What I did last summer

What I did last summer

December 19, 2021 Off By Hawkeye Johnson
By Hawkeye

This year I hiked 800 miles from the southern terminus of the CDT at the Crazy Cook monument in New Mexico to my home in Telluride, Colorado. I started May 19 with vehicle support provided with my wife, Debbie. The border patrol was notified and we were not hard to spot in our yellow van. The trail was hot and dry but it was a relief to see the van in the distance containing cold beverages and shade. I also used my umbrella to beat the heat and stay cool.

Follow Hawkeye’s journey on this long distance hike from the U.S./Mexico border to his home in Telluride, Colorado.

The last time I was in these parts was 14 years ago on my CDT thru hike in 2007. I found the trail to be better marked with more established tread this time. We resupplied in Lordsburg and Silver City and I enjoyed Debbie’s support until Gila Hot Springs where she had to go back to the real world.

The Middle Fork of the Gila River was pleasant although the water was much lower this time and it was smokey from nearby fires. I saw a black bear but couldn’t get a picture. I reached Snow Lake and found it too low to feed the middle fork anymore although the campground had water. From here it was a lot of road walking with the water sources dried up. I met a rancher who was trucking in water for the cows. He said he hadn’t seen it like this dry in 20 years. I crossed Rt. 12 and decided on hiking the alternate route to Pie Town.

By this time something was wrong with me and I realized I was suffering the effects of heat exhaustion and dehydration. An old “pro” like me was not drinking enough water or taking electrolyte supplements. I couldn’t eat, barely drink and had no energy. My phone was dead and I had to struggle along resting in some shade often, where I finally reached the Toaster house hostel in Pie Town where I could call Debbie to come and get me.

I recuperated for 10 days at home then returned to the trail farther north on the CDT at Lake Abiquiu where I was joined by some friends for our annual “Fish Camp”.

I tried to be smarter about hydrating and resting more often during the heat of the day. The trail here is at higher elevation with more frequent water sources and I felt normal again and finally reaching the Colorado border on June 26. Deb met me at the trailhead and we resupplied in Chama, New Mexico. I picked up my fly fishing rod here for the rest of the hike.

The monsoons hit during this stretch so I used my umbrella quite a bit to stay cool and dry. I enjoy hiking in the Southern San Juan Wilderness and it was good to be back in Colorado. I resupplied in Pagosa Springs over the Fourth of July weekend and was happy to hit the trail with 8 days of food until I was able to meet my buddy, Tony, for some fishing in the Weminuche Wilderness. Tony hiked in with enough food to get me to Silverton after our fishing excursion. We found the fishing particularly good at Flint Lake and enjoyed some fresh caught trout for dinner.

After we parted ways, I continued toward Silverton on the Flint Lake trail until hooking up with the CDT again at Hunchback Pass. I met a couple backpacking fishermen headed to Flint Lake and pumped them up, “It’s hard to get there but if you do, it will be worth it!” I camped in the willows at Beartown that night and the next day climbed up then started across a beautiful stretch of trail that coincides with the Colorado Trail before leaving the CDT for a side trail to the Highland Mary Lakes and Lost Lake.

The fishing was good and I took the Whitehead Trail down to Silverton where I met up with my friends John and Samantha and spent the night at their house. My trail from here is up the Niagara Gulch and then some bushwacking to the Columbine Lake trail. I hiked up to the lake where I camped there for my last night on the trail.

Leaving the lake toward Telluride, there is no trail so you bushwhack over the ridge, cross Ice Lakes Basin to reach the Wasatch trail then take the extension to the back of the Telluride Ski Area. I hiked down the See Forever ski trail to the Gondola which I rode down to Mountain Village and my favorite bar, Tracks!