CDT Day 108: zero in/near Lake City, CO – Wagon Wheel Cabin Camp
Miles hiked: 0
Total miles: still 1866.7
This was not your typical zero day. Not being in a town at all for most of the day meant that I was off the hook of doing my town chores. No grocery store to resupply at, no wifi or cell service. Just camping with good people in a beautiful place with some darn good dogs.
The night was cold, though nothing we’re not used to at this point, and this morning we had a campfire to warm us up. The sun was bright and the wind calm. A gorgeous day. The western tip of the San Juans gleamed under their new blanket of snow to the south. They gave me a lot to think about.
SpiceRack and I made pancakes for the crew, and I again had more than my fair share, more than is socially acceptable. But when there is leftover batter and a group of full stomachs, I am happy to do what must be done.
After breakfast, we went for a short stroll around the property. It was legitimate bushwhacking, which made me grateful for the trail that I can sometimes take for granted, or even downright hate when it gets tough or rocky. Again the view of the San Juans was superb and intimidating. Big mountains. Endless fetch with Maggie the dog, endless Uno and snacking around the fire, and a little fiddling with the tent. The day progressed.
Spice and I felt like we needed a night in a motel to settle and thaw before this next big mountain section, so we all loaded back into the car for the trip back to Lake City. We checked into a cabin at the Wagon Wheel, then started cooking all the things we had left to eat, eating while we went. Spaghetti, Thai noodles, beans, veggies, lemon bars(thanks, Tommy!), salt spinach salad. All of it.
We tried to resupply at one of two grocery stores in town, but were turned off by the limited selection and huge prices. We will try the other store tomorrow. Then we swung by the hostel to check on Crunchberry and Rooster. They were living like kings, with the whole place to themselves. It smelled like burnt cookies and they explained their ongoing drama with the oven.
We discussed the weather, which looks clear, if a bit cold for the next 10 days, which will maybe see us through to New Mexico. This was great to see. And sobering. We have the weather on our side, now we have to execute. Sure, that might just be hiking, something we’ve done plenty of already, but this section through the San Juans is expected to be the toughest section yet. Worth it, but tough. High elevation, exposed, a lot of up and down. And now it’s here.
Spice and I made it back to the cabin for final showers and sleep. I tried to fit in a touch of internet chores, but there wasn’t much time before my eyelids began to droop. I was a little stressed about not having gotten much work done, but accepted that this stop wasn’t about that. It was about people, and that’s enough.
Besides, the weather looks great. What more could I ask for? If you had told me in April that I’d have a window to hike the San Juans in mid-October, I would have told you that you’re crazy, but been secretly thrilled. This is the grand finale of Colorado and maybe the climax of the whole CDT. Though there are many more miles left to hike, not to mention the entire state of New Mexico, the San Juans have felt to me like the last and biggest hurdle to leap before a desert cruise through the land of enchantment. I know this is oversimplifying and that NM will probably kick my butt, but that’s just how this feels. That’s how it has felt since before the beginning.
To bed with those thoughts on my mind. This is it. Here we go…