Starting Colorado

One may not purchase the °hiker special° tickets on the Cumbres Toltec narrow gauge coal-fired train up to Cumbres Pass the day before, so I showed up early when the ticket office opened and reserved my seat.

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An amiable couple from Texas sat in front of me, and we had good conversation as I did some trail ambassador public relations work.

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The train departed at 10 and reached the pass at 11:30.

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The trail is well constructed here and easy to follow, with no disappearing sections. The climb began easy and gradual. Near the first peak was a large area of downed conifers {pine beetle?} with evidence of recent sawing to clear the path.

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The first peak brought strong cold winds. A long exposed flat section along a ridge caused me to put on windbreaker, fuzzy hat, and finally gloves. Most through hikers are at least three weeks ahead of me, and hiked this part with much more snow and cold. I am hiking on the easiest skill setting with it being later in the season, but this might turn out to be the most challenging stretch of trail I will ever experience. Short sections of earlier hikes might come close to the elemental conditions, White Mountains or Pecos Wilderness, but this section goes on for weeks!

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The views are awesome, stunning, beyond words. Note to myself: do not become too used to the scenery, and remember to be awed at least once a day.

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The long ridge broadened into Flat Mountain, the start of south San Juan Wilderness.

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A gentle descent to Three Lakes, and ice pellets begin falling, switching to rain. Only 5:30, but must erect the tent in fierce wind and precipitation. Hiking is over for the day.

Day 1,  6/18/2014
Start 11:30 Cumbres Pass, mile 780, elevation 9984
End 5:30, Three Lakes, mile 793, elevation 11786

Author: Jim, Sagebrush

Jim (trail-name Sagebrush) codes audio software for Windows, Linux, Android, and embedded systems. When not working at sagebrush.com, he enjoys backpacking, which this blog is about.