7/22 18.2 miles
Good thing I took the early ride back to the trail because otherwise it would have been hard not to stay in Leadore as the thunderclouds built up. Put on my rain gear at noon, huddled under a tree at 12:30 for 30″ as the lightening started going off in an exposed section of the ridge. But it was rather beautiful going from road to trail. Too much steep climbing because of the usual, the heavy pack on Day 1 of a 5 day stretch. There’s some some delicate tipping point in pack weight, where you don’t feel it, but then add a water haul (2.2 lbs per liter) or food (I pack instant disgusting oatmeal on 5 day hauls cause it weighs less, no wonder I’m melting away into scrawniness) and it slows you down and hurts and makes you crabby.
The trail went to dirt road and I hit the wall about 6:30 as I contemplated the umpteenth straight up another dumb hill just to go down the umpteenth hill. I flung my pack on the ground, a flat spot next to the trail in a little dip on the ridge. Nom came by and asked how I was doing. A casual question you should never ask me out of politeness because I’m incapable of not giving an honest answer. Which in this case was a little obscenity laden diatribe on how you can never find a tent site on the CDT when you want it. She kept going and I crawled into my tent as the wind picked up and vibrated the dyneema fabric so loudly I put earplugs in. But it was flat.
The wind died down at dark (10-ish currently), then picked up a few hours later, then died an hour before I got up.
7/23 22 miles
Much happier day and I made up the miles. A couple hours in, I saw who I’ve been looking for–Nuthatch! Party Saver! They’re heading NOBO for 800-900 miles and this was the section we’d overlap. I was also hoping to see Dassie and Mud Slide from 2017, but we figure they took an alternate down to Leadore cause they were a half day ahead of Nuthatch. I think this encounter with Nuthatch and exuberant Party Saver gave me an energy blast you can’t package and label. Oh the friends you make hiking!
Cloudy all day but the biting flies were the worst. My legs itch insanely. I finally had to put on the bug tights since I lost my Deet. Neighbor Bob in Jackson called it. There was a bushwhacking section in the tundra where Mobama passed me–nice people, they met in Davis, where I went to high school. I think they camped just down from the tundra walk after we got trail back. A couple miles later I stopped and talked with Totoro before walking another couple miles and camping in a spot Acorn commented on in Guthooks in 2017. Thanks Acorn! Protected by trees just before heading back out into sagebrush, cow country. No wind!
7/24 24.3 miles
Acorn also called out a cutoff on cow roads downhill to a crotch and uphill to Deadman Lake that worked great, cutting out 4.5 miles or so? I liked the cows and even saw a bull with balls head butting his buddy, a steer. Seems weird he was out this time of year when all the girls had calves but I know nothing, Jon Snow.
I saw Cantaloupe and Honey Dew in another traverse and Mobama caught up to me again.
It was hot again, especially with the bug tights but glorious open country and it’s Day 3 so my pack weight is lighter. I’m happy and healthy.
7/25 20.9 miles
Brutal, slow, beautiful. Perfect blue sky with a breeze for this high exposed day on the Divide. Where is everybody? I can see for miles ahead and miles behind and there’s nobody. Is there some fantastic alternate that everybody took that I don’t know about? I pitched my tent, knowing I could get a ride tomorrow scheduled at noon or 5. Like on the first night of this stretch I was on the ridge with views to both sides and no cover. I heard a sound like a very large marmot so I got out and looked a couple of ridges over to see proof of the sheep shit I’d been stepping over all day. A sheep itself, who saw me and galloped away.
At 9:40 pm, Cantaloupe and Honey Dew passed me as it was almost dark.
7/26 13 miles 6-11:15 am!
I walked as fast as I can on a non-tread, straight up, straight down ridge with slippery gravel and sagebrush claws. But it was only a few miles before I hit broad, gravel road, complete with hat-tipping cowboys in flatbed trucks. Then I ran, kinda, my pack is light so it’s not that hard. I wanted to make the noon pickup. Cantaloupe and Honey Dew (from Sitka, I know I’ve said it but it’s so awesome) got there about the same time. Shortly thereafter, Mike, from Mountain View Motel in Lima (like Lima bean!) got us.
And loitering at the motel was Dogma! From Pie Town! Her sweet pup Tullik, Trail name Tulips, is off trail with Dogma’s sister recovering from a hiker injury, but Dogma is hiking NOBO.
Obama, Morning Glory, Nom, Joe Dirt, Cantaloupe, Honey Dew and I went to the grill your own steak place. When we all raised our beer glasses to celebrate my CDT finish, the 3 guys at the bar cheered too.
7/27 On a bus to Salt Lake City, then a plane to Durango via Denver, then a day to resupply and then get a ride to Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado to hike a CDT alternate to join the CDT where it runs concurrently with the Colorado Trail (CT). I’m going to hike SOBO to finish, hopefully, the CT at Durango. Just because Colorado is crazy beautiful and to hike this is less than 200 miles. When I’ve been here before the trail was snow choked or closed because of fire danger. Fingers crossed.