Continental Divide Trail – Day 36

June 6, 2023
Miles Today/ Total: 6.8 / 700.4

It rained on-and-off until midnight last night. I woke up early to a lot of moisture on my gear. I wiped off what I could, packed up and was on the trail before 6:00am.

The snow was much harder this morning. It supported my weight and I could hear it crunch underfoot. The trail started out on a forest road for about 1.5 miles. There had been lots of hikers before me and the path in the snow was pretty packed down and easy to follow.

When the trail turned off into the forest things got a little more interesting. The trail was still easy to follow in most places, but the number of blowdowns blocking the trail created multiple paths around them and a little more navigation was required to stay close to the trail. In some areas it was easier to follow footprints straight down the mountain than try to navigate through the series of switchbacks the trail made under the snow.

It took about 2 hours to hike the 3 miles to Dixie Creek, but after climbing up from the valley the terrain became more open with just occasional snow drifts to contend with. I reached to New Mexico / Colorado border and took a picture of the national forest boundary sign with license plates attached.

The trail from here to Cumbres Pass was also open meadows and the going was pretty easy until the last 1/2 mile which was downhill through the forest again. The trail was once again hidden under the snow and the easiest route was straight down the mountain rather than trying to follow the switchbacks.

After navigating 6+ miles of snow, ice, and mud over steep terrain, I slipped and fell on my butt in mud on a nice level patch near the trailhead. I cleaned off what I could in the snow and made sure I had all the mud off me at a stream near the trailhead.

The trailhead was just downhill of the pass crest and I walked back up to the crest in order to find a good spot to hitch from. I needed a spot where I could be seen from a distance and had a place for drivers to pull off to let me in. I found the perfect spot about 1/4 mile up the road in front of the Cumbres-Toltec railroad station. I was able to get a hitch from the 2nd vehicle that passed.

The gentleman who picked me up was out driving just looking for wildlife. He drove me down to Chama, stopping for me to get some pictures and video as the steam locomotive passed. He dropped me off in front of the Box Car Cafe and I went inside and ordered another great green Chile breakfast burrito.

After eating I called around for a motel room. I selected the Chama Motel just up the street for the night. It was still early so I headed to laundromat to do my laundry. Chama is pretty spread out with the laundry about .8 miles north of downtown and the grocery store about .9 miles south.

As I did my laundry I tried to find a new sleeping pad. Although my repair slowed down the leak it still would need additional air about twice throughout the night. I knew it would probably get worse over time. I found I could have one delivered through Amazon in 2 days – Thursday afternoon. I contacted Cumbres Suites and asked if they accepted packages for hikers and reserved a room for Wednesday and Thursday night.

I ordered the sleeping pad, a lens cover for my camera that I lost on the trail, and as I finished my laundry I discovered I had washed & dried my headlamp. I ordered a new headlamp as well. Finishing my laundry I headed to the Chama Hotel and checked in. It was an older hotel, but well maintained and well furnished. It had a lot of character and charm.

It ended up raining all afternoon and I went to Fosters 1881 Saloon for dinner. More Mexican food (I think every restaurant in NM serves Mexican food). Back at the motel I watched a movie on TV and turned in for the night.

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