CDT Day 105 – The Descent

17.2 miles hiked
Camping @ 8921 ft
Our tent has turned into an igloo. Ice on the inside, ice on the outside. The ground is covered in frost and when I try to step into my shoes they have frozen solid.
So so so ccccold! Thankfully the sky is blue, although the sun isn’t particularly warm just yet. With all my layers on we hike down past 2 beautiful lakes and up around a corner to our first pass of the day. There is nada left in me today. My body forgot to do that thing where it recharges overnight, and I am struggling to climb. I find Grizzly and Tigerlilly at the top  – the sun is finally out, so absolutely everything in our packs is spread out over rocks to warm up and dry out. I find out that they too are running on empty, so I feel a little better about my broken legs. My food bag has pretty much turned into a rubbish bag with not much left to eat,  but I dig through the rubbish while we are sitting and find an oat bar hiding at the bottom! Yeow!
Finally our things are satisfactorily dry so they get stuffed away and we hike on. 2 more climbs and we all catch up at the junction of the CDT and CT. Tigerlilly is continuing on the CDT – we already hiked down thay way when heading south on the CT / CDT, so we are to exit the trail via the CT to get us to Silverton.
It’s very cold so we say our goodbyes, take a couple of photos and take our separate paths. I realise we’ve all been hiking together for 10 days! That’s a long time in hiker land, and awesome to have such great company.
A tiny bump then we start the great descent – 10 miles downhill. An epic mountain of switchbacks descends into a beautiful canyon. A creek meanders next to us, getting larger and smaller as we head down. The canyon quickly towers; the rocks massive above us.
Raspberry bushes appear on the sides of the trail and we take lots of much needed stops to eat as many as we can. Om nom nom.
The trees grow taller and aspens grow denser around us. We finally reach the bottom of our 10 mile descent, and find a campsite near the rushing Animas river and a railway track. It’s actually flat! Amazing! Surrounded by tall mountains, we’re at 8921ft- a far cry from the 12500ft we were at earlier today. We eat the last little dinner rations from our food bags. We are still so hungry, but tomorrow is the last little section and then there will be food! All the food! Colorado has kicked my butt. The combination of altitude and cold has stolen my insulation layer I have been closely guarding pretty much my whole life. There are new bones I can feel poking out that I don’t remember ever feeling. Must eat more foooood! Today has been a stunning day. It gets an elephant stamp and gold star for sure.

CDT Day 104 The Window

Camping @ 12087ft
18.1 miles hiked
I am a human popsicle.
I tossed and turned all night, never able to get warm. When I wake, there is ice above my head in the inside of the tent where the condensation has frozen. The rain fly is covered with frost all around the bottom. No wonder I was cold!!!
I eat my Bobos oat bar and head on out of camp, wearing my ineffectual Frogg Toggs pants and jacket to push my way through the wet willow bushes. It takes about 2 minutes before I  am completely saturated.
I hike up over a little hill and down canyon following a stream. Tigerlily has stopped a couple of miles out to collect water and make coffee, but as I have enough water and want to conserve our gas to make sure we have enough for hot dinner, I sadly pass on by dreaming dreams of espresso machines. Today in our game of Practical Item and Luxury Item  (in which you get to choose one of each that you would like to add to your pack; neither of which weight anything nor take up any space) my luxury item is an espresso machine, complete with awesome barista. My practical item, for the bazillionth time, is a pair of dry shoes and socks. A girl can dream.
Down down down I hike, and strawberry patches start to appear again on the sides of the trail. I stop to sample a few, the tiny little red fruit no bigger than a fingernail but bursting with flavour. This is what they are supposed to look like, not the super-sized flavourless rubbish we get in the supermarkets. Made even better as these ones are organic and free 🙂 An older couple pass by with a beautiful golden retriever, who is very clever and carrying his own little saddle bags ( with basically nothing in them but he likes to wear them!) for their weekend trip. Such a happy doggy!
The trees stop and the ground flattens as it spills out onto a long wide meadow. Grizzly catches me here, and is in a dangerous hangry state, so we stop for eating and drinking and laying out the wet tent.
I slosh through streams that crowd the meadow, across to a big climb on the other side. There is a great notch carved out of the top of the mountain ridge here, in the perfect shape of a window. It is called…The Window. We are to hike up under it so we pick out a spot on our maps to meet for lunch that will have a view. The speedy zoomers zoom on ahead of me up the climb. I pass by several curious marmots standing on their hind legs staring at me. I try to engage them in conversation (“Aren’t you a beautiful marmot? You’re so handsome!”) but alas they don’t talk back.
As I’m getting towards the top of the climb it starts to sprinkle and by the time I catch Tigerlily and Grizzly, take my food bag out for lunch, it starts to pour. We huddle in our usual spot underneath the not-quite-large-enough tyvek, and discover that it is now leaking. Crap crap crap. My rainpants are soaked through and I’m very quickly freezing. When we have decided that the thunder isn’t going to bite us, we brave the storm and hike out into the near freezing temperatures. The climb up and over the pass warms me slightly, but on the other side wind is blowing the rain directly into us and I fast descend into borderline dangerously cold territory. My brain ceases to function and I can’t talk. It takes everything I have to keep shuffling forward, which I have to do because there is nowhere to hide!
10 miles of rain. 10 miles of trying to visualise fireplaces, hot beaches, heaters, blankets. It’s so bitterly disappointing because between the fog, clouds and rain I can see that this is easily one of the most beautiful sections of trail and we aren’t able to enjoy it.
The trail passes through a neverending maze of whomping willows. They are saturated, so even when the rain stops every brush past a branch soaks my pants and jacket right through.
Somehow we make it to camp. About 2 miles beforehand the rain finally stopped, which vaguely registered in my still-popsicled brain. I eat as much food as I can and cocoon myself in whatever clothes I have that are dry. Hopefully tonight there will be sleep, and warmth! Have I mentioned it’s cold up here at altitude in Colorado? Brrrrr!

CDT Day 103 Knifes Edge

Camping @ 11732 ft
19.2 miles hiked
The pitter patter of rain in the tent greets me as I wake. I groan and roll over. Half an hour, I tell myself.
38 minutes later the rain has stopped so I go about the morning busyness of stuffing all my things away, eat a bar and start hiking.
Lots of exposed ridge climbing today, beginning with a climb that jumps straight out of our camp. It’s coooold and for the first time in a long time I start hiking with my long underwear, puffy and beanie on. I think Montana was the last time I’ve been so cold in the morning. There is little evidence of yesterday’s white winter, except on the distant peaks from where we hiked – apparently the epi-centre of the craziness – that are still white capped. There are amazing views of stunning mountains all around. So this is what that horrid storm was hiding!
We are all short on water after our manky last stop yesterday, but thankfully it’s only a couple of miles before we cross a stream. Tigerlily and I make coffee, Grizzly eats some oatmeal, I filter water and soak oats for later in the day.
Onwards we go looking down the steep dropoff to the side of the trail to a glistening lake and rocky outcrops of different coloured stones all around us. There is a sharp turn and we are at the ‘Knifes Edge’ a super skinny looong section of loose rock and scree. Huge towering rock rises vertical on our left, to our right is a steep drop of a few hundred feet. Underfoot is very slippery small rocks and sand. Again, I’m so happy to be hiking this Not in the snow!
The rock hides lots of little nooks and mini caves, many clearly the resting place of little creatures who have left nests of dry grass.
We walk along this semi circle around the little lakes, trees and grasses below, then climb up and over a small notch on the other side, and into a new world to marvel at. In the distance there is a hiker coming towards us. The first Sobo! His name is Phantom, he started in June from Glacier and has been doing regular 30 mile days simply because he is too hungry and can’t carry enough food to be out of town for longer stretches! Zoom zoom!
Across a high meadow and down the otherside. The trail is now overgrown with lush tall grasses and lillies, and we make a lunch stop next to a beautiful clear rushing stream. Almond butter and crackers consumed, I hike on and see another Sobo! Sobo season has come to Colorado.
The view at the top of this post-lunch climb is breathtaking. The trail again hugs the side of a mountain, following the curve around to the opposite side. Dropping far below in the valley is an amazing stream flowing through the centre. The stream is flanked by light coloured rock that is littered with little pines, and next to the rock is lush greenery everywhere. As it drops there are multiple waterfalls whose rushing noise echoes through the mountains.
On the otherside there are lots of rocks lining the trail, and then in the distance I see a homeless looking Grizzly hiding under the tyvek as the daily rain has commenced.
Tigerlily catches up and we all hide for a little while, then hike on to get over the 12800ft peak. The top is wonderful. Instead of gradual rolling mountains, the mountains are stacked right up next to each other – climb after climb after climb. Nothing gradual here!
The clouds have built and the hail has come. We hike through it as there isn’t any lightning to hide from today. It feels like I’m hiking through a miniature paintball game with sharp shooters aiming at me with precision. Gah the little ice pellets sting!
One more ridge to climb over, down through muddy muddy trail surrounded by willow, and we manage to find a dry, slightly elevated, place to camp.
We eat as much as our meagre food bags will allow, put all the layers on again and settle in for a chilly night!

CDT Day 102 – Brrr Cold!

Camping @ 11742ft
17.4 miles hiked
The sky is clear and promisingly blue when we wake. I chomp on a probar as I pack away all my things and brace myself for the climb ahead. A couple of miles before we camped we passed the creede cutoff, which is the route most early nobos take. Continuing through the south san juans in the direction we are going, the trail gets a lot trickier and more exposed making it dangerous hiking in the snow. Thankfully all the snow is now gone, but that doesn’t change the elevation or skinny sketchy trail we have to follow!
I struggle on the climb up. Not sure if it’s an altitude thing or just a general ‘this is a hard climb and you will be breathless regardless’ thing, but I eventually make my slow way to the top where Grizzly and Tigerlilly are sitting looking at the view from the little knife edge trail.
We hike down into the valley, stopping for water and second breakfast at a little stream halfway down.
The elevation profile of the trail around here resembles a saw – so very jagged with lots of climbing up and down.
We set our sights on a lake for lunch, but stop 1.5 miles from it to eat some food while hoping for a storm system to pass us by. It seems to hang around, so we continue onwards to the lake. The lake turns out to be a manky pond covered in algae. The temperature drops, the light disappears and the rain starts just as I’m collecting a dodgy litre as the next water is nearly 7 miles away.
The thunder and lightning are all around us now.  We make a beeline for a group of trees and settle down under the tyvek. It’s now doing its snow / hail thing. It seems as though 2 storm systems have merged right above us and the thunder and lightning are crazy! When we next peek out from under the inadequate cover it looks as though winter has arrived. The previously bare mountains around us are now dusted white. There is at least 2 inches of hail covering the ground all around us. I’m feeling a little manic from the cold, and all I can think about is soup, fresh bread, a fireplace and puppy dogs. Somehow I manage to turn this into a crazy song of sorts and repeat it over and over…maybe if I say it enough it will come true.
Eventually the thunder is spaced out enough that we decide to hike to warm up.
I am absolutely freezing. Shivering with numb hands and feet, I stumble foward with my poles awkwardly shoved in my palms without being able to grip them, and landing strangely on the big bricks at the end of my legs that I can’t feel.
We decide to set up camp early wherever we find a flat spot, except the only flat spot is covered in ice that would soak through the tent, so we hike on.
My brain has frozen and I’m going down the rabbit hole of negative thinking. Except, I keep reminding myself, I’ve done this before and it all worked out fine. It seems like we are hiking forever.  Stuck on a trail that goes up and down and up and down for eternity. The rain miraculously stops and the clouds begin to dissipate. A weak sun peers through and we are hopeful it will melt off some of this ice.
I’m right at the end of my tether, looking up at a steep narrow climb, when I see Tigerlily standing next to a tree and…a flat spot!!! It’s an absolute miracle. We would otherwise have had a 3.7 mile hike that would take us into dark – not great on the best of days but even worse when we are all chilled to the core.
We set up with fumbling hands, eat some warm things with the tiny amount of water left, and hunker down with all our layers on. It looks like the clouds are rejoining in the distance, and a cold cold wind has started whistling through. Thinking warm warm thoughts as I settle down to sleep.

CDT Day 100 and 101

Day 100 – zero! Waiting for the post office to open
Day 101 – 15.2 miles hiked 895.7 @ 11745ft
This morning we are all up and out of the room fairly early in time for a group outing to the post office. Grizzly has a resupply box to pick up, I have a birthday surprise to pick up and Tigerlily is bouncing forward some things he doesn’t need for this section.
I receive an awesome tshirt care of my gorgeous friend Lauren, from the perfectly named company Hikertrash. Hikertrash is owned and operated by a badass hiker named She-Ra – she was on the CDT last year and you should check out her blog with lots of brilliant adventures.
Packs fully loaded with way too heavy food bags, we have organised a ride back to wolf creek pass with a lovely local angel Addi. I spy a book in the back of her car as we are loading our packs, about the local edible and medicinal plants. I keep talking about wanting to know more about the millions of plants we hike by everyday, so this is perfect! I grab the book and bury my nose for the 20 mile ride back up, only raising it to pipe in with the conversation every now and then.
We tumble out of the car and straight up a 1.5 mile climb to take us back to 11594ft elevation. I stop at the top, feeling nauseated. Probably a combination of being back at altitude, having a heavy pack squeezing my belly, and making the silly mistake of reading in the car. I get carsick sitting in the back of a car at the best of times, so add in a very windy mountain road and reading and I’m doomed.
I drink some water and catch my breath and my stomach settles down, so we continue down the bumpy up and down trail. We come to a gorgeous lake sitting on the edge of a cliff, surrounded perfectly by boulders and trees. There are 2 hikers here  -one crazy young guy who swims out to the other side, climbs up a boulder and backflips in! Way too cold for me to consider!
I eat some things and fill my water and we are off again. We come across a large group of young guys who are out for a couple of nights. It’s a bit of a mystery how they all came to be here – there are about 15 of them but aren’t part of any organisation and are from all over. Hmm. We leap frog with them for a little as we pass them, stop for water, pass them again, stop to put on rain gear.
Thunder is booming, the rain starts but then…it starts to snow. SNOW. In August! Isn’t this supposed to be summer?? I guess that’s what we can expect from now on up here at 12000ft.
It is freezing and we hike as fast as we can.  We have to stop for water as it’s the last for 12 miles, so now our packs are extra heavy just in time to climb up to 12556ft. Thankfully the snow has moved on, and the climb warms us nicely. Through rock fields, up above the trees. The views are beautiful either side of the ridge, of rolling mountains and valleys. Marmots and pikas yell as we pass, and I see their fluffy forms scampering away to hide in their rocky homes.
It’s ridge walking for a long time, so the first flat spot we find becomes home for the night.  The combination of altitude plus cold has flipped all the hunger switches in my brain and I have to eat everything!!! Trail mix, ramen, cookies. Eventually I make some tea to squash the hunger, knowing that at 1am I’ll be severly regretting drinking so much liquid before bed. Eeeps I hope I have enough food left because otherwise day 5 of this stretch is going to be miserable!
Fed and warmish, it’s time to bundle up in everything and sleep.

CDT Day 99 Pagosa Springs

17.6 miles hiked, Pagosa Springs
It’s a beautiful day for a hike! My shoes are not wet, the tent has just a bit of condensation and today we are headed into town.
I rummage through my food bag and find a bar to munch on for breakfast. It’s slim pickings in the food department today, but it’s not a long day and there is town at the end of it so I’m sure I’ll survive.
We have a few small climbs that wind through pine trees and green meadows. There’s not a lot of water coming up so we have to take more than we would have normally, and stop at our last marked creek to fill up our containers.
After we leave the creek it’s another mile or so uphill. Now, of course, the clouds are here. The temperature drops suddenly and it starts to sprinkle a little as we descend the skinny rocky path, then just as we reach a junction below thunder starts going crazy right above us. It begins as fat snow flakes then decides it wants to be pea sized hail, so I sit on a log and pull out the trusty tyvek to hide under, cramming my pack underneath as well. Grizzly comes down the hill and squishes underneath as well, and we spend the better part of 20 minutes waiting for it to pass. The amount hail on the ground is crazy and all our feet are now fully soaked from walking through the big piles of hail and the wet plants we brush past on the skinny trail. There are more clouds and more thunder in the distance, so we consult our maps and find there is an alternate that won’t take us high up on an exposed ridge. Bueno.
We hike down what appears to be an old overgrown jeep road towards the Wolf Creek ski area. It’s obviously used by bike riders and maybe an occasional hiker as we follow their tracks. I look down and see that we are surrounded by wild strawberries. We all stop and eat a few then hike on a bit, then stop again and ear some more. A few more steps, a few more strawberries. They are tiny and bursting with flavour. I can’t believe there aren’t any signs of bears here – all you can eat strawberry buffet is waiting! We rename this road the strawberry alternate. I could stop and eat all day but we have miles to do!
We pass under the chairlifts for the ski resort. I was here in January on their insane amounts of snow so it’s amazing to see the transformation into lush green summer-land.
We spill out onto the road, try in vain to hitch for a while, then walk the mile or so up to the big sign showing the great divide and the Continental Divide. Lots of cars stop here for a photo; nothing like snaring someone in a conversation to get a hitch! We chat for a while to a couple who are actually headed the other way, but if we are here when they return they’ll pick us up. We head to the other side of the road, thumbs out and eventually a young guy emerges from the trail who has just droppes some friends off on the CDT for a section hike.
We all pile into his rattly car, cross fingers it lasts the 20 miles to Pagosa and we are off.
Amazingly we make it there in one piece and packsplode in the hotel room. It’s a gorgeous town but a pain in the butt for hikers – the laundromat is 2.5 miles from downtown so we have to take a cab there. We decide Thai food sounds good, so I take the cab further to pick up dinner then come back to gourmet dinner eating in the laundromat in my rainsuit. It’s a good look.
Finally clean, another cab ride back to the hotel where we watch Rio olympics for a while before fading away.

CDT Day 98 Elk!

18.6 miles hiked, camping @ 11667ft
It’s a coffee kinda morning. Despite our beautiful surroundings, our campsite was not a great one and we spent much of the night adjusting sliding sleeping pads on the not-so-flat ground. It’s a stunning day though, and we climb out of camp, across to the other side of the meadow and begin climbing up and over the pass. I take my time and stop a lot along the way, because sometimes one just needs to put daisies in one’s hair.  With each braid suitably adorned, I climb up up up and reach the flat meadow at the top. Well, flat-ish; I’m not sure there is anything flat in the San Juans. The trail winds down into the next valley, where we stop for water and a snack before climbing onwards and upwards. Across valleys, up a pass, down the otherside -this is the pattern in this section.
After a lunch taken by the Adams fork of the Conejos river we have a big climb over another pass which takes us up over 12600ft in altitude. The wide plateau at the top is stunning. Being so high we are no longer looking up at mountains, but across at their peaks. We pass little patches of snow that are stiĺl lingering, and not for the first time I think how happy I am to be hiking this section at this time of year. Postholing to my waist, and missing out on the flowers and the beautiful blues and greens stretching out all around me, does not sound appealing. Although a white-covered snowy world is stunning, we’ve definitely hiked some sketchy stretches of trail since Chama that I do not envy the early Nobos navigating in the snow. Tigerlilly is stopped in the trail looking at the top of the red rocky ridgeline, where a herd of deer are running across the top. I count 9 deer prancing across to a little gap then disappearing on the otherside.
We catch up to Grizzly, and moments later are treated to a spectacular sight in the lush green valley below. The plateau falls away sharply to a wide shelf, which then drops off in a wide gradual steps to the valley floor. Making their way up these grass and pine covered steps is about 40 elk! We stand mesmerized. They are too far away to be worried by us, but close enough that we can count them. Amazing!
We finally tear our eyes away, and are next treated to 3 mule deer staring down at us from a grey rocky peak above. I’m amazed at how well they blend in. A falcon is chasing a little bird above the deer. A little more hiking and we get to see a coyote in hunting mode; he pounces unsuccessfully on a late lunch, while another deer with beautiful antlers looks on. The wind is in our favour as it blows towards us and we get to watch for a while. So much wildlife today! This is where all the animals have been hiding – above 12000ft!
Another little climb and then we descend towards the trailhead where we have decided to camp tonight.
An absolutely spectacular day. Amazing scenery, beautiful animals, gorgeous weather. Yep – this is what hiking these trails is all about!

CDT Day 97 Moose!

17.4 miles hiked, Camping @ 11335ft
I wake in the middle of the night to a huge storm evidently right on top of our tent. I hold my hand in front of my face and can barely see it  – it is pitch black until…
lightning strikes again and it hurts my eyes it is so bright
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much lightning in such a short space of time- around every 20 seconds. I close my eyes and the light is still so bright it shines red. I pull my beanie over my eyes and can still see it.
It stays overhead for about 20 minutes, then slowly slowly moves on but it takes me a long time to get back to sleep.
At 6am I quietly exit the tent in search of a ‘loo’. The lake looks perfect for moose so I’m hoping to see one having breakfast as I exit, but sadly there are none.
Back in the tent I somehow manage to fall asleep again and am woken by Grizzly at 7. It takes me a long time to work up the courage to put on my shoes that have been converted into miniature swimming pools overnight. The sun is shining but my rain gear is on as everything is soaking wet, and I’ll be pushing my way through wet grass, trees and through boggy meadows until the sun warms it all up.
I hike up onto a ridge that gives me a high view of the little lake and the trees that hide last night’s campsite. Past lots of boulders and broken rock, we stop for feet drying after a couple of hours, before continuing along the wide open terrain.
Lunchtime is perched on some more boulders where tents are laid out, and socks and shoes are once more removed. I make coffee as we found a half full fuel canister in the hiker box at the hotel, so I can be a bit more extravagant with my fuel usage. Yay coffee!
Across rocks and through meadows the trail meanders, past pikas and marmots sunning themselves on high vantage points.
We come across the most beautiful little lake where we stop for 5 minute break. I lament that it is only early as there are some magnificent campsites here. As we are sitting 2 bull moose emerge from the trees and commence munching on the long grass in front of us. They are so close but don’t seem to mind our presence at all! We watch for ages, at one point joined by a deer as well, and eventually the moose make their exit and so do we.
I’m perplexed by the appearance of campers around this area. I can’t seem to see any roads close by, but judging by the size of their tents  (big!) there must be one close.
Our final climb for the day takes us over a few peaks and down into the next valley. We’re back in the land of orcas! Giant curved mountain tops with white patches of snow that look to me like beautiful swimming whales. Over the next pass, then we enter a huge semicircle of mountains that dips steeply into a valley with a river snaking through the centre. The trail follows the curve 3/4 the way around, at which point it climbs up and over another pass and into a new world on the other side. We luckily find a camp spot about halfway around in amongst some spruce trees, otherwise the steep elevation would mean up and over before calling it a night.
A yummy ramen with vegemite dinner, some watching of tiny screens, then early early sleep. Such a beautiful day! Such beautiful trail!

CDT Day 96 San Juans

Camping @ 11234ft
15.6 miles hiked
Tigerlily arranged a ride back to the trailhead for us with a guy that saved him from a short but brutal rainstorm on the way to the hotel yesterday. We fuss about stuffing away everything, heat up some burritos and are ready and waiting when our ride shows around 920am. Nice work Tigerlily!
We spend the ride answering questions about hiking and hikers; he has just moved to Chama and is keen to start a business supporting CDT hikers with supplies, rides and maybe accommodation. Chama could definitely use something like that! Pretty much every CDT hiker stops in Chama. For Nobos this is the point where you have to wait for snow to melt in the southern San Juans, or try and hitch north if you are flipping.
Back at the trailhead we cross over the railroad amd commence an 8ish mile gradual climb back into altitude. “Come on up!” welcomes Colorado.
We stop after only 5 miles for some water and to try and eat our food down. Our food bags are heeeaaavy! We are deliberately doing this section slowly as we have boxes at the post office – if we go normal pace we would arrive Saturday meaning more money spent on hotels and town things in a fairly pricey town. We plan on arriving in Pagosa Springs on Sunday, giving us a day to soak in the springs before getting our boxes and back on the trail Monday.
The trail gets prettier as we climb. Big rocky crags jut out from the side of the mountains, a giant waterfall spills down into a valley that we gaze across, yellow and deep purple wildflowers are scattered across the green grasses. Once up over a mountain pass the trail levels off and we are hiking on top of a flat mountain with great views either side. To the east we can see Blanca Peak and the great sand dunes. North shows us lots of high waves of mountain we are about to encounter.
Of course the clouds have all appeared and are thundering scarily above. We stop a few times trying to figure out which way they are headed, and eventually just 1.2 miles from our campsite the sky explodes around us with lightning, thunder, a small scattering of hail and loooots of rain. We hide, shivering, under a spruce until the worst has passed, then continue down to the lake where our bougie little campsite awaits.
We sit on furniture (chopped logs) while cooking our latest amazing dinner creation – a can of Amy’s vegetable soup, with a couple of spoons of vegemite stirred in, poured over ramen noodles. Sooooo gooood! We are chilled to the bone with soaking wet feet, so this yummy hot dinner, plus a wee nip of rum, are just what the doctor ordered.
As I’m settling into the tent, Grizzly comes over looking very fluxommed. “I just saw a cat…a lion…a mountain lion!” he exclaims half excited and half freaked out. Just earlier today he declared his wish to see a mountain lion – done! We put some rocks and sticks – good for throwing at said lion to scare it away should the need arise -right next to the tent. Eeeps.
There is steam coming off the lake where we are perched, and all the clouds have disappeared. It’s going to be a cold one! Maybe a pretty kitty cat will come keep us warm…
Just as I’m settling down there is the rumble of heavy hooves  in the meadow on the other side of the lake. We rush to poke our heads out and I see two beautiful big bull elk prancing around. The steam from the lake is rising up between us making them look other worldly. I stare for a while the we duck back into the warmth of the tent just as one of them lets out a little elk-y yell. I can’t wait for bugling season to begin!!! I think it is my favourite sound.
The tent is buzzed by a hummingbird flying by. So many animals tonight! Best campsite ever.

CDT Day 95 Happy Birthday from Hugh Jackman

It’s my birthdaaay!
I wake, make coffee and hot oats (hot breakfast! Birthday luxury!) and we hike the 0.9 miles to Colorado! Sadly there isn’t a big border sign, just a sign announcing our entrance into the Rio Grande national forest, which is right at the border. Tigerlily left a note on the sign wishing me a happy birthday and that Colorado is my birthday present! Pretty bloody good present! I’m so excited to check New Mexico off finally!
Another 2.7 miles to Cumbres pass and the road that will lead us to town and food! It takes a long time to get a hitch, finally a nice lady in a rental car takes pity on us and drives us the 20 ish miles to Chama … back down the highway in New Mexico. Doh! Can’t escape this state!
We share a hotel room between 3 of us, which us good because the prices are all sky high thanks to a movie being filmed in the mountains close by with Hugh Jackman in it. The whole town is booked up with crew members – we were lucky to find a place! We collect our packages from the post office, eat a greasy breakfast, and walk the 2 miles down the highway to the hotel. Blergh spread out towns are rotten for hikers!
I have a package from a gorgeous friend Cookie I met on the PCT last year, filled with all kinds of delicious snacks, amazing toiletries and all kinds of useful hiker things! It’s amazing. I take a shower and come out smelling amazing with all the little pots of cleansers, moisturisers, shampoo and conditioner. I’m like an actual human. She also included a razor, so I lose about a pound off my base weight by shaving my legs – my poor legs have been covered in scratches, cuts, rashes and scabs since the start of the trail so I haven’t touched them. Only now have they healed enough to attack them with a skinny piece of metal. So smoooooth. Fancy birthday legs!
I eat a bunch of things that have no business mixing together and pay the price, lying in discomfort on the bed while watching the Olympics. I had no idea they had started! So oblivious to these strange real world happenings!
With all the chores finally done, and somehow the day nearly over, we watch sporty people doing their sports and finally fade away.