North West. After crossing the pass, I sat down and reviewed the maps. It looked like it would be close, but ok. I progressed on.
That evening I passed the main part of the fire, and it was on another range to the west. I did get a bit smoked out though, and my eyes began to burn. I did find a good camp, but once again I did not sleep well, due to constantly checking out the fire.
The next morning I moved fast and quickly passed what was turning out to be a very large plume of smoke. I gained ground all day though and was safely back to a normal hike, I thought...
Around 7pm I noticed a small hint of smoke coming from my next ridge. I topped to see a tree burning that was obviously set by a passing FS plane. There is just no other way.
In a panic I began to run around it as fast as I could to the black of night. I found refuge on the opposite side of the mountain.
The next morning I moved as fast as I could tell I was once again in a safe area. The plume of smoke looked Like Hiroshima, and was quite the site. I crossed into the next range an circled it all day.
The next morning I met 3 more thru-hikers who walked and hitched around, as well as Raisins who did the same. We were later that night encountered by two nice guys on vacation from Texas, who gave us beer as food. Now buzzed, we made early camp.
The last morning out we raced to the highway and to a easy hitch to town. I am in LakeCity now with a few more thru-hikers enjoying my first real stop along the way. This is easiest the best stop, and the town is Awesome. I wish I lived in such a great place. There is a Ultra Marathon going on and the whole town is festive. Life is real good here, and the positive vibes are everywhere.
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