Section Hike Done By: Darwin & Snuggles
April 10th 2016 – Continental Divide Trail – Cuba, NM Section
Over the weekend we decided to head over to Cuba, New Mexico to meet up with our good friends Geared Up & Cowgirl, who were currently Thru-Hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). We had never been on the CDT and since it covers 770 miles of New Mexico it is practically our backyard. We had been dying to hike some sections of another National Scenic Trail and we were more than happy to accept an invitation to hike it.
We drove about one hour West from our home base in Albuquerque to meet them at their base camp in Cuba, NM at a small RV Park. Unlike hiking the AT and PCT, Cowgirl had arranged for friends and family to follow her along the way to act as support. Some sections she and Geared Up carried full packs and camped on the trail. Most days however, they would hike big miles to a trailhead and be picked up and taken back to their RV for a shower, hot meal, and a soft bed. Hiking in luxury!
Since we needed to get into hiking shape for our return to the AT in June, we decided to dust off our hiker legs. We were going to do a small 15 mile section with them, hiking South back towards The Los Pinos Trailhead. Once we arrived at the RV Park, we hung out while eating a few donuts and then loaded up in the truck to venture to the trailhead. Uncle Sparky (Cowgirl’s Uncle) was our chauffeur and dropped us off in a remote part of the San Pedro Parks Wilderness.
For the first handful of miles we chatted about random happenings in the world, gear, and our future return to the AT as we easily hiked along a very smooth dirt trail. We hiked along barbed wire fencing marking the wilderness boundary line and laughed as Jerry (Cowgirl’s dog) attempted to cross the barbed wire to the other side. As we climbed higher in elevation through the beautiful Aspen Groves, leftover snow from winter storms started to speckle the forest around us. The temperature started to drop from the wonderful 70° in Cuba to what now felt like the low 40s and before we knew it we were post-holing in knee-deep snow. At first there was much laughter as we tried to keep our balance when sinking into the frozen snow and had a good laugh watching Jerry try to hop from hole to hole that had been left behind by Cowgirl’s tracks.
We stopped off for lunch at a somewhat flat spot and tried to regain the feeling in our toes. We took off our boots and wrung out the frigid water trapped in our socks. Stopping only for a short time, we began to get cold and realized that we had to keep moving to warm back up. We continued to climb in elevation and slowly navigated though the frozen mess loosing the trail completely at times. Coming to a widened section of trail we stopped to discuss how suddenly tried, wet, and COLD we felt. None of us were dressed for these conditions and we were fighting a loosing battle. With a trail that was continually disappearing into a white abyss and every mile getting worse with snow pack, we decided to turn around. We determined we had maybe hiked only 7.5 miles (it felt like so much more at the time).
After backtracking the 7.5 miles back down to the trailhead we had started at, we were relieved to see Uncle Sparky waiting with the truck. Cowgirl thankfully had a moment of signal on our way back down to inform him of our change of plans. We road back to Cowgirl’s RV in Cuba while warming up from the heater that was blasting inside the truck. When we got back we warmed up, devoured another donut or two and said or goodbyes to our Thru-Hiker pals.
Even though it didn’t go as planned we had the most amazing, tough, cold, wet, and crazy day hike we had ever done thanks to Geared Up and Cowgirl.
Cowgirl and Geared Up
Spring had not quite come to the high New Mexico forrest yet.
Gotta love Trail Badges. So Symbolic…
Our 1st signs that there was still some snow left at higher altitudes.
Wacky carving in an Aspen tree. Nature’s Pin-up
Tall Trees, Blue Skies, and More Snow…
When the trees opened up you could faintly see the Colorado Rockies capped with snow off in the distance.
When the trail started to turn on us… Snuggles post-holing up to her knees in what winter had left behind atop the mountain.