Back to Benchmark

8/20-22: 58 miles
First sun in 3 days

Man, I’ve had a lot of vacations from the trail this year. The trip to Spokane and the wedding was fantastic. Not just a couple, but a whole family was married in a sweet, low-key ceremony and celebration. Megan and Jaime, son Tanner and daughter Emmarie, wonderful people. And Megan, cousin or “cuz” to my Glen, Sarah and Chris, was blown away that all three travelled to be a part of it. Yup, life is about people we care about.

Dan drove me back to Benchmark and I headed out for the last stretch of CDT I’m going to do this year. Within 1/2 hour, my feet were wet and cold and would stay that way until the third and final day. No bridges and cold crossings. By 10 am, a cold rain started and didn’t let up for 12 hours. I did see a bunch of wildlife though, a young bull moose and a bigger cow, probably his mom; deer; big, brown rabbits and baby bunnies too; along with the usual plethora of manic squirrels. When I got cold enough that my hands couldn’t work well enough to work the bear spray if necessary, I pitched my tent and crawled in after only 17 miles at 3 pm.

What are these white berries?

Fortunately, the next day was merely ugly, cloudy and gray. I trudged along the trail, routed not on the Divide, but in a series of creek valleys, green and sodden. I needed to make up the miles I hadn’t done the day before because of my fear of hypothermia. At the end of the day there were two climbs, steep, into clouds. I finally camped near an off- trail spring and woke with ice coating my tent inside and out.

75% of these hikers are Alaskan! Congrats Sauerdough (2nd from L) on your nearly done Triple Crown!
More berries

Uphill into the clouds

The third day, I’d left just 18 miles to Highway 200, but the trail profile showed 10 separate climbs so it was slow, grumpy cat going. I saw a bunch of NOBOs, including Lost Larry (“That doesn’t sound good,” I said when he introduced himself.) the head netted hiker who I’d met as he backtracked to Dubois because of the deep stream crossing that sent him swimming. Turns out, he’d found another way around that section and missed 2 bad crossings. Well done!

Near dinner time, I spotted Dan’s van below me in a turnout. Yay, no hitching! We camped nearby in a quiet campground and then headed west. The next two days involved renting a U Haul, picking up some old family furniture (a Hoosier, anybody remember those?), dropping off both vans, and flying out of SeaTac, me to Mammoth, CA and Dan home to AK.

I’ve left about 500 miles of the CDT unhiked, although I rehiked a bunch thus year. I’m off for a volunteer work week in Yosemite up in Tuolumne Meadows. I did this last year too, got to have priorities. Then I’m going to hike south on the PCT/JMT for a few weeks.

Life after the burn