Friday, August 27
If you’ve been following my blogs you know that I did a major route change in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico to avoid some large tracts of private property. This course correction in the West side of the Spanish Peaks did result i a lot of “straight” road walking versus the roads on the East side of the Spanish Peaks were more curvy, but a major dirt road I wanted to use I learned was private. Trespassing for days on end was a no-go for me, especially during the beginning of hunting season when large tracts of private land are leased out to hunters. I needed to walk on roads that I could legally be on, and they were located to the West.
I would like to steal a quote from a PCT hiker I met in 2014. “Everything that I imagined would happen, happened but everything I didn’t imagine also happened.” One of the things I did not imagine was how amazing my experience with the people I encountered would be passing through large tracts of private property. In the section I am currently on I finished traveling through the property owned by Rio Costilla Cooperative Livestock Association (RCCLA).
The RCCLA track of private property is cooperatively owned by about 150 families, and is approximately 180,000 acres in size, so it is a big chunk of land. I am sure a lot of these details I will write or probably slightly incorrect, but it was a result of the land grant process that the Spanish government had before it was part of United States. When talking to one of the cooperative ranching employees the US government tried to take it over wayback about 150 years ago, but somebody the cooperative rode their horse all the way to Washington DC in protest, to say “no this is our land.” This is a very simplistic story of why the high Spanish Peaks that I personally would love for the Four Corners Loop to traverse is not Forest Service land. When planning the Four Corners Loop I always wondered why this high range of the mountains was not in the domain of the Forest Service. Now I think I know a little bit more of the complicated history.
Even though this is private property I was walking on a gravel road where the public had of right away through. Along this road the scenery was absolutely amazing. There was a tranquil serpentine creek with meadows and green grassy banks on each side. The valley walls had cliffs of rock, high in pink feldspar content, and in between the cliffs there was a mixture of trees ranging from Juniper, Pinyon pine On the south facing slopes, and Colorado blue spruce and Rocky Mountain Douglas fir with deciduous trees and Aspens on North facing slopes.
The people I encounter along the way due to the camping areas the cooperative provided were phenomenal. When I was stopped by the road sitting down taking a break, people would stop and ask if I was OK. I was also given one of the most tasty pieces of smokes trout caught the prior night from a fisherman and his wife. It really cracks me up how the fisherman’s wife was admiring my legs. She said to her husband “that man has amazing legs” then told him “I’m sorry” and husband gave him a nice kiss. We all laughed. This really cracked me up because many similar events have happened all summer long. So the lesson here is if you were a single young man and want to meet a bunch of cougars just go for a long walk. It makes me smile to know that my legs can make people smile.
Anyhow I hope you laughed at this last paragraph. I’ve now reached the Carson National Forest and it is absolutely amazing. The beautiful stream continues the trees are getting thinner welcoming me into a high elevation mountain meadow. My camp tonight is amazing. To the East is nothing but clear skies, the morning sunrise I know will be just splendid. Just after the sunset I heard many elk bugle throughout the woods. I just heard a coyote do it’s nightly howell at the moon. In between the animal sounds, it is absolutely silent (except for the occasional jet airplane).
I am looking forward to cresting The range to the west me and dropping down into red river New Mexico. Joseph one of the awesome RCCLA employees who also gave me a tasty root beer while I was having dinner two nights ago I think was wondering how I was going to get to Red River. In my mind I would just follow the jeep road that I had laid out on the map. I am on this “jeep road” right now and it’s practically impossible to see. It has long been gone and is not used anymore. So I’m looking forward to following it tomorrow because they’re all really challenged my trails sleuthing skills. I have been told I need to go to New Mexico is highest brewery. This is a good idea because earlier today I found hops growing along the side of the road among the wild rose bushes. I picked some, strapped them to my backpack and walked down the road with the awesome smell of hops permeating the air.
Another cool thing happened today Maria my wife’s brother Brian and his wife Tabatha we’re on vacation in New Mexico, and due to the amazing technology of satellites they were able to drive down a quiet country road then up the dirt road I was walking on to meet me for a nice little chat by the river. Tabatha said this is the most beautiful part of New Mexico they have seen so far. It was a pleasure talking with them and having some snacks and a cold tasty beverage. Brian and Tabatha thank you for taking time out of your vacation to detour off the beaten path to find The Animal in the woods.
Now that I am in New Mexico, I did some math to figure out I hiked 619.4 miles in Colorado. Currently I am 2280 miles into this journey. I think I have about 200 miles left to reach Santa Fe New Mexico.
Thank you for reading, I appreciate you, I love you, and have a nice day.
P.S. I am now in the town of Red River New Mexico. I made it into town right before a massive hail storm and downpour. I have a room for the night, which was hard to get because there’s a bicycle race in town this weekend. I will rest up and eat some food and get back on trail tomorrow hiking towards Wheeler Peak the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 ft.