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[CDT-L] Update: Flight of the Spirit Eagle



Greetings from the Flight of the Spirit Eagle. We're enjoying the long 
weekend in Pagosa Springs, our last stop in Colorado. The weather is 
gorgeous, warm and sunny during the days, but very chilly at night. Down 
here there are still aspen leaves in full color. The town is full of 
hunters - nice folks, and very different from the beautiful people in the 
ski resorts up north. We had a good short jaunt from Creede. We're sorry to 
miss the loop around Creede, but given the uncertainty of the weather and 
the fact that the woods are full of people with very different agendas, we 
decided it was best to make tracks for New Mexico. We'll come back. Our 
first taste of the San Juans two years ago, plus the trails that we hiked 
during the past week, have made us very eager to come back at a more 
hospitable time of year. But then, there are a lot of places out here we 
intend to come back to visit again. This truly is "God's Country" - so very 
beautiful.
Before hunting season started, we saw two herds of elk (one with 17, one 
with 22 elk), plus a half dozen deer, two antelopes and two moose (Boris 
and Natasha - they ran from us at first, then when we started to set up our 
tent in their meadow, decided to charge down the hill to see what we were 
up to. Getting charged by even a young moose is enough to make you pay 
attention!
Fortunately, Boris decided that we were more or less harmless, and they 
went back to grazing before they actually knocked us down.) Since then, 
we've heard the elk bugle (fantastic sound, especially when you are sitting 
in an open meadow, sipping hot chocolate, watching the stars rise,) and 
heard two packs of coyotes about 100 yards from where we lay in our 
sleeping bags ("Those are coyotes, right? Not wolves?")
We're hoping the weather will continue to cooperate until we get down to 
New Mexico (and afterwards too.) The high alpine country is incredibly 
beautiful, with views of ridge after ridge receding in the distance, deep 
glacial cirques on both sides of the trail, and eagles soaring overhead, 
but this last 6" snowfall, while we were safely in Creede, reminded us that 
it is no place to be in serious winter weather. We've had to deal with 
slush and mud, and only an inch or two still on the ground, but next time 
may not be as lucky.
Anyhow - by Saturday we should be in Chama. The lack of maps isn't so bad, 
we were able to replace those, but it will be interesting to hike the South 
San Juans without the guidebooks. In several places, Jim Wolf mentions 
"obscure junctions." We've learned that when he says "obscure" he means 
OBSCURE. Wish us luck. It's good training for New Mexico, and besides, we 
are certainly used to being lost. It's no big deal; just keep heading 
south, eventually we'll get there.
Thanks to all who have been so supportive. The notes from friends and the 
goody boxes have been terrific (those that actually reached us - we've had 
a few notes from people saying, "Did you like your box?" and we never saw it.
I think some postal employees have been eating our brownies! - Remember, it 
does help to put on the box "Hold for CDT hikers, ETA October X.) Most of 
the postal workers we've met have been terrific, full of information about 
the town or other hikers on the trail.(There are two couples about a week 
behind us, and others who have mail being held in some of the towns along 
the way that we don't know anything about.) Anyhow, your help and 
friendship are very much appreciated. Thanks.
It looks like we may get out of Colorado alive (Thank you God!) and despite 
our decision to take it easy and "smell the roses" we may actually make it 
to Mexico. That feels strange, but really good. Of course, we still have 
700-800 miles to go, but we're on course (and not that far off schedule!)
Walk softly,
Jim and Ginny
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