CDT 2021: Day 43, Zero Day in Chama

Will you come with me? Won't you come with me?

Hikers hanging out at the Y Motel in Chama, New Mexico

A zero day offers a rare opportunity to sleep in, and that's what I tried to do this morning. I've gotten so used to getting up early, however, that sleeping late didn't work out as well as I hoped.

Still, I was able to relax until I got hungry, then I walked down the street to a coffee shop.

DateTuesday, May 25, 2021
WeatherClear sky with temperatures from low-30s to upper-60s
Today's Miles0.0
Trip Miles637.0

The coffee shop turned out to be a good place to talk to hikers. I talked to two I hadn't met before, Crispi and Longbird. I also talked for several minutes with Doggone.

He told me a crazy story about how he lost his phone and then retrieved it. When he discovered he lost it, he was near Dixie Creek, the same creek where I crossed yesterday on a snow bridge. Doggone had been tracking his route using the GPS on his watch, so he followed the track to backtrack his route.

After doing this for some distance, his watch beeped to notify him it made a Bluetooth connection. It had reconnected with his phone, so he knew it was nearby. He found it immediately.

An inflated bag of Fritos

I didn't have to do any shopping today because Kim sent me enough food for five days. That's about how long it will take me to reach the highway to Pagosa Springs, where I can resupply again.

One of the items in my resupply box was a bag of Fritos. My wife purchased it near where we live, which sits at about 800 feet above sea level. Chama, New Mexico, is roughly 7,000 feet higher than that. I was amused to find the difference in air pressure made the bag inflate like a balloon.

Chama, New Mexico

Chama right now was just waking from a sleepy gap between the winter snowmobiling season and the summer tourist season. Some stores, restaurants, and motels were closed. I noticed workers sprucing up a couple of the storefronts in preparation for when the tourists arrive to ride the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad after Memorial Day.

Patsy’s Restaurant

Top O' and I walked to Family Dollar late in the morning. He needed to resupply, and I went with him to pick up a couple of extra items.

Then we walked to Patsy’s, a restaurant in a mobile home. It wasn't much to look at, but the food was good.

Navajo taco

I ordered a Navajo taco, a local specialty. It was much larger than your average taco and made with fry bread. Because this is New Mexico, it had to have green chilis. It was the best food I have eaten in New Mexico.

By now, I have full onset hiker hunger. As large as the taco was, it wasn't enough. I finished with a sopapilla.

Y Motel, Chama, New Mexico

Chama is laid out similar to Cuba, with all of the businesses stretched along a highway that runs through the middle of town. With no public transportation, we had to walk everywhere. From our hotel to the Y Motel, where OldTimer and No Keys were staying, the distance was 1.6 miles. We headed there after lunch.

More than a dozen hikers were milling around when we arrived. Cheshire Cat was also here. This was the first time I had seen him since Day 31, when I saw him on the way to Cuba.

OT and No Keys said they were being forced to find a new place to stay. Apparently, the manager of the motel had been less than organized and helpful. At first, they thought they might be able to stay a second night here, but now they were told they had to check out.

Top O' and I tried to talk OT and No Keys into leaving town tomorrow with us, but they weren't ready to commit to that. OT seemed somewhat inclined to join us, but No Keys was firm in wanting to remain in Chama for at least another day. He wanted to take the regular CDT from Cumbres Pass, which would be the high route through a lot more snow.

Hikers leaving town in the back of a pickup truck

When Top O' and I got back to The Hotel, we sat on a deck overlooking the main street. The depot for the tourist train was across the street.

We shouted "Good luck!" to a pickup truck full of hikers, who were being shuttled back to Cumbres Pass.

While some hikers tried to return to the trail, most were turned back by the snow. Some have decided to go south to Santa Fe and take a few days off. Most hikers, however, are just sitting tight in Chama. It's as if they don't know what to do. They're hoping more of the snow melts soon. In the meantime, it's cheaper for them to stay here than in Santa Fe.

A hiker named Comet arrived at The Hotel while we were hanging out on the deck.

Later, I decided to send a few small items home that I no longer needed, like the Superfeet insoles I wore in my shoes when I started the CDT. When I switched to a new pair of shoes in Albuquerque, I wanted to try them without the Superfeet to see if I really needed the insoles. I never missed the insoles, so there was no reason to still carry them.

I saw OT again while I was at the post office. We talked more about leaving with Top O' and me tomorrow. It seemed that he was no longer wavering and wanted to stay in town another day with No Keys. I tried to convince him that one more day wasn't going to melt the snow enough to make the high route any easier. Unfortunately, I didn't change his mind.

OldTimer, No Keys, Top O', and Gravity

The four of us regrouped at 5 p.m. to eat dinner at the Box Car Café. Top O' and I gave one last shot at talking No Keys and OT into joining us tomorrow, but they still wanted to stick to their plan.

I'm not sure what I would do if Top O’ didn't want to keep going like I want to do. In my view, the snow conditions on the high route right now are still too dangerous to attempt to push through. That's been borne out by many stories from hikers who turned around and came back.

I guess I would sit around in Chama for a few more days. That seems unproductive when there is another route that will get me to Canada. And that's the goal I'm focused on.

Anyway, I'm glad I don't have to choose between taking the high route or sitting tight in Chama. Top O' and I will leave first thing tomorrow morning.

It's a buck dancer's choice my friend, better take my advice
You know all the rules by now, and the fire from the ice
Will you come with me? Won't you come with me?
Wo-oh, what I want to know, will you come with me?


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.