Wednesday, September 17, 2008

CT: The Last Segment & Durango

My parents, Craig Hanson, and I all left Pagosa Springs early that morning and made the hour drive into Durango. After some catching up and a delicious lunch, we dropped 2 of our three cars off at the Colorado Trail Durango Terminus: both of ours. At this point, our crew drove up the primitive 4X4 road to Kennebec Pass at roughly 10,500 feet or more. Only the Hanson's Ford Explorer had the clearance to make this road, so after getting dropped off on the pass, my mother would drive back down, drop the Hanson's car off at the Durango Terminus, and then take our other car back to Pagosa Springs. Once in Pagosa Springs, my mother would yak on the phone with my Aunt Dee and my sister Noelle.

At that point, the three of us would wait to rendezvous with David sometime that afternoon or evening. If all went according to plan, Dave should pass through soon enough. And sure enough, after only 10 minutes, the "Mama's Boys" show up! They claimed they saw Dave and Elizabeth sometime yesterday and had been leapfrogging with them a bit. They suspected Dave might not reach that point till late in the night. I had my doubts, as the Mama's Boys were well known for late starts, sometimes well into the afternoon and pushing through long after dark. They probably aren't accounting for the morning they slept in, and at this point in the day, the Mama's Boys probably only had a slim lead on Dave and Elizabeth.

So after a bit, I made the short hike from Kennebec Pass towards Taylor Lake, thinking I could get a better vantage point and see Dave approaching. Dave turned out to be only half a mile behind us! Less than an hour of waiting and we'd already found Dave! And sure enough, Elizabeth was right there with him, along with her trusty sidekick, Nanook.

After an endless series of overenthusiastic greetings, and salutations, we all agreed to camp at the beautiful Taylor Lake that evening. My father even wrote an account of the event on his blog here. Dave and I went swimming in the lake. Our parent's chatted with Elizabeth. Dave and I gathered firewood. Nanook dragged her rear end through the dirt.

That evening, after spying a mysterious ceremony of people on a high ridge, an extraordinary supernatural event occurred. The mysterious, long lost White Buffalo came stampeding through our camp. Some time passed, however, before we realized this mythical creature was actually a giant husky. After attacking and invading Elizabeth and Nanook's tent, we promptly started yelling at the nearby camping party to call off the dog, which evidently answered to the name of Christina, Jessica, or something else that amused Elizabeth to no end.

We all had fun the following morning, after passing over the beautiful Kennebec Pass and getting a view of the La Plata Mountains and greater San Juan Range. We quickly descended into a valley filled with thick foliage, where David Hanson earned his new trail name: Girl Off! Elizabeth coined the new appellative after several frustrating incidents involving David's excessive flatulence! Etymology of the idiom stems from the name brand mosquito repellent, OFF!; essentially implying that David's scent repels women. But I can say that David's little "Trail Treasures" repelled members of his own gender just as effectively. All the humor helped distract from a hot afternoon of climbing out of the valley onto a series of ridges. All in all, 13 miles that day.

We found a lousy campsite near some Llama salt licks, and prepared for everybody's final day on the trail the following morning. We had some interesting conversations about the trail, and what we liked and disliked about ourselves. Elizabeth wished she were shorter. I wished I was taller. David wished he was black. Although considering the pigment of my skin in Taylor Lake, perhaps I should take a page from David's play book.

The laughter, merriment, and good spirits ended the next morning. Any remaining morale completely dissolved in the torrential rain and precipitation that woke us in the morning, forced us to cancel a proper breakfast, and motivated everyone to hike faster than we ever had before. The storm filled all the ruts in the trail dug out by mountain bikers as well, forcing everyone to wade through deep puddles. Water clinging to the foliage and brush began clinging to us as we skimmed against every plant growing up against the trail. The most miserable day of precipitation I can remember just has to come on our last day.

Finally, after a marathon 11 mile march through the endless rain, the sun came out! Unfortunately, we were less than 1/2 mile to our vehicles and the end of the Colorado Trail. It isn't long before we're in our vehicles, taking the requisite "end of the Trail" pictures, and loading up for lunch at Farquarts, a Durango landmark for delicious pizza. This was it! Then end was upon us! We convinced Elizabeth to join us for lunch. Nanook, unfortunately, wasn't invited to the party and resigned himself to napping in the back of my mother's vehicle.
When lunch finished, we all said our goodbyes. Elizabeth and Nanook were going to spend time with her friends. David and his father joined us that evening in Pagosa Springs for one last night, opting to save the 9 hour drive for the following morning. And after they departed, my parents and myself began our own drive back to Denver.

Picture Note: As I didn't bring my camera for this last segment, most of these pictures are my father's. The picture of David, Elizabeth, and Myself at the last segment in Durango is David's.

CT: Thru-Hikin' Friends

Kennebec To Durango From Andy's Fragments

The Colorado Trail Story

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