I force fed myself breakfast. It didn’t make things any better. I was nauseous. Add to that almost no sleep and the fact that I didn’t eat dinner last night. I knew all to well what was going on. I had altitude sickness.
We were away early but the snow was melting fast. It wasn’t long before we were knee and thigh deep in horrible soft slushy snow. This depleted my already depleted energy levels. We were averaging less than 1 mile per hour. At one point we managed 0.2 miles per hour. Thanks in part to climbing a mountain that we didn’t need to climb.
I struggled to make progress. But I kept moving, slowly but surely. I was suffering from altitude sickness. The nausea, the low energy. I’ve had it before and wasn’t too concerned about my health. I knew that staying in Pagosa Springs around 7000ft then camping at over 11000ft was no going to be a good idea. I was right.
I’m sure I would have made much more distance if it weren’t for the poor snow. Constant Postholing slowed us incredibly. At one point I crossed a snow bridge. Underneath was a small stream. The snow bridge collapsed and I fell up to my armpits in snow. The water was only ankle deep and as the whole area collapsed I managed to get out ok. But I felt a little twinge in my left knee. This twinge was only really noticeable when I had to lift myself out of a postholing incident.
By 3pm we were at the junction with an alternate route called the Creede Cut off. It is a short cut that follows a low route away from the snow covered mountains. It was tempting to take the easy option. Most hikers this year seem to take this option.
We sat and debated what to do for over an hour. You see we have a problem. Spontaneous will be getting off trail in 7 days. He will fly to LA to meet his girlfriend. She arrives from Korea. They will travel for 2 weeks. Travelling at the pace of today would see him miss his flight and miss his girlfriend. Not good. So the option of taking the cut off was considered heavily. We almost took it.
I reasoned with Spontaneous. If he could stay with me for some of the dangerous areas in the next 20-30 miles that would be great. If we were still making very slow time, or I was still suffering from the altitude then he could race ahead to the nearest town and get to his flight in Denver.
So either way I will be hiking the CDT alone very soon. A rather sad prospect. Spontaneous will get back on the trail but when and where is his decision.
So we set off together again to complete the San Juan mountains. We made camp a few short miles after the cutoff route. I managed to eat a large dinner meal. Here’s hoping the altitude sickness is slowly moving on. And that my knee gives me no problems.