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771.4 to 780.0 (Cumbres Pass) (8.6 miles)
Bottom line upfront: I finished the New Mexico portion of the CDT today! Wow. It is hard to imagine. Thank you God for working out all the details.
As hoped for, no condensation this morning and I was actually warmer than the night before, even though I was at a higher altitude. I had a great view for breakfast.
My biggest concern for the day was an approximately five mile section that started not far from my campsite that reportedly still had lots of snow, compounded by a lot of blow downs. These reports were a little over a week old. I didn’t know how to plan my pacing through this area for my planned meeting with my friend at Cumbres Pass. With this in mind, I got up a little earlier than planned and got moving.
Well, I did encounter the reported blowdowns, again mainly on the northern slopes. But there wasn’t as much snow on trail as I expected. Of course this meant there was a lot of snow melt fed runoff. That meant mud. It was pretty sloppy in places. It’s hard describing the fun of negotiating blow downs and mud at the same time. However, it still wasn’t nearly as bad as expected, and I kept expecting more.
Some of the trail was dirt roads, which had turned into streams with the melt, but with very little snow on the road. There was lots of snow in the trees.
You can see where this is headed. Before I knew it, I was standing at the border of Colorado. And it is not a dramatic place. The ‘sign’ officially designates the boundary between two national forests. But it is also the state line. Some hikers several years ago also hung New Mexico and Colorado license plates on the sign. I almost passed it, it is so not noticeable. When I realized what it was I had a sudden, unexpected wave of emotion and let out a primal “Whoooohooo!” It echoed, so I did it again. Wow! One state done.
I had some service so texted my family with the pictures and good news. Then I texted my friend who was picking me up about my early status. It is another 2.8 miles from the border to Cumbres Pass. It was a beautiful short hike. I included a picture of a turn at a switchback because of how fancy it is. Apparently they spend a little more on trail maintenance in Colorado.
It was a lucky day for me in another way as well. As I approached the trailhead at Cumbres Pass I heard an old fashioned train whistle and a ‘chug-chug-chug’. It was the Cumbres-Toltec Scenic train that operates from Chama. Today was their first passenger run of the season. Very cool. It pulled into a partially restored historic train station near the trailhead right as I got there.
My friend and his wife pulled in a short time later. Not only did they drive up to get me but were thoughtful in bringing drinks and snacks a hiker might want. Those mini oranges were delicious! They then brought me to lunch in Chama where we talked and visited enjoyably (and shared desert). Thank you so very, very much. Then off to a hotel for the night.
Since it is Saturday, I had missed Post Office hours and I couldn’t check on a package I need, so will be here through at least Monday. My other packages, including my new shoes had been shipped to the hotel. Nice to have new shoes!
One final note for the day. I ate at a restaurant that has outdoor seating, where i ate. While there, two men on horses rode up, dismounted, tied up their horses and went inside. Yep, I am in the west.