Despite all of the activity during the night, I felt well-rested and ready to get up at 6:45! (Amazing!). I showered, got dressed, and went to the same place for breakfast as I did yesterday. I ordered the same omelette, but got the Belgian waffles instead of the pancakes this time. Once back in my room, I gave Amanda a call. We had a good conversation and agreed to help inspire each other to write. We are both interested in the same things. My Swiss friend did not reply to the message I had written him yesterday. Both he and my other “friend” had dropped out of contact, and I felt very distant and disconnected from them.
I returned to the breakfast place to have my water bottles filled up (they didn’t fit under the sink faucet), and talked to the motel owner about getting a ride back to the trail. He had told me yesterday that he offered that service to hikers, and we could pay him what we thought it was worth (that way, the responsibility was on us). He said he needed 15 minutes, so I did some back bends and half a sun salutation in the meantime, and was surprised that I seemed not to have lost a lot of my flexibility!
The ride to the trail was nice. The owner asked me, “So, what’s your story, Wendy? Who are you and why are you out here?” Wow! This was a perceptive guy and these were my favorite questions! I told him my story and he was very encouraging to me and told me that I was strong. When we arrived at the trailhead, he told me to enjoy the rest of my hike. “Heck, enjoy the rest of your life!. Don’t let those people get you down!”. I was glad that I had my sunglasses on because tears immediately formed in my eyes.
As I was putting on sunscreen along the side of the highway, I got whistled at. (I didn’t mind…) And then, I headed across the road and was off once again!
Despite my heavy pack, I did just fine. I passed a bunch of day hikers in the early section and eventually was on my own again. The beautiful southwest scenery reminded me of one of my yoga teachers, Jacqui, and I thought about her a lot in this section. I found out while hiking out here that she had lived in Durango for part of her life! I really liked the red stripes in the mountains. It was a bit dry for my taste, but the landscape was open and beautiful.
A couple of mountain bikers passed me. One of them liked my hiking skirt.
Around 2, I found a tree to sit under to eat my lunch at the top of a hill. I said out loud, thinking about my food distribution over the course of the next several days, “I don’t think I need my Snickers.” At that moment, a good-looking backpacker rounded the corner. (“Well, hello there!”) I asked him where he was going. “Durango”
“So am I!”.
He said he had to catch up with the rest of his group ahead. Of course, he did… By “group”, he probably meant girlfriend!
It didn’t take me long to catch them- young husband and wife, their dog, and the father of one of them. They were only hiking 13 miles a day and planned on getting to Durango on Saturday. We all planned to camp at mile 12.3 into this segment. They told me to go ahead and get set-up (like it was just a hop, skip, and jump for me!). They thought we were now at mile 8.5.
It took me a bit of time, but I reached the turn-off at mile 10.2. The trail opened up into an incredible landscape again! Wow! I kept stopping to take pictures of the unbelievable peaks.
I crossed the saddle and started to descend the switchbacks. I could see the lake I hoped to camp at in the distance! It looked like what I imagine Tahoe to look like. The thought of finally camping by a lake made me happy. Although I felt a bit sad at the start of this segment, knowing that it was my last, and already missing the animals and scenery, I concentrated on enjoying these 4-5 days, on being fully in the moment, and looking forward to things in the future. I felt strong, relaxed, and happy (despite the pain of cramps).
I descended for a very long time and the lake disappeared from my sight. After I reached the next intersection, I realized I had passed it! I was now at mile 12.9. I was not going to turn back. My guidebook said there was camping at mile 14.8, so I pressed on. I felt fine, and it would only be to my advantage to make a little more progress today. I found a nice spot under the familiar pines and set-up my tent. I couldn’t stomach the idea of eating macaroni and cheese again (without butter, mind you), so I just munched on some snacks and enjoyed my Snickers bar. My only pressing concern was when I would reach Indian Ridge. My guidebook strongly warned about the danger of crossing the ridge in the afternoons, and unfortunately, that is exactly when I would reach it. I would either have to hike a really long day tomorrow, or risk being on the ridge in the storms…