CDT 2021: Day 47, Park Creek to U.S. Highway 160 and Pagosa Springs

That's because he's smarter than the average bear

Park Creek Canyon

In thru-hiking parlance, "yogi" is a verb. It means to ask for something without asking for it. Thru-hikers will often employ this technique by striking up a conversation with a stranger who isn't a hiker, hoping for a ride, drink, or snack but not saying so.

"Is this the right road into town?" the thru-hiker might ask while hoping for a ride. Or maybe a forlorn look will be used while trying to get a handout, saying, "I hope I don't run out of food."

Yogi’ing done right is indirect, though not always subtle. Still, it doesn't put the stranger on the spot. It's used to give the other person a chance to respond as he or she wishes.

DateSunday, May 30, 2021
WeatherClear, then becoming partly cloudy; temperatures from low-30s to mid-70s
Trail ConditionsGravel road with a gradual descent
Today's Miles7.1
Trip Miles706.1

I learned today that Top O' has mastered the technique of yogi’ing for a ride. Like me, he is hiking the third leg of thru-hiking's Triple Crown, so he's had practice at yogi'ing. I was impressed when I saw him employ his skills this morning.

A camper and ATVs are parked near Park Creek

The day started cold but without frost. The temperature this morning wasn't quite down to freezing. Our campsite was a little lower in elevation than yesterday. We also had a little more tree cover, and that often helps to reduce condensation.

Once again, we followed a road that was covered in the shadow cast by nearby mountains. That kept the temperature lower than if we were in sunshine.

The road continued to be easy as it followed the gentle descent of Park Creek. We saw many more RVs and ATVs parked on the sides of the road than yesterday. This road was a popular spot for those activities, though no one was getting an early start like we were.

Park Creek is so popular with weekenders that a restoration effort was begun to mitigate overuse. Fences and signs were erected to disperse the impacts of recreational visitors.

The road through Park Creek Valley

As we descended, the mountains on either side of the road eased into rolling hills. The descent became less steep.

The seven miles we had to walk today started at about 9,270 feet in elevation and ended at 8,500 feet.

Park Creek

Top O' and I weren't in a hurry. We saw no point in getting to the trailhead too soon. We wanted to make sure there would be people there or driving by who might be willing to take us to Pagosa Springs. That's also why we didn't try to go farther yesterday.

We didn't want to get to town too soon. If we did, none of the businesses would be open, and we wouldn't be able to check into our motel.

Top O' walks next to Park Creek

When we got closer to the trailhead, the valley narrowed to a canyon. There was only room for the road and Park Creek between the tall rock walls.

The last mile of the road opened to a wider valley. Just ahead was a parking area and U.S. Highway 160, the road between Pagosa Springs and South Fork.

Top O' was ahead of me when we arrived, so I didn't get a chance to witness his initial conversation with Shelly, a woman who had stopped at the trailhead to walk her dogs. What I did see, however, was a masterful work of yogi'ing.

Top O' and Gravity ride in the back of a truck

Within a couple of minutes, she offered to take us to Pagosa Springs. The only caveat was that we needed to ride in the back of her pickup. We had no problem with this. Anyway was fine so long as we got a ride. Shelly even offered to take us directly to our motel.

Top O' and Shelly

Shelly dropped us off at the motel at 10:15 a.m. She didn't want to take any gas money, but we insisted she take it. She had driven us nearly 40 miles.

Not surprisingly, our room wasn't ready for us to check-in, so Top O' and I left our packs in a back room and hitched a ride to downtown Pagosa Springs. It was crowded with holiday tourists.

We decided to eat an early lunch at Riff Raff Brewing so we wouldn't have to wait in line later. We then bought some fuel at an outdoor store and hitched back to our motel. By that time, our room was ready.

We met Doggone and Taxilady for dinner

Later, just before we began our task of trying to figure out what to do next, I added an update to my Facebook page.

"The mountains ahead are higher than we’ve already climbed and the snow is not melting fast enough," I wrote. "We may need to flip north to Wyoming, then hike back to Pagosa Springs before completing the rest of the trail north to Canada."

Soon after I posted that, my PCT friend Gilligan replied, saying, "Hope we get to spoil you and give you a couple (or more!) zero days sometime soon."

Gilligan and her husband, Captain, were members of the Woohoo Crew, my tramily for the first 700 miles of my PCT hike. They had already invited me to stay with them when I said I was planning to hike the CDT. Now was looking like an ideal time to do that.

I replied to her comment by saying, "I would love that! Right now, though, I’m not sure where I’m going or how I’m getting there."

This was true. Top O' and I didn't know how to get to Wyoming. Renting a car seemed impossible. Maybe going by bus would work, but there was no service from Pagosa Springs.

When Gilligan repeated her offer, I began to think a stop at their house would work. It would give Top O' and me a chance to take a short break while flipping to Wyoming. Adding a day or more would also allow time for more snow to melt and make the trail safer.

Her invitation was starting to sound very appealing, and I didn't even have to yogi for it.

Yogi Bear is smarter than the average bear
Yogi Bear is always in the ranger's hair
At a picnic table, you will find him there
Stuffing down more goodies than the average bear

He will sleep till noon but before it's dark
He'll have every picnic basket that's in Jellystone Park

Yogi has it better than a millionaire
That's because he's smarter than the average bear


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