CDT Day 36 Is that a Wolf?


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23rd May

25.5 miles

Hopewell Lake (625.8) to (651.3)

Are there Wolves on the CDT?

Yes there are. But Did I see them today or did I see a big coyote.

It was about 7am when we crossed the quiet nation highway 64. We slowly climbed on a jeep road. To the left was a grassy meadow. I spotted something moving. Two wolves. Slowly they moved down the meadow valley. Enough time to take a photo and video this time. The photos aren’t clear but the video is better. I’ll put the video of the trip together before Christmas, I hope. That’s three wolves so far on this trip.

I had a look on the internet only to find that wolves shouldn’t be in that part of New Mexico. Were they wolves? They were the size of German Shepherds. Coyotes aren’t that big are they? Crunchmaster, spontaneous and I are quite sure they are wolves. You decide. [Edit: it appears they were coyotes not wolves :( ]

The evidence of bears and Mountain Lions nearby. Their tracks were engraved in the mud. We haven’t seen any bears or mountain lions but we hope to at some stage on the hike.

We continued climbing until we started to hit patches of snow. Nothing too bad considering we were at 10000 feet. We crossed some stunning meadows. They were the sort of grassy meadows that should have had thousands of deer being chased by hundreds of predators like bears, wolves and mountain lions. Instead they contained water troughs for cattle to drink out of.

By late afternoon we arrived at a remote campground that was still covered in patches of snow. When we set off in the morning we thought that might make a good campsite. It was getting late. We thought we might try and make some more miles. So we agreed to try and make it to another place on the map. I stopped for an ablution break. I never saw Crunchmaster and Spontaneous for the rest of the day.

I climbed up to near 11000 feet. Soft snow leaked into my shoes. My socks were wet and because of the altitude I was unable to walk fast enough to generate enough body heat. I stopped to put on another  layer. In the process I got a little lost. I was following a set of footprints through the soft snow. The footprints ended at a road. I looked at my maps. If I followed the road I would join the trail again in less than a mile. The road was listed as one of the alternate CDT routes, so I took it.

The road continued for about a mile until it was covered in snow. Right at the point where it joined up with the CDT. I continued alone. At one point my foot slipped through the soft crust of the snow into an ice cold pool of water. That could not be described as the highlight of my day.

Through the snow I went. Adding layers as it got colder. The wind didn’t help. It was a very windy day. I covered maybe two miles of snow covered road before a snow free hill stood in front of me. I had to climb it. It was over 11000 feet and has 360 degree views. I looked for the others but couldn’t find them. I didn’t know if they were ahead or behind.

At 7.30pm I arrived at the spot we agreed to camp at. Nobody was there. I was cold. I now had every layer of clothing that I had with me on. I finally felt warm. I had a rare section of cell phone coverage so I sent out a text message with my whereabouts and plans.

I continued hiking for only about two minutes before I found a rare snow free sheltered spot. My home for the night. I set up the tent then climbed a hill to send another text message.

I settled in for what promised to be a very cold night. Hopeful that the others are fine. Tomorrow I’ll probably wake early and try and make it to Colorado. It’s only 14 miles away. But I don’t want to stand at the border alone.

morning view of Hopewell dam
poor photos, wolves or coyotes? they were the size of German Shepherds
lots of snow melt equals lots of water
bear tracks
I’ve never used a collapsed barbed wire fence as a bridge before, it worked
sick of plain water i added some flavour, can’t imagine what my insides look like
mushrooms growing, even though there is snow in the background
back in the snow
snow free mountain at 11000 feet
getting cold
and colder
campsite next to the long patches of snow

Next – Day 37 I just walked across New Mexico

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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14 thoughts on “CDT Day 36 Is that a Wolf?”

  1. Apparently, there is an hybrid species, scientist have named them coywolf (sometimes, woyote), and if you look at the pic of the grey wolf / coyote hybrid, it looks a lot like your pics.

  2. I vote for coyotes, too. I hope you find Crunchmaster and Spontaneous soon. As you say, I am sure it would be more fun to celebrate a border crossing with friends.

  3. If you say they were about the size of a German Shepherd, then possibly Mexican Grey Wolves. Not as big as their Northern cousins. The key is the pointy (coyote) or rounded ears (wolf) and size of the snout. Happy Trails!

    • I read they any Mexico grey wolves found this far north are captured and relocated. I guess thru must have been coyotes

  4. They look like large coyotes to me, or “kai-yotes”, as we say here in Texas. Every picture of those beautiful aspen trees makes me want to pack a bag and head to the mountains!

  5. Yikes! Watch out for those mountain lions. Hope you get to see one though… From a safe but photographable distance! I’d have to guess coyote for the dogs. We get quite a few coming into our yard and I’m always a little taken aback by how large they are – maybe 50 – 60cm tall. From what I can see of the photos, the coloration looks right.

    • Possibly. I’ve seen lots of coyotes before, but not German Shepherd sized. Maybe they are on steroids here.


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