If you have been following our adventures for even a short time, you know by now that we get a lot of help from friends, family, and strangers. That was the case when we entered the town of Chama, NM on Day 30 and discovered that we weren’t leaving town anytime soon, at least not on foot and definitely on the CDT, which at that point was closed because of wildfires.
It was a sad realization that we could no longer continue our thru-hike the way we planned, but perhaps even sadder when we realized we were in a small town with no where to stay, as all the neighboring towns were evacuated and the hotels were at full capacity. First the owner of the local bookstore was on our side and let us have unlimited wifi access at her shop, all for the cost of a $1.50 coffee. Then it was other hikers on the CDT Facebook page that let us know of trail angels in town that was known to help out homeless hikers.
Those trail angels were Patsy and Geno, the owners of the local ice cream shop who let hikers stay in the empty 2 bedroom apartment above the shop. It doesn’t have furniture but it has a shower, a full kitchen, a roof, and best of all was free. Once Patsy and Geno heard our predicament they were happy to put us up in the apartment and even brought us items from their home like fresh towels, chairs and a pot for cooking. We were also able to use the laundry machine in the shop. Their generosity was endless and the apartment was just what we needed to take two days to figure out our next move in relation to the fires.
This is where another trail angel stepped in, also through the help of another thru-hiker on the CDT Facebook page. Word got out that we needed a ride up to Salida, a 3+ hour drive from Chama, and we got wind that a woman was driving through Chama that would give us a ride. It was a match made in heaven and Karla was our saving grace that picked us up and helped us get back on the trail. She had been evacuated from her home in South Fork, CO and was still willing to help us, despite her life being turned upside down from the fires.
While the fires seemed like a huge hindrance at first, once we worked through a solution and met so many good people, it was all a blessing in disguise to be in such good company, the real heart of the trail.