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.