Day 4, Saturday June 18
We’ve learned to not trust the signs designating whether roads or forests are closed. The best thing to do is go find the local Forest Ranger Station and ask. In this case, ALL roads north were closed indefinitely due to fire and severe washouts. We had to completely abandon the Continental Divide Trail today as the entire Santa Fe National forest was closed.
So… on to plan B (which I have to admit was my secret plan A). My Passport Book was wanting me to go out of the way to catch three historical monuments. This turned out to be a very relaxing day. And luckily, we all love this stuff!
We camped at Raina Campground overlooking Abiquiu Lake.
Day 5, Sunday June 19
Same story, another day. We scouted out the trouble spots, headed up the main highway for and were quickly into Colorado. We sure hated to miss such big sections of New Mexico but felt lucky to be able to see as much as we did.
Everything changed when we entered Colorado. No more fire! We cut back West at Antonito in order to get back on the CDT tracks. It was great to be back on the trail. Wow! What an amazing section of trail. I’m glad we didn’t miss this one. we climbed nearly 12,000 feet up and over the South San Juan Wilderness Area. Wind, rain, high altitude, sleet and even a little snow!
There was a beautiful little first come first serve cabin stocked with necessities for the hikers and bikers to use. There was plenty of firewood. It would be hard to leave once you rested at this place.
We’re hoping our friend Will gets to use it when he gets to this point…… On his bike…. 12,000 foot elevation. Dang. We see the bikers and hikers everywhere. Amazing.
So sorry, but we can’t pass by a National Park so as we finished the section we purposely headed toward the Great Sand Dunes NP. It was a long cold rainy day. We were late getting to the KOA Campground in Alamosa, but the rain let up and they delivered pizza to our car and the warm showers were welcome. 😊
We also tried out Eberspacher Diesel heater. Score! Success! David ordered all of the components and assembled our custom heating system. I have to brag. This thing is cool! We were able to find just the right size Dewalt storage box in which to permanently assemble our portable heater, including the fuel tank. I went to take a shower and came back to find David giddy in the rooftop tent at a comfortable 91 degrees. We still have a little bit to learn to fine tune the digital temperature controls, but EUREKA!! This is a game changer! 😁 The temperature outside by morning was below freezing. We only turned on the heater a couple of times during the night and stayed really comfortable.
Day 6, Monday June 20
I hate to say it, but the Great Sand Dunes National Park was a bit of a disappointment. We were expecting something more like White Sands in New Mexico which was amazing. Oh, well maybe it was just us. I got the stamp in my book and checked off another National Park. 😐
We had to go quite a ways north and west to pick back up on the actual CDT trail at about Camp Rock Gulch (??). This is a little confusing if you’re trying to follow the maps because we went further north to Ponch Springs and actually backtracked on the Kevin.gps tracks and found a beautiful state campground, Monarch Mountain near the Ski Resort. We had the place practically to ourselves. It was great to be able to spread out and let our goofy dogs run and play.
The weather was a little iffy so we tried to set up our little “Soccer Mom” pop up shelter one more time so we could all gather out of the weather for the evening. The thing has always been a pain but we do have some nice memories of jeeper friends huddling in it in the pouring rain. Enough already. We left it for garbage pickup. 😥
For those who asked, here are screenshots of our ACTUAL tracks laid over the keven.gps tracks. Our tracks are the heavy red lines. The numbered points are where we camped nights 1 through 6. Questions??