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Zero Day 1 in Chama
I am staying at the Y Motel in Chama this time. Only a double room was available but it worked out nicely as Feral reached Cumbres Pass today and was looking for a room, so we are splitting a room again. Though splitting the cost of the room is nice, we also get along well due to our similar ages and both being retired military (he was Navy); we swap military stories. (Side note: his shin splints problem seems to be improving.)
As I noted yesterday, I am staying here until at least Monday waiting for two packages. If you remember, back in Pie Town my food packages did not arrive at the Toaster House hostel. My wife tracked them down and had them forwarded here to Chama. It’s not the food that is important but some medication, so I have to wait. But this is working out strategically as well. The snow in the San Juan range of southern Colorado is melting rapidly but still creating problems for the first hikers trying the next section. I had set a soft date of not leaving Chama before June 7 before I had even started based on historical averages for snowpack, so all is well. (Do you hear the rationalization?)
I won’t list the normal town chores this time. I had promised describing some new items I was adding to my pack and why. I had these items shipped to the Y Motel so was able to get them.
New shoes. My (first) shoes lasted over 700 miles (combination of training and hiking New Mexico) which was great. In general, trail running shoes are expected to last 500 miles so they did well. Truthfully, they probably had a little more life in them, but I had to make a decision on ordering far enough ahead to get them here and I didn’t want broken-down shoes to start Colorado. (They are Topo Ultraventure 2).
‘Puffy’ jacket: I had my wife send my insulated jacket, commonly called a puffy jacket. Mine is custom made by a cottage company in New York. It has synthetic insulation called Apex and no hood. I had elected not to carry it in New Mexico since I also have a lightweight fleece and wind jacket. I was experimenting to see how the fleece and wind jacket worked; they worked very well. But there is a little fear mongering about Colorado and weather to expect at the higher elevations. (It is not uncommon to have more snow fall in June.) To be safe, I now have the puffy. More than enough insulation. I am not yet convinced I need it all. (Timmermade SUL Apex, not being offered currently) (Side note: I should explain here that a thru hiker does not spend a lot of time ‘at camp’. You hike as long as you can, set up camp near sunset, eat, check the map for the next day, and fall asleep as you make journal entries. Then you wake up, make breakfast and pack up. And a puffy is generally too warm to hike in with normal exertion levels. So a puffy is only ‘needed’ for a short period at night and in the morning unless very cold. I have found the fleece and wind jacket to suffice so far. We will see. I may send the puffy home at some point to save both weight and room.)
Microspikes: these are a safety device. Think of them as cheap crampons. They slide over your shoes (or boots) and have small metallic spikes on the bottom to provide traction in icy or hard snowpack conditions. This is mainly a concern when traversing a steep snowy slope or descending a snowy pass. I will put them on only as needed and definitely ship them home sometime later in Colorado when no longer needed; I only want to carry the weight when necessary. (Katoola Microspikes)
Ice axe: another safety device. Its primary function is to provide a means to stop if you slip and start sliding down a steep snowy slope. The concept is to hold it so as to dig the pick side into the snow if you slide. It also serves as additional support (like a trekking pole) when traversing a steep slope. It too will be shipped home when no longer needed. (Hopefully it will never be used!) (CAMP Corsa 70 cm)