CDT Day 63 CT Day 4

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!

CDT Day 62 CT Day 3

22.3 miles hiked, highest point 10919ft, mile 71.7 camping at 10033ft
I sleep terribly, waking at 1am and unable to get back to sleep for hours. I’m too hot, then too cold, then I have no idea what the problem is but sleep doesn’t come.
We wake late, but the rest of the campers are all still in camp. Ah, I think, JMT style hiking. I spend too much time looking for a missing sock, that I decide a squirrel must have run off with. It ends up being tucked into the back of my leg sleeve.
8am on the trail and through a large long meadow surrounded by pine trees, reminiscent of the walk out of Kennedy Meadows. It’s sunny and cool and we manage to crank out 3.5 miles in the first hour. Then it all goes sloooowly. We don’t have to hike fast or hard today- we have a box to be picked up in the tiny town of Jefferson which is just 23 miles from camp. We can either hike fast and try and hitch in tonight to get it, or hike as slow as we please to the road, and hitch in early in the morning. We decide to just hike and see what happens.
There isn’t too much climbing today – a long easy climb over many miles, then undulating for the rest of the day. It gets hot all of a sudden, and we are climbing in a place with no air. Not enough air in the air at 11000ft.
We stop at a stream for early lunch, fill up water and drink a lot. We need to make sure we are drinking lots with the altitude, the heat and the climbing. The app isn’t too accurate with the water sources, so we find ourselves panicking about not enough water when there is plenty. Drink a litre, take a litre at every stop.
Another little break by water in the afternoon. I dip my buff, hat and bandana in the cool stream and enjoy the ice cold shock as it hits my skin. My audiobook does a great job at distractinge from the heat and I zone out listening to it as we go up and down, up and down.
One more little climb through the narrow forrested trail and we open to a magificent view of a meadow with snow peaked mountains looming. Mountains! Views! We will be off our tame few days of trail soon and into the tough climbs and altitude of the Rocky Mountains.
It turns out we actually have made good time and will only just miss the store. Bugger!  We race down to the trailhead just in case, but admit defeat at 550pm when we come across…trail magic!!!
Corbin and Harold have been here all day cooking hot dogs for hikers. We eat some bags of chips and add some arnold palmer powder to some water bottles and chat to the other 4 hikers hanging around.
Camping is stealth camping near the campground-we don’t want to pay the fee but need to stay near the road to hitch in the morning.
We set up the tent, boil some water and use the silver dinner packet from a couple of nights ago to heat and cook our ramen, veggie and miso soup creation. “Should we rinse it?” I ask, peering into the bag and seeing remnants from dinners past. “Nah” decides Grizzly. Salty salty goodness.
We dive into the tent, careful not to let in any mosquito hitch hikers.
It’s early so we take our notes then while away time watching videos on tiny screens. Hopefully a good sleep tonight!

CDT Day 61 CT Day 2

Hiked 24.1 miles, Mile 49.4, Camping at 10197ft
I have a broken sleep and wake waaaay too early. I manage to doze til 6am, then get up, squeeze my life back into my pack and powered by a couple of bites of a cliff bar, I’m hiking. We have just 1.6 miles to the fire station where we fill up our water bags amd bottles from the tap on the side of the building, then hike a super speedy 1.4 miles to the trailhead where a luxurious pit toilet awaits.
The trail winds through some very cool boulders, then on through the pine trees and trickling springs. This is the most beautifully maintained trail I have ever seen. Even a fallen pine cone in the middle of the trail looks messy and out of place. Did someone sweep the trail this morning???
Lots of mountain bike riders pass us by, and we pass a few more hikers on the trail. It’s all downhill this morning. We stop for water and 2nd breakfast at a large creek, and are joined by Pacemaker who is friends with Art Gypsy that we met briefly just before Lincoln in Montana. The hiking world is small!
Now we climb. 9.2 miles of up. There are a few places where the trail levels out a bit, but mostly up. We stop at a large stream for water and a rest, and chat to 5 other hikers resting here.  I put my aching feet in the water and can only count to 10 before the water gets stabby cold and I have to take them out. I manage this only 4 times before I dry them off and retreat to the shade, lie on my back and elevate my feet on my pack.
More up, I distract myself with podcasts, music and finally an audiobook I purchased for the long drive from Helena to Denver. Pretty ghost white aspens with bright green leaves that shimmer like sequins crowd the edges of the trail. Large white boulders are dotted about and it feels like the start of the sierra near chicken spring lake. It’s getting altitude-y here too, the climb tops out at 10680ft.
I’ve  0.6 to the top and it’s steep all the way, including one section that is drawn as vertical on my elevation map. Huh?? What does that mean? Will I be rock climbing?
I contemplate this as I stuff a couple more sour patch kids into my mouth – power pellets to get me to the top.
Finally the climb is over and Grizzly with his long speedy legs is waiting patiently at the top. A mere 2 miles to camp and all flat or downhill.
A beautiful lush meadow spread out before me, a mountain in the distance, a creek meandering through the middle. An epic campsite is on the far side of the creek, with a bit of a tent city set up.
“Are you a super hiker too? Like him?” There are a bunch of people crowded around a small fire. Our daily mileage is impressive here. “He goes faster, but I get more points because I have to take more steps.” There’s a father and son who are doing a few sections of the CT each summer, alternating between mountain bike and hiking, until they finish. The son is about 10. There’s a mum and daughter from Denmark who read online that the CT is the most beautiful trail on earth, so they are hiking it. A couple from Denver section hiking for a few days. They finish tomorrow.
Dinner is a delicious mix of ramen, veggies and vegemite. We have too much food and will be picking up even more tomorrow.
Teeth brushed, it’s sleepytime now.

CDT Day 60 CT Day 1 – Hike Time!

25.3 miles hiked
Wake up wake up! It’s Colorado Trail Day!
We’re up and out by 7am, getting a ride to Waterton Canyon, and on the trail just before 8am.
It’s strange having a trail head so close to the city, so close to houses. The trail is a dirt road for the first 6.6 miles, following the Platte river with lots of pavilions and pit toilets dotted along the roadside.
The signs veer us off the road and onto a trail heading up the hill  – the first proper trail of the colorado trail! We wind up the mountain through trees, bees and wildflowers, crossing lots of mini ribbons of creeks. We pass a lot of hikers too – they remind me of the hikers on the JMT. The PCT and JMT share a trail through the Sierra; the JMT hikers always have giant giant packs, brand new gear, and too much food with which they love to weigh down the hungry hungry PCT hikers. Win win 😉
For the first time this year I’m feeling fast! We pass little groups and pairs of hikers. I want to give them pack shakedowns as a lot are not looking happy with their heavy heavy packs. My ego is definitely happy with the CT decision. It’s ridiculous and means absolutely nothing, but I allow my head to swell nonetheless.
Overhead clouds are rumbling and grumbling. This is not good news- I ditched my heavy goretex rain gear (that I was carrying through Glacier) in Denver and my new gear won’t get to me until we get to Jefferson in 3 days time. They start to spit a little and I run faster and faster down the switchbacks to the river. There is a toilet there which means at least a little awning to hide under. It starts raining harder and I run down down until I’m there. Under the awning is the most revolting collection of rubbish I’ve ever seen at a trailhead. There are 3 overflowing garbage bags, another inside the room, as well as things no one ever needs to see smeared on the floor and seat. It’s bucketing down and the awning has just enough room for us to hide for 10 minutes while this cloud explodes.
The rain has done it’s afternoon thing, we gingerly step back onto the trail, cross the river and collect some water – our last for 13 miles.
Climbing up the mountain, the trail spits us out into a burn area. Very exposed. Very hot. Gah I knew I should have taken more water. I start getting worn out from the sun, but keep plodding on and miraculously keep passing people. We pass 17 hikers in total (although one sneaky bugger trotted past as we were making dinner).
Our arbitrarily chosen campsite mile is crappy for camping, so we keep going a little ways and find a spot that will do. We’ve turned into bougie campers and have added a stove to our arsenal, so it’s hot Kathmandu curry for dinner tonight! Nom nom.
After dinner we lie in the tent with the rain fly off, listening to Lord Huron, Mumford, Lumineers, and somehow Warren G, watching the clouds turn into animals and fairies and blobs of nothing as we melt into our sleeping pads.
Just as the last pink and orange light is fading away from the clouds, the yip yip of coyotes starts up not too far away. Oooh I’ve missed them yipping me to sleep! It sounds like a full family outing- so many different voices joining in the chorus.
Goodnight coyotes! Goodnight world!

CDT Days 55 to 59 – The Plan

Grizzly and I will be heading off in the morning to start the Colorado Trail / Continental Divide Trail just outside of Denver, heading south. The CT and CDT intersect roughly from just near Breckinridge until around Silverton in the south of Colorado. The CT then finishes in Durango while the CDT continues SE via Wolf Creek Pass and into New Mexico near Chama (and on to the border).

Right now we are hoping to complete the whole CT, then get a ride to Cuba in New Mexico where I finished when NoBo on the CDT, completing the remaining parts of the CDT in Colorado (getting hitches and rides from amazing people where necessary to connect the trail), then NoBo to Wyoming!

Confused? Yeah, me too.

Here are 2 maps showing the CDT and the CT. Hopefully this helps give you a better picture 😀

20160704_154156
Full CDT trail in Colorado highlighted on left, CT map on right

For more information on the Colorado Trail, check out this webpage.

Colorado Trail
Colorado Trail

I’ve updated some of my gear for the Colorado Trail, which you can take a look here on the lighterpack page. 

Any questions or comments I’d love to hear from you! If you are in Colorado during the next month please be sure to drop me a line!

One more night in a soft bed, then hikety hike hike hike in the morning 🙂

 

CDT Day 53 & 54 – The Moment It All Came Unstuck

“Winds in the east… Mist comin’ in… Like something’s a brewin’, about to begin… Can’t put me finger on what lies in store…But I fear what’s to happen all happened before…”
We have a day off in Lincoln as Grizzly is fighting a sinus infection and needs some rest. There’s not much to do…so I use my time effectively to tsunami instagram and Facebook with photos, and dye my hair bright BRIGHT pink. Because why not?
I eat food from my food bag, laze about, half watch bad movies on the tv. Excitement abounds. I have dinner with Grizzly, Crunchmaster, Coop and Alex, then pack up for an early start. There’s a big climb out, 28 miles without water and a hot day so I want out early!
I barely sleep and it’s morning already. The guys are going to hitch up later, and I jump on the opportunity for a 7am ride up to the pass with Alex & Coop from the owner of the hotel they are staying in. As we climb up the steep 2 miles to the top of the ridge I’m glad I got here early! It’s hoooot!
I’m up on the ridge, exposed, with the sun biting. It’s actually not thaaaat hot, but with no shade and unable to gulp as much water as I want it feels rough. It doesn’t take the guys long to catch up and we find a tiny sliver of shade to hide in. I flick of another tick from my leg. Have I mentioned the ticks? I found one burrowing into my thigh when showering in Lincoln, another crawling up my leg this morning, I’ve flicked off about 3 others in the past couple of days, and now here are some more. I steal some DEET from Grizzly – this sh*t scares me. So many warning labels. I’m pretty sure I’m spraying cancer directly into my blood stream, but right now I’m choosing spray on cancer over Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Cancer vs fever. Over blowdown vs under blowdown. Frozen wet feet vs bushwhack and slippery log to cross river. All the awesome choices out here.
After 14 miles we make it to Flesher pass. We decide the name is creepy and must be the site of some crazy serial killer atrocities. ‘The Flesher!’. Maybe he used too much DEET and burned the flesh off people.
Alex and Coop are sitting in the shade across the road next to the pass. We sit for 5 minutes, which we all know is really going to be 30. We are all blergh. Really blergh. There is magical portal that can take us anywhere we want with the lift of a thumb – a road. Where should we go? I want to go to Harry Potter World. Everyone’s happy in Harry Potter World- how can you not be??  I’m pretty confident I can stitch together hitches to get me there. No one else is keen. Boo.
I sit and contemplate the infinite possibilities of now. Is this my place in the world right now? Of all the places I could be, is this the one? There is a lot more ‘blergh’ than awesome here. A lot more miles of ‘meh’ in between the awesome. Once you’ve committed to a thru-hike, it seems hard to change that decision. There is so much value in pushing yourself through tough things, getting out of your comfort zone, coming out stronger at the end. But sometimes… sometimes life is too short.
Right now I’m not happy.  It turns out, we’re all not happy. Something needs to be shaken up, changed. I’m not ready to stop hiking, but I want to be surrounded by beautiful things, inspiring views, amazing people.
And right now we have a portal. A magical portal.
I’m sick of faffing about, of talking in circles. I stick my thumb out and despite the thin traffic manage to get us a hitch. It’s myself and Grizzly, and after a few minutes of hesitation, Crunchmaster.
All of a sudden we are not on the trail, we are in a world of possibility…
We head to Helena, find a bed, eat food. Sulk. Mull. Marinate. Think.
Think brain, think. Of all the things that can be done in the world at this very moment, what is my thing???
A plan is hatched. A rental car. The Colorado Trail. Then the rest of the CDT. I need beauty and motivation and I think this will do it. A few weeks surrounded by mountains and peaks and trail that is real trail should give me the momentum to keep up with this trail. Or it won’t, but it is the reset I need to give the CDT my best shot.
And if not….
There is always Harry Potter World.

CDT Day 52 – Ridge walk to Lincoln

18.6 miles hiked, ‘camping’ in a hotel in Lincoln ☺
Last one to camp, first one on trail. I’d much prefer it to be the other way around but I have short legs compared to my hiking partners. I should get bonus points for all the extra steps I have to take.
Oof it’s a steep climb out onto the ridge from the lake. I have my podcast on speaker -hiking by myself I want to make the most noise possible. I pass Waitup who is hiking through to Helena and not stopping in Lincoln so we say a half goodbye. It’s always a strange thing with hikers- you never know when the last time you see someone will be.
Today we have 6 big climbs – nothing is flat. We are either going up or straight back down for the 18 miles left to the road from which we’ll hitch to Lincoln.
My pockets are stuffed with my remaining bars so I can eat as I go. I stop for lots of little breath catching breaks, eat bits of bars, take sips of water. I’m up high and have rolling hill views all day, however the trail seems to take the most convoluted route to the hwy possible.
I get phone reception at the top of a hill – the first since leaving East Glacier  – and my phone has its mini-rave buzzing and blipping with all kinds of urgency. Enter the phone vortex.
Thankfully there is a nice stream with beautiful cold water on the descent of one of the hills. It’s a hot one today and I greedily gulp down a litre of water with my favourite raspberry scratch electrolytes – I’d been saving my last packet for today!
2 more climbs and I sing my way down the final switchbacks to catch up to the guys below to grab a hitch. They saw a moose just before the switchbacks started!!! Boo I’m so sad!!!  I desperately want to see a moose. A baby moose would be like Christmas.
We manage a hitch in about 5 minutes and head into Lincoln for showers and beds and all the promised comforts of a town stop.
Laundry is an interesting event in the local trailer park, and it’s quite the task to find something other than fries to eat. 9 days since town and I’ve been dreaming (as always) about epic food, but have to settle for a cheeseless pizza. I’ll get my curry one day dammit! ☺
I’m asleep way too late. I really need an early night but town does that weird thing where I’m so busy doing lots of things but don’t achieve anything. Sigh. Tomorrow is a zero and all the things will be done then ☺

CDT Day 51 – Beary big climbs

25 miles hiked, 276.2 @ 7510ft
I slept with the tent door open to try and reduce condensation, but instead wake up to a face full of frost against the bug net and a world of ice around me. Today is a big day with the beginning of our climbs that we are going to be seeing from now until…well forever.
I’m out before the guys just before 7am so I can enjoy my solo morning without feeling rushed, and they will catch up to me (easily. Long legged speed machines). It’s coooold and I take my shoes off to cross the river instead of going across the log as the log is covered in ice.
The morning warms up and soon I have to take off the extra layers. I stop too many times as my stomach is not happy today. I hope it’s just a passing thing and I haven’t picked up something nasty. I’m hiking along the side of a hill with the river rushing below to my right, winding through trees. A meadow appears in front of me and is the perfect place for brekkie. I find a lovely spot in the grass with wildflowers around me, sit thinking far off thoughts, munch on my granola and watch as a deer trots right near me,  unaware of my presence until the last minute. She stares at me for the longest time.
Granola finished I’m on trail again and enjoying the downhill that will continue for 12 miles today. Another shoes off crossing and I stop at a junction on the other side. I dart off again to take care of business and when I get back my pack is gone. Whaaaat??? Then I hear some terrible ‘animal noises’ from the bushes. Bloody  Grizzly and Crunchmaster have finally caught up and stole my stuff. Rude Buggers.
I leave before them as they take a break, and a couple more miles down the road they catch up as I stop for water. They zoom off and  I switch on my podcasts as I meander through the trees. We’ve agreed on a catchup point just before the big climb starts to eat dinner so we can hike late.
I put a message on facebook before I started the hike for suggestions from my friends in their favourite motivational songs. My playlist is a big mish mash, and it makes me smile to think of my friends as their chosen songs come on ☺
I turn a corner and the guys are unexpectedly sitting at a stream. Turns out this is our last water for 20 miles, so we have to drink up, eat early dinner here, and carry way too much water up the big climb. They’ve just seen a grizzly on the opposite hill, which adds an unexpected nervousness about this section- south of Benchmark ranch we weren’t really expecting to see too much bear activity. Naughty bears.
Dinner is done, music is on and the climb begins. It’s very exposed straight up a hill on a very narrow pathway. Thank goodness the weather is nice – just a little chilly which is good for climbing! Grizzly very quickly turns into a dot far up on the mountain and I turn my speaker up loud – I’m acting under the assumption that bears have very poor taste in music and will be scared of my playlist 😉
Blergh it’s a breath stealing climb. The hills rolls away in waves below – it’s nice to have high up views again!
Finally at the top, we are camping at a lake I can see far below; the trail takes a big wide turn around it. My footsteps going right in front of each other like a sobriety test on the too skinny, too steep gravelly path.
Switchbacking down down down I stop momentarily to put on my R1 hoody as the wind has picked up, and change the playlist to my thru-hike karaoke – I’m in a singing mood! I tone down my singing along to Johnny Cash as I get to the bottom- there are a few tents about that may not be as excited about going to Jackson as Johnny, June and I.
It’s nearly 9pm by the time I get down to the lake, legs shaky from the descent. Tents up, we hang our food bags and all the smelly things from a high branch, and dive into tents to get warm. A looong day. I need to get used to this and instruct my legs to build lots of muscle while I sleep please!

CDT Day 50 – The Fly By Resupply

251.2 @ 6063ft
The rain falls all night long, not very hard, but the pitter patter on the tent is incessant. Perhaps it was soothing and distracting me from the knowledge that I should be a bear’s midnight snack after eating dinner in my tent and keeping my food under my feet. Or maybe that was the advil pm. Either way I slept beautifully. I want to get up early but can’t find a window of dry to do it in.Eventually I give in and somehow manage to pack everything and put on all my rain gear inside the tent.
I’m out of camp before the guys who are still packing up when I leave. The trail is actually nicely maintained, the rain is keeping things cool, and it’s a nice gradual up and down topography that make the morning’s walk beautiful. I’m zoning out listening to Robin Arzon on my podcast and the miles go by fast. Yay!!! I’d forgotten what a satisfying morning hike felt like.
I keep expecting the guys to catch up to me but I’ve covered the 7.something miles to Benchmark Resort and haven’t seen them yet. This is exciting for me. Speedy Mcspeedikins! I sent my next 3 days of food to Benchmark along with the $25 fee and cross fingers my box is there. It’s not actually open so I climb under the fence at the front to get in. My resupply box is in a bear can on the porch of a cabin and I packsplode over the porch to arrange my things and restock my food.
Patience wanders over -she doesn’t hike on Saturdays and is zeroing here with Dupont and Llama. I chat with her and then Llama who appears, then finally Grizzly and Crunchmaster wander in with Alex and Coop following. Dupont is awake now to so it’s a hiker party! So many hikers!
We all chat as Grizzly and Crunchmaster sort out their food, then finally give in to the inevitable, say goodbye to the zeroing crew and hike on. Fastest resupply ever!
It’s freezing as we leave and backtrack a couple of miles to jump on the trail. As we hike on the sun comes out and suddenly I’m roasting and my R1 and jacket are stuffed away. Hot cold hot cold. ‘Tis the way here!
The trail follows along a stream through fairly thick forest for most of the day, then as we join back up with the official trail it thins out and there are large burn zones either side of the trail and river. I look at my topo maps and see in tiny writing that there might be a cabin in a few miles. This means a nice area cleared away, and maybe a pit toilet. Hopefully it wasn’t burnt down when this fire went through.
We take a chance down a side trail and yay there is a cabin!!! The cabins are always locked, but have large porches for us to sit on and usually a toilet. This toilet is locked too. BOOOO! Back to cat hole digging.
It’s a nice early night in preparation for some big climbs tomorrow. We hang our bags and cccccold sets in early; all the layers on tonight!

CDT Day 49 – The Chinese Wall

 23.9 miles hiked. Camping @5062 ft
I wake up super early and ignore my need to use the “loo” for as long as possible. My phone says 528am and a second later the alarm is sounding. Booo I forgot we are getting up early today to try and get some miles in before the forecasted rain hits.
I pack up, stuff my pockets with snacks, put on my R1, rainpants and jacket. My wet shoes are made bearable by my waterproof socks. Yay hopefully dry feet today.
We climb up through some snow patches and have about an hour’s grace before the temperature drops faaast. There is some hail, then the rain starts.
We turn around a bend and have a view of the valley below – the Chinese wall spreads out before us! It’s very cool with a valley of thick green pines in front and the dark storm clouds up above. The trail takes a turn as it descends and we hike along the front of the wall. The sun comes out so we have a break, drink some water, munch on some food, stare at the epic wall above us.
The clouds come back fast as we head up and over another pass. It’s raaaainy but not nearly as cold as the other day. It’s a mudslide hike and I end up hiking more cross country tha  on trail as I keep sliding backwards!
By the time we reach the top the rain has decreased to a very light drizzle, and the sun even comes out on the descent.
It’s a really pretty trail and spirits are high despite the weather. I’ll take the on and off drizzle over the freezing storm any day!
The rest of the day we are following along the side of the sun river. There are some burn sections but it is very pretty looking down from the mountain side to the river and the flat grasslands either side. The clouds and rain are in and out all day and we cross fingers we make it to camp before the next bout of rain. Nothing worse than setting up or packing up camp in the rain.
We cross a really cool bridge and enter a big burn zone. The wind whistles through the burnt trees and makes the most eerie noise – like people screaming far away. Somehow there is a magic clearing in which we set up, with no trees to fall on us during the night. I half think this is just over reacting, but as the wind picks up I hear a large crack as a tree falls down not too far away.
Tonight we are stupid. We eat in our tents as the rain is not stopping. We keep the food in  our tents as there is nowhere to hang it. We haven’t seen any bear tracks or signs… hopefully we will be ok. Of not… well…it will make a good story 😉