CDT Day 88 Cows and Sage Brush

20.8 miles hiked
Despite all noise indicating  the contrary, when I wake the world is still in tact. The craziest lightning storm I have ever been in. I still can’t believe the noise from the thunder. There is no more rain when we wake, and I’m thankfully able to pack up and stay dry.
It’s a steep climb of 2.8 miles, all of which thankfully are beside a stream and in the dappled shade of the trees. The sun is in and out of the clouds, threatening to heat up the world and make it all steamy.
Around a corner and we encounter a couple of cows, who run away from us down the trail, collecting all their friends and making a huge raquet as they run. I try to explain to them that we just want to walk down the path, and if they would kindly move to the side as we walk through that would be fabulous. They appear not to understand and run away shrieking as they go. This makes for a very slow moving 30 minutes, after which they finally head down a different path and into a meadow.
It also makes for very messy hiking as we dodge fresh cow pies on the trail. Yuck.
Not long after the cows and we part company, we come across 3 hikers! I was not expecting to meet anyone at all on the trail around here. They are 3 ladies who have come just for a few nights of hiking and camping, but are cutting it a little short due to getting stuck in the storm as well yesterday.
Now the trail flattens out for a while as it crosses a series of meadows. Still enough incline that I can feel it, but not so much that I want to tear my lungs and quads out.  I’m amazed at how well maintained and signed the trail is here, when we come across a swamp we have to hike through. I manage about 5 minutes of stepping on long grass to keep from getting my feet soaked, but we arrive at a deep creek where there is no choice. “Gah. Stuff it!” I exclaim and slosh on through, feet now soaked. There’s lots of sun so they should dry out, as long as the rain holds off until late afternoon as it did yesterday. It’s time for a break and a yard sale so the tent can dry out. Then up for a couple more miles before we descend over 12 miles.
Down down down. The grass gradually disappears and is replaced by dry pine needles and dirt. The trees become more spread out, and sage brush creeps in. Definitely more desert-like on this side of the climb.
One last filling of water containers for the next 15 miles and we hike on, increasingly aware of the not-so-distant thunder and now thick grey cloud cover.
A flat spot greets us just over a mile past a highway crossing and we grab it. Tent up in record time, mats blown up, bits and pieces arranged in their places and we dive in, beating the rain by about 4 minutes this time. No crazy thunder like yesterday, and no blinding lightning to entertain us.
13 ish miles until we have to jump on the alternate to head to Ghost Ranch where our next resupply is. We should be there late tomorrow or early the next.
I’m loving the early camp time! Plenty of time for food, and for sneaking in a cheeky downloaded TV episode or doco😀

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