CDT Day 80 CT Day 21

22 miles hiked, Camping @ 12818ft
Oooh it’s been a long night of 8 bodies tossing and turning. Everyone else is up so I finally give in and take off the sleeping bag, and run straight to the stove to make coffee. We are having a super bougie backpackers pantry oats & quinoa brekkie today too! Mmm hot food.
It’s a beautiful morning as we head up the mountain and the long switchbacks to the highest point on the CT! I chat to some marmots and deer along the way and look at beautiful views below. The climb isn’t too lung busting and I’m there before I know it. 13258ft! We don’t linger long as clouds are building, and we make it about halfway down the other steep side before having to put on rain gear.
We have a food break at the water stop, where 5 of us have traffic jammed, then onwards and upwards along the side of a mountain. There aren’t any trees up here (above treeline) and I love the way that makes the contours of the montains and valleys stand out. So dramatic with the varioud shades of green grass and bushes, the purple and white rocks jutting out. Grizzly spies a moose down eating the willow below! Then another! And another! One is huge! He’s pretty far away but the size of his antlers is stunning. Continuing up the climb I look up to the top of a ridge and see a deer perfectly silhouetted against the stormy clouds. Gah I wish I had a decent camera with me! Some things are just for my memories only.
There are so many climbs today. Up and over abother little saddle and the new world ahead on the other side looks like lots of orcas lying on top of the mountains. Little patches of snow curve around the tops making bodies, with melted circles that form eyes. I imagine whale songs as I hike. Or maybe I hear them as the air is thin and I’m a bit spaced out!
So many climbs. So many beautiful little worlds at each one that so few people get to see. I’m up in the actual ridge of the continental divide. It’s wonderfully quiet up here, the kind of place I imagine smarter people than I thinking the world’s greatest thoughts, writing books, penning songs. My mind wanders around in its little altitude daze and doesn’t land on anything in particular, other than to stop me every now and then just to stare and soak it in.
It’s beautiful but exhausting. Definitely one of my hardest days, whether from lack of sleep, altitude, the actual hard climbs or something else I don’t know but I am so ready for camp. My phone dies so I’m not sure how far I have to go. I think I’m on the last climb  – the campsite is supposed to be halfway up but when I’m nearly at the top it’s not there. “F*CK!” I yell at the world. I’m at that 2 year old tartrum-tired point and feel like crying, except I’m too tired to do that and the marmots have no extra tissues..I asked them. “Any spare food?” Nup. None of that either. Soooo sleeeepy.
Finally hooray! I’m at the top! And there is the little lake. And there is the little tent already set up. And there is the most beautiful view I’ve had at a campsite. I got it wrong and it was always at the top, not the middle. So high! So much altitude!
We are both shattered and starving. We boil water to share a backpacker’s pantry dinner, and while we wait the preposterously long time for it to rehydrate here at altitude, we make more water and eat some miso and some ramen. 3 dinners!!! Good thing we have town tomorrow and more food coming…we decide eating now is much better and we can stretch out what we have for tomorrow. Eating now and screwing ourselves out of calories later on is always the best choice…
Oh happy tummy! We lie in the tent and listen to Harry Potter on audiobook before fading away, with orcas swimming in the mountains around us. Oh sleep! Oh beautiful day!

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