CDT Day 114: Creede Cutoff Junction to Wolf Creek Pass (Pagosa Springs, CO) – Cozy Ridge Camp to Motel SOCO
Miles hiked: 14.3
Total miles: 1984
Farewell to the San Juans. One more climb to a high place, then easy basin hopping to Wolf Creek Pass and a ride to the town of Pagosa Springs, or Pag-town as the locals call it. My mind had clearly shifted to town mode already. All I could think about was food, but with a forced break, tried to be present one more time in these incredible mountains. What a stretch of trail. I am so grateful for the opportunity to traverse the San Juan highs and lows, which aren’t that low at all. High clouds and cold wind might be indicating a shift in the weather. If that’s the case, we really did just pull it off. Here’s to the mountains and a late winter!
The wind wooooed and whirrrred in the tree tops and along the ridge all around us all night, but it was perfectly calm at our spot, which enhanced the coziocity. I slept better than I had in weeks. I clambered out of the tent to an ominous yet beautiful scene of gray. High clouds blanketed the sky in a way not seen since our last snow. A shift in the weather? Sunrise was pretty great, then we got hiking.
A great hunger for burritos drove me up the final big climb above the trees. Walking along the ridge it seemed like we would reach the absolute high point, but instead took a sharp turn across the ridge and down into a protected east-facing basin with a big lake in the bottom. I felt a little strange. Maybe just cold and dehydrated. Maybe getting a cold. Maybe just worn out. We stripped off layers after a water break as the sun started poking through. 9 miles to the road.
Elaborate and intricately constructed breakfast burrito fantasies filled my time through more basins and trees. I stopped to lie in the sun and air my feet one last time at a particularly beautiful place that reminded me of northern Yosemite with a bundle of granite and tiny lake. I warmed in the sun. Savored the place.
Spice joined me, and then we were off. We followed the trail away from the highway up to the radio tower for some reason, then down to Wolf Creek Pass. I couldn’t tell if I was hearing a rushing stream or the rustling of dead leaves at times. A sign of the season. A guy out for a day hike saw me coming and offered a ride into Pagosa Springs before I could even ask. Good conversation on the ride down the mountain, back into the world of golden aspen and green things.
We didn’t dig the vibe at the first motel we checked out and hoofed it through old town to a different one, stopping at Subway along the way for provisions. It’s no burrito, but it will do. Motel SOCO felt like home immediately as we walked through the yard with corn hole and disc golf. People sitting in the lounge cheered us on. Our room came at the right price and with the right amenities.
Spice and I were both too tired to get motivated to do chores so the list slowly shortened without any action. Laundry? We’ll just wash our clothes in the shower. Dinner? Let’s just get what we need at the grocery store. Hot springs? Eh, a shower is good enough for me.
Our friendly neighbor saved us a tough hitch in the dark to buy groceries. He took us to the store, waited for us to shop, then took us back. “Nothing better to do,” he said. There is always something better to do than sit in a Walmart parking lot, but his kindness was much appreciated. We collapsed back into our room, just enough energy to spread a towel on the bed to catch our crumbs. Drama on Terrace House captivated our attention while we shared hummus and bread and carrots and ice cream and a burrito and cereal. A call home, then sleep. Too tired to fully process the San Juans. I’ll leave that for later. Just happy to be full and warm now. That’s good enough. In this moment, it feels like that’s all I’ve ever needed.