Trip Report By: Snuggles
On December 20th myself, Darwin and two of our good friends Zach and Lee Ann, headed out NorthWest from Albuquerque for a winter adventure. After a 3 hour drive to Cumbres Pass in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado (just North of Chama, NM) we had reached our destination, well sorta. We had within only a few hours left the familiar sites of the desert and now found ourselves in a white winter wonderland. Almost immediately crossing into Colorado the snow had started reminding us it was indeed December.
We unloaded our gear and with already cold fingers strapped on our Tubbs Snowshoes (provided by Sport Systems). Now began the real deal, our slow trudge to Trujillo Meadows Yurt via the Southwest Nordic Center Yurt System. Darwin carried his Osprey Atmos 65 and I carried my trusty Osprey Aura AG 50 both of which only had a minimal load – sleeping bags, food, extra clothes (the bulky stuff), first aid and a few other odds and ends. We felt we could leave some of our normal gear behind as the yurt would be fully stocked and Zach and Lee were packing out Elk Steaks and potatoes.
After leaving the Jeep Darwin and I were immediately excited to see a sign for the Continental Divide Trail. Although we could not see what one would call a trail, below the snow was a small piece of this grand National Scenic Trail. I took the lead of the caravan having decided that I was made for Snowshoeing. My feet in normal conditions resemble that of duck as my toes point out and my heels close in; this resulting stride is perfect for snowshoes. I felt I was on cruise control while the others took more time to get used to their now larger feet. I defiantly recommend to practice snowshoeing before heading out!
As we climbed in elevation the snow continued to fall and we soon found ourselves in white out conditions. Thanks to Lee and her easily accessible map we found our way none the less, always keeping an eye out for trail markers nailed high in the trees. It took us several hours to traverse only 4 miles. It seems you go a lot slower when visibility is low and the snow is stacked 6 feet high. Although we were traveling forest roads and taking turns breaking trail these conditions proved to be exhausting and we were all relieved to finally see the yurt; we were sitting at 10,400 feet.
After un-buckling our snowshoes and changing in to dryer clothes Zach and Darwin set to getting dinner ready on the wood burning stove. We chatted the evening away while devouring a delicious meal, sipping on homemade fermented Eggnog and playing card games while the small snow storm covered our tracks outside. We fell asleep snug as bugs in a rug.
After breakfast – eggs and bacon that Darwin had carried in, we headed back out taking turns breaking trail yet again thanks to the snow storm. The skies were blue and the quite of the wilderness was deafening. We seemed to find our way to the jeep in less time then expected and headed back into Chama,NM for burgers.
Heading into a Wintery Abyss.
A Well Broke Trail.
Arriving at our Frosty Home away from home for the night.
Back down from the Frozen Mountain…