The last 65 miles of the trail took us into spectacular high mountain scenery at between 12000 and 12600 feet. Finally we are in what us Europeans would understand to be the Rocky Mountains (though technically the next stretch is called the San Juans)!
The downside is that this high up, spring is only just thinking about springing and there is still a lot of old snow (which we gingerly tip-toed along for many miles) and fallen trees (which we sprackled and clambered over as best we could). These impediments meant that we only progressed about 15 miles per day (as supposed to our “normal” 20 mile days) and that it was rather hard going. After 4 days of struggling among spectacular scenery (well, except maybe the last day which was really all about fallen trees and gratuitous slippy snow slopes amongst the spruce forests), we made it to Wolf Creek Pass and got a lift (from an RV!!) into Pagosa Springs in the evening.
We are now in Colorado which means that for dinner that night we had vegetarian choices other than bean burrito or vegetable tostada (hurrah!) AND we could have a wine and a beer respectively with our Greek salad and humus platter (licensed restaurants are rather few and far between in rural New Mexico!). The hotel had a jacuzzi and the town has a wonderful natural hot spring spa pool with over 20 small basins to sit in, right next to the roaring San Juan river!
Yesterday, our first rest day, it rained all night and rained and rained until 14:00. All of this would have fallen as snow on the hills where the trail is!
The next section of the trail is higher, longer and reputedly tougher. Because of the snows, we have therefore come up with a plan to “flip-flop” about 300 trail miles ahead to a place called Silverthorne and walk South from there, back to Pagosa Springs. This will hopefully allow spring to progress on the hills and will mean less old snow when we finally get to the San Juan mountains! That plan needs fleshed out, but we know that dear old Greyhound can take us from Durango (next town over) to our destination. Will report back when we get somewhere! For now the hot springs beckon again!