We packed our camp and started hiking up the road. We spotted another hiker. It was Stop and Go. Earlier in the week he tried to hike the mountains but turned around due to the unsafe conditions. Several days earlier he planned a road walk to avoid the mountains and continue his match north. We hiked with him for several miles before we parted ways at Elwood Pass. We were now back on the trail.
For the next several hours the trail was safe but sometimes slow work. Snowshoes on, snowshoes off. By midday we found ourselves surrounded by dark clouds. Rain, snow and thunder started to catch up with us. The snow started, then the thunder and lightning. We looked for a route off the high ridges. A quarter mile off the trail was a forestry road that led to the highway. With little though or discussion we started down off the ridge into the road. We glissaded part of the way and made great time to the highway. It was only a 15 minute wait for a hitchhiking ride to the town of Pagosa Springs.
So ended some of the most difficult hiking I have ever done. The future, what comes next, I just don’t know. Do I take a week or two off trail? Do I just take a couple of days off and get back on trail? Whatever I decide I need a couple of days rest and learn from this experience. If I do go back up to the mountains sooner rather than later I need to better understand the snow conditions. But now, it’s time for Subway.