23.7 miles hiked, camping at 10935ft
It’s a 530am wake up call today. Thankfully the rain that has been pitter pattering all night has stopped so we can pack up and stay dry. The tent is soaking though so we’ll have to ‘yard sale’ everything at the first patch of light we see.
I hike out on the piney path. This section is lots of rolling hills with a couple of significant climbs. This morning there’s a small up before it winds down around the mountain. Grizzly catches up just before I stop to fill up my water containers from a small stream that crosses the path. Phew. The notes on this water source weren’t too definite so I wasn’t sure if I’d be waterless this morning.
More weaving up and down, always through the forest. There’s still lots of clouds in the sky that are starting to fade away as the sun starts warming things up. I look through the forest and it seems that my eyes are fuzzy or there is mist through the trees. I realise it’s the sun hitting the trees and steam rising off all around them as they heat.
We come to the top of a small climb and we yard sale all our wet things (spread out all over the ground) over the rocky ground as we have discovered a beautiful patch of sun. Yay no wet tent tonight! I make coffee while we wait for the things to dry, Grizzly has phone service so he checks in with the world.
Once we’ve flipped everything and are satisfied there’s no dampness hiding, we stuff the bits and pieces away into their places and hike on.
More forest, more up and down and up and down. I turn to my audiobook for distraction – Thoreau is keeping me company today. Our last water stop before the end of the day arrives and we sit and filter and drink. Two hikers arrive at the stream – other hikers! We were just wondering where all the hikers are! They are the occupants of the tents we saw at Marshall Pass earlier yesterday; they are either super speedy or got up super early. Actually we did have quite a lengthy break to dry our things so maybe that’s an explanation too.
As we sit and drink, clouds are forming overhead. The speed at which storms and clouds appear here in the rocky mountains is absolutely mind boggling. We sat and it was sunny, we leave and we are trying to out run the clouds. It’s a long slow climb up with the sky getting noisier and noisier. We cross a big wide meadow and hike faaaast. No lightning strikes today please. The sky is the colour of a dark plum in front of us, so we stop to put on all our rain gear and my pack cover. Just as we are about to set forth, a massive thunder clap overhead scares the bejesus out of me, so we decide to hide under a tree for a while instead of walking directly into the storm. I pull the tyvek groundsheet out and we pull it over us like a blanket, just as hail starts attacking.
We huddle for a good half hour or so, only emerging once the hail stopped and the rain has settled down. Into the rain we go!
Up and down and up and down, getting wetter, colder, grumpier as the day goes on. We are both exhausted. For no particular reason I can fathom, except the cold might be draining our energy more than we realise. The trail is hard to walk on too- very rocky and slippery. It’s not well maintained in this section so that it is too narrow and our feet are constantly at angles and we are rolling ankles all day.
I decide that my new ultralight rain suit makes me look like I could audition for the next Ghostbusters. Or maybe find a hat and become a smurf. Or cleaning up after a toxic spill. Ultra high fashion out here in thru hiker land.
We turn a corner and the field in front of us is filled with Elk! I try to get closer to see them but my silly ghostbusters pants are too noisy and scares them off. Boo!
Finally for the last mile the rain miraculously stops! We grab water and find a campsite already occupied by a bazillion mosquitoes but we make room for our little tent home.
We eat our dinners and dive in expertly without any mozzie invaders. Early night for early rising again tomorrow. We are shattered and will sleep well. Zzzzzzzz.