Hiked 20 miles, Camping at Mile 91.8 @ 10059ft
It’s morning already. We successfully pretend we don’t hear the alarm for half an hour. “I could sleep for another 2 hours” I groan. “Me too” says Grizzly. But we can’t. This morning we have to hitch in to Jefferson to collect our little baby box of supplemental food to get us to Breckenridge, and my new frogg toggs.
We pack up in record time and are in Jefferson by 730, just after the store opened. The frogg toggs are made from some strange fabric that is not normal rain gear material, and feels like it could rip in an instant. That’s what you get for 10.4 oz (pants and jacket together!).
We stuff around charging things and trying to get service on the wifi to book a room in Breckenridge. It’s the weekend and everything is booked or impossibly expensive. Gah I hate the Aussie dollar.
Room booked we hitch with a criminologist who visits Australia about 6 times every year advising on policy and as part of university faculty. We fill our water bladders at the campsite, empty our other bladders in the pit toilet and finally at 9am we are off.
The trail is busy today with hikers and bikers. We pass one guy packing up who zooms up the trail and hikes with us for a while. His name is Hashtag and he’s planning to hike a mini calendar triple crown. A calendar triple crown is hiking the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail all in one year. There are 2 uber hikers currently chasing it this year. The mini triple is the Long Trail, the Colorado Trail and the John Muir Trail. I’ve not thought of doing this before, and it sounds freaking amazing. I don’t know if it actually has an official name, but I dub it the mini triple crown because each of these trails spends a chunk of their miles on the big 3.
We’ve a couple of bumps to hike up and over this morning and we make good time, despite having to step to the side of the trail every few minutes for mountain bike riders. “Bike!” we yell. “Thanks” they breathlessly gasp as the pedal uphill past us. “Have a good ride!”
A lovely flat spot by Jefferson Creek is early lunch. We fill up on water as there isn’t any marked on the next climb – 7.3 miles up 1876ft to 11873ft.
As we climb and climb the clouds gather above. The incline is gradual and it would be amazing if all passes were like this but we are hot and sweaty nonetheless. The cloud cover is awesome…just need to cross fingers that they don’t explode above us and we don’t turn into lightning rods at the top of the pass.
Up up up up. Through the trees on the beautiful flat wide path that is meticulously maintained. We break through above treeline, pass some snow patches, with a towering circle of rock on our left that once upon a time would have been a cirque glacier. “I’m sorry glacier” I say as I pass as it’s probably our stupid human overconsumption and planet warming that killed it.
“Rumble rumble!” Say the clouds as we hike “RUMBLE RUMBLE!” Eeps I’m trying to hike fast through the un-aired air. Finally we are at the top and have out run the storm which is now unfurling on the valley below. A beautiful field of wildflowers stretches out around us.
Over the pass and starting down the otherside we see something strange. “Is that a car?” There is a road right at the top. “Bugger we could have driven? We didn’t have to walk?”.
Then something else. “Is that a cooler??”
“Trail magic!” a man yells from a clearing next to the trail. “Help yourselves”. We each grab a beer and sit down to chat. There are 4 people dishing out trail magic at the top. 2 hiked the CT last year so they are paying forward tbe generosity they received. So many awesome points for the location of this trail magic! We cuddle their dogs and chat about their plans to hike the overland track in Tassie next year. We have miles to cover so we hike on. We are actually back on the CDT now! The CDT and CT have joined forces right at this pass. As we start hiking it becomes apparent that I have very low tolerance for beer at altitude. It was a light beer. Holy poo I’m very tipsy.
I stumble down the trail and figure seeing as I can’t really feel my feet, or pain, I may as well go faaast. I zoom for a time, sobering up as we go down the long descent. At the bottom we rest and I lie in the dirt with my feet raised on a log.
A few more miles to go and I put on my audio book. Grizzly pokes me with his hiking pole to get my attention. There is a strange set of buildings and objects below the trail. Sled dogs we realise. Poor dogs are crying out, clearly bored or unhappy. One poor dog is chained to a pole and is circling circling circling. “I’m sorry dogs!” I yell. It’s sad and I put my headphones back in so I don’t hear them crying as I hike.
Another pretty river crossing and we are in a village! A tent village! It’s the weekend, we are near a road and everyone has come to the wilderness. Its a really cool campground that is more forest than road, with babbling streams running through.
We decide to camp just beyond this little makeshift town and find a spot a little ways up the hill. We were planning on a few more miles but both of us are feeling a little weird today. Altitude? I go to blow up my sleeping pad and have to sit down from a weird kind of dizzyness. Altitude is the culprit I decide. I put on Owly (my amazing Owl beanie that is perfectly cozy and comforting), drink a litre of water and feel much better.
Tonight is chana masala night! This is very exciting. Nothing in my food bag is appealing today and chana masala will hit all the spots perfectly.
The last of the light fades over the snow topped mountains beyond our little private meadow. We lie in the tent with full bellies hiding from the bitey flying things listening to the stream babble babble babble nearby telling the world all the stories it heard and saw today.
Goodnight stream! Goodnight meadow! Goodnight Owly!