CDT Day 17

21.9 miles hiked, camping at 8937ft
It’s 5.8 miles to the water this morning, then the hwy to Reserve is just past that.  I’m determined to make good time so I can get in and out and still make it to Pie Town by the end of tomorrow.
I’m on a mission, marching along, and as per usual miss my turn. GAH. Backtrack, turn off trail, keep going.
Up over a hill, down across a field and to a dirt road that connects up to a water tank. YAY I get there before dehydrating! Except EWWW. The water reminds me of slimer from Ghostbusters, or that green slime from Nickelodeon. Really really blergh. There is a little trough with a lid and I lift it to see if maybe there is fresher, clearer water in there. AAAAH!  There is a bird in there! The heavy lid slams shut and I immediately feel terrible as I hope I didn’t bonk the bird on the head. How did he get in there???
I slowly open the lid again and the bird jumps to the edge. Was he stuck? Was he meant to be there? He is really unsteady on his feet and sits on the edge for a while before flopping of and then fluttering a short distance away. Poor birdy!
I don’t even filter the water, I walk to the hwy and cross fingers and toes I get a fast hitch to town so I don’t have to drink it! Just as I’m closing the gate between the trail / hwy I see a car round the corner. I’m not even at the roadside yet but stick my thumb out just in case as it’s known as a hard hitch. The car pulls over!!! Amazing awesome hitching luck. The awesome Robert has water for me in the car and we chat on the drive (it’s quite a while away). He just finishes saying how he never picks up hitchers when we see someone else on the side of the road who puts out his thumb. Robert pulls over, picks him up and our motley crew drives into Reserve.
Ellas is the place that has been recommended, but it’s the wrong day and they are closed!!! I wander down the road instead and end up at a place that is not my place. I scoff some toast and some potatoes, and try not to look at the wall of death on the side  – photos of trophy hunters with their destruction of beautiful animals on display. I need to be out of here.
At the main store I find a few more things to eat, sign their wall of thru-hiker fame (for which they exchange a 5% discount on my purchases! So cool!) , and perch myself outside on a bench and use their wifi until my phone dies. The important emails have been sent, stress levels decreased slightly, now to high tail it to Pie Town. I empty out the slime water, and refill with something actually drinkable and then amazing hitching luck strikes again! I’m not even on the side of the road when 2 dudes in a rusty old pickup offer a ride. YAY! Anther guy named Robert, the other named Norman. We make a quick stop on the way and pick up Robert’s dog Cowboy (a cute chihuahua) and the four of us ride back to the divide.
I have some sugary pink lemonade sweet tea that I picked up at the store, and bounce along the trail on a sugar high. Another dirt road, another afternoon of podcasts 🙂
There is a long ascent ultimately taking the trail past the Magnus fire tower lookout. I’m excited to see it and the view from the top!
I don’t realise how late it is and when I get there the tower is locked!! There is a little house for the ranger and the car is there, but no one seems to be about. Bugger.
It’s really high up here (9700ft) and wiiiiiiiiiindy so I make the decision to hike as fast as I can to go down as much altitude as I can in the hopes of less wind, more warmth, and better sleep.
The light disappears fast and I find a place that is sheltered-ish just off the winding trail.  I make wishes for no visits from animals during the night, close my eyes and disappear for the night.

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