[Cdt-l] Trail Report from Chama NM and Cumbres northwards question

Brian Dickson briansolar1 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jun 5 11:05:43 CDT 2009

Brian and Martina along with Ted and Richard made it to Cumbres Pass Colorado yesterday and are taking a rest day in the pleasant village of Chama NM.

We have had thunderstorms and slightly cold weather for a couple of weeks now and there was no shortage of water from Ghost Ranch to Cumbres.  The walking has been nice and mellow with good views north to the snowy Colorado hills.

Some trail notes.....

North of Ghost ranch on Jonathan Ley's NM6 map we failed to find the split at point 7 but just continued on the jeep track north (the solid purple line) along the meadow in the valley.  The purple line route then zig zags out of the valley on the left on a faded jeep route which is pretty easy to follow- you just need to watch out for when it splits from the valley as there is a stock trail that continues on the valley floor.

We took the new trail on NM4 that skirts the Vallecitos area to the south. Its nice and varied if somewhat minimally signed (at least at the start). If you get to a meadow just keep walking to the far side and look for ribbon or old jeep trail there.  It has good water at the Rio Vallecitos - almost too good as it was a thigh deep crossing on quite a fast flow! There has been a log put in for crossing the river but it looked like it had been turned over by a flood and neither martina or I were up to the  'trapeze like' balance act  required to cross on the log so waded instead.

The Placer Creek & Long Canyon area on NM3 was particularly nice scenery. We met some gold panners between the 2.

We reached the split point south of the Colorado border between old and new trails to Cumbres Pass and had lunch there (to shelter from the hail) on NM1. There is a single bendy CDT post to the left NB just as marked on Jonathans map. The trail was very faint (it took a few attempts to find) so we decided to do the shorter older route to the border especially as it was also thundery and wet.

Next steps to Pagosa Springs...
It seems that many hikers are road walking to pagosa from Chama and then to Creede. I think Yeti has hiked to pagosa then road walked and we met Mike yesterday in town, leaving with a large rucksack to hike the trail to Pagosa. We are going for the trail too as the scenery north looks great with lakes, mountains and glaciation. We are going to take a bit extra food to counter a slower pace over the snow. 

I am still trying to work out whether it will be better north of Cumbres pass to hike the closed trail onto the ridge or take the lower  reroute to the east. I spoke to Mr D yesterday who tried the later and returned to town as there was more snow to the east lower in the valley trees than up on the summits. He also was suffering from Giardia like symptoms so that couldn't have helped. I will try to get the Cumbres quadrangle map and speak to the Pagosa forestry people today to decide. 

Any views on this or anyone who has done this section would be appreciated?

We still hold out hopes of hiking the whole San Juans so a slow pace might help us with that to let the snow melt some more although I note on Postholers site that Wolf Creek Pass has a 70-80% normal snow level which is good news.

Thanks for reading and happy hiking!
Hope to update the blog with pictures later today

Brian and Martina from Scotland

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