CDT Day 124: Cañada Gurule to San Pedro Peaks – Pack It Out Camp to Plan Camp
Miles hiked: 27.2
Total miles: 2182.9
Straightforward hiking in the desert today, though it feels like we already left it behind this evening. The trail brought us gradually up so that we are back in the trees and above 10,500ft again. There were beautiful trees and cliffs to ponder today and the warm weather felt amazing despite the sweat. Two lunch breaks and bright sun. What more could I ask for?
The morning was bitterly cold. With the warmth of last night, I was unprepared for this and slept a little cold despite having extra layers in my pack. It was hard to get up, but I was done with the night and eager to get moving, eager to get warm.
My toes were numb by the time I actually got walking at 7am. I warmed up fast and kept my head on a swivel, looking at all the big cliffs that we unknowingly approached in the night. Sandy trail through sage, pinion, and juniper.
Every hiker that we’ve seen for the past few days showed up at a small sandy creek, our first good water since Ghost Ranch. I froze off my fingers, then got moving again to warm up. Spice and I found separation from the others and picked our way along the washed out trail through gamble oak and pinion pine. A switchbacking climb zig-zagged us out of the canyon and into the sunny forest above. I stripped layers and applied sunscreen. A gentle breeze bothered the tips of the tall ponderosa. It felt good to be warm again.
The trail joined a dirt road for a few miles to a giant tire used for a cow trough. There, Spice, Crunch, Rooster, and I took a mid-morning snack break, sitting in dusty cow poop dirt and eating all the things.
We finished the up, then started on the down. Off the road and back on steep trail, we stumbled down loose desert rock to the wide valley below. Red cliffs popped up behind us unexpectedly, leaving me grateful to the trail for showing us the safe way to descend. We hit warm ponderosa forest near a highway and decided that standing up again after taking a seat was too much effort. Lunch #1. Only after downing my pizza sauce, tortillas, and lemonade, did I get a move on to find the next water and the next lunch.
It was a balmy 70°F on the flat push through widely spaced ponderosa. The crew cruised. Rooster and I talked about Lyme’s disease for a little bit, which was a ton of fun. I exchanged Taco Bell fantasies with Spice. Then we were at the next water, a small stream with a fresh wad of cow poop right at the crossing. Mmmmm, flavor. We all filtered water and ate. Lunch #2.
A big climb back up San Pedro Peaks to over 10,500ft was next on the agenda and pretty much brought us to the end of the day. Brief views of hazy hills peeked through the trees occasionally, but mostly it was just a gradual grind up. Hearing the wind whipping in the treetops, I felt a sudden gratitude for these trees. They were protecting us from the powerful chilling capabilities of convective heat loss. The gusts sounded aggressive, yet merely the faintest puff was felt on the trail. Thank you trees!
Spice and I layered up at the top, then hiked by headlamp past Crunch and Roost setting up camp. We got lost then found, before tucking neatly into dense pine for more of that good wind protection. We set up to cowboy this evening, hoping the predicted snow wouldn’t come early. It was all downhill to town now anyway. Even if it does snow, there will be burritos at some point tomorrow. There will be burritos. After all that climbing today, I have them on my mind.