It’s the time of year for Continental Divide Trail thru-hikers

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By Addie Greer
Special to The PREVIEW
It’s that time of year again, sunshine, no-see-ums, hummingbirds, all the things we like and dislike about late spring.
Along with regular work, there is yard and volunteer work we can do and one other thing most of us can easily do is add one or two riders to our cars as we go about our daily business of work and play.
It’s the time of year the “NOBOs” (north bound) Continental Divide Trail (CDT) thru-hikers (hiking from Mexico to Canada) pass through Pagosa Springs. These hikers stop in Pagosa for a day or two (and sometimes longer depending on weather or a wait for re-supply package at the post office.) While they are here, they love eating at local restaurants and they always need to shop the grocery stores for fresh food items.
Pagosa Springs became a gateway community last year and, as such, we are supposed to be welcoming to those using the National Scenic Trail. The Continental Divide Trail Coalition defines it this way: “Gateway communities are towns that recognize the unique economic and cultural value that the CDT brings. They make services accessible to hikers, educate local residents, and advocate for continued access to public lands.”
I am writing this article in the hope that SUN readers, locals and tourists alike, will recognize thru-hikers and help them as they can. Mostly it means a lift from post office to grocery and back; but you can also offer rides to and from the trail at summit of Wolf Creek Pass, as well as invite them into your home for a much-appreciated home-cooked meal — the larger/heartier, the better. Some of the thru-hikers save weight by foregoing a stove and eating only nuts, seeds, jerky and, such, and a real meal is a high-level treat.
As what’s known as a “trail angel,” I have been helping for about 12 years now and I have enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. Just last week, after offering rides to and fro, a couple of young men camped in the yard and as they ate the waffles I served up, they seemed starved for conversation. I learned one was adopted from Russia, as is our son, and the other fellow had kayaked from his home state of Indiana to Louisiana, as well as bicycled across the United States from Florida to California.
“Tenderfoot” and “Guide” were using map and compass as well as GPS and phone application to navigate, and were averaging 25-30 miles a day on their epic journey. The names I generally know them by are trail names; they usually are given by other thru-hikers for something that happens along the way. I grimaced at the photos of Tenderfoot’s huge blisters from wearing the wrong shoes for some of the trail; it reminded me of how I often learn things “the hard way.”
These young men were polite, appreciative and full of funny stories and information about traveling on “the spine” of our great country. I urge all readers to please pick up these grungy-looking folks about town; yes, you may have to leave windows down if they haven’t gotten to shower yet, but it is an easy and friendly thing to do in our sweet little town.
Near the end of summer, the SOBOs will also pass through town; not as large in number, but just as interesting and in need of rides — please keep an eye out and offer them what you can as well. I think I can safely promise you, it will be worth your while.