Monday, August 17, 2015

June 2 Day 39 - June 10 Day 47 - The Waiting Place - Durango

(Snow gear! Merrill shoes, micro spikes, ice ax!!)

And now we take a break from trail. This is the inevitable extended week of zeros to wait out the snow. This is something we were all warned about before heading onto trail. You might have to wait a week or two at different points due to weather. Plan to take 30 zero days because you just never know. This was the start of that for us. We had made our decision. We were going to Durango to wait out the weather and decide what to do.
(Deep breaths)

Twinkle, Ducky, and Badger were meeting Big Foot in Chama and they were all going to drive up to Durango and do some fun side trips as they waited out the snow. They were kind enough to give me and Guy on a Buffalo a ride there, where we met Guy's friend, Claire. She picked us up from Serious Texas BBQ (I dunno how serious it was really) and we said heart-felt goodbyes to our new friends. It was great seeing Big Foot again since I started with him in the shuttle and he gave my pack its first shake down, getting rid of the first round of extra weight back in Lordsburg.
(Excuse my finger. This is Claire and these are cows)

We spent the next week on an Organic Dairy farm with Claire and her roommate Phil. Claire is the herd manager, dealing with the cows and organizing their schedules.

Phil is the Cheese Apprentice, learning all about cheese making and helping the farm cultivate some new varieties. It was really cool to say the least. 
(Phil making cheese)

We ate a lot of great food there! Wow!  Guy and I, mostly me, made dinner every night for Phil and Claire as a big thank you for hosting us and letting us use the car!

Claire's car is a stick shift, something I had dabbled with in Chicago, but had never mastered. She somehow felt confident enough with my driving skills to hand me the keys for the week. After a very short refresher course, I was on my own. Three peddles and many stalls later I felt pretty comfortable getting around Durango in the car! This was not a skill I had expected to pick up while on trail! So funny!

Guy and I spent our days exploring Durango, rock climbing at the gym, rafting on the Animas River, doing yoga in the grass, eating a lot of food, and researching the conditions in Colorado. We spent our evenings cooking and playing board games with Phil, Claire and others on the farm. It was the perfect little vacation from trail life. We were still in touch with Bearclaw and Grim to see what tey were planning to do.

Bearclaw made a decision to rent a 12 person van and drive it one way up to Canada with any hikers who wanted to flip north. She asked if we wanted to. Time to decide. At this point I was so over this decision that I really didn't care. It didn't mater to me in the end. All I wanted was to hike this trail and enjoy myself. The uptight social rules about hiking all the way through one way (no flips) was illogical to me. People out here create these standards for thru-hiking that are unnecessary. I just couldn't wrap my head around why you were less of a hiker if you flipped, or if you skipped 3 miles of paved highway walking, or didn't finish the entire thing in one year due to weather. And so I just want ANY decision to be made about what to do.
(Claire, Guy, and Phil)

We finally settled on flipping up with Bearclaw. We would drive up to Glacier National Park, to the Canadian Border and become South Bounders. Flip Floppers. Phew! The snow was very low there, so Glacier would be safe and beautiful. The San Juans would be much safer in September when we would arrive back in Colorado. It seems like a no brainer now, looking back on it.
(Guy, Claire, Phil, and me)

June 8th the van arrives and we say tearful goodbyes to our lovely hosts, Claire and Phil. We load ourselves into the van and head on our way. It takes us 3 days and a fair few stops to grab other hikers who had found their way to various cities to wait out the snow. 12 hikers and 12 packs as big as hikers somehow managed to fit into this van. It was cramped. We were all very grateful to get out in Glacier and grab our permits. National Parks require permits for camping in designated camp sites. It's rather annoying for thru-hikers who are used to camping wherever they end up at the end of the day. We did it though.

(Taking a break from the drive to admire the mountains. Haircut courtesy of Bearclaw, Dirtmonger, and Handy Andy in Lake City. Lumbar pack courtesy of Duluth Pack!)

Guy was keen on spending time with Scout and Frodo, a lovely couple he met through the Pacific Crest Trail, and they had taken Grim and done the Great Divide Basin to get it out of the way while we had been bumming around Durango. The basin, you see, is where the mountains split and go around 120 miles of dry, tick infested, desert. It's best to just get it over with. So, Guy and I were on the same camp schedule as Scout, Frodo, and Grim, while all the others who had joined us, Papi Chulo, Beads, Kramers, William, Axle, HoJo, Bearclaw, and Dirt Monger, were on an different set of camping schedules.
(Hiker Trash waiting for permitting to be sorted)
(Me, my dreams, and my Duluth lumbar pack)

And so we were finally lookin at getting back on trail tomorrow. After all of this time and stress. Glacier, here we come!

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