Miles: 18.8
Camp: CDT mile 48

Waking up early is a little easier when you aren’t really sleeping. The full moon and my snoring campmates kept me from a good nights rest, but I felt pretty good nonetheless. When I did catch some z’s off and on, I had a dream that my teeth were sunburned, an indication of how hot the day was. It was all my brain thought about even as I slept.

I made my coffee and oats and had my pack ready to go by 5:20. It was so great walking by the light of the moon and under the stars. I remembered how much more I enjoy hiking in the morning, when I’m at my freshest.

When the sun came up over the mountains to the east, everything looked so beautiful I had to keep stopping to admire the great light and views…I feel so blessed to be there to see it.

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It is so much easier to walk when the ground isn’t 1000 degrees, which is the main reason we hike before sunrise. That habit goes away in the mountains when it is also a heck of a lot colder in the wee hours.

A few of us planned to take a side trip to a ghost town called Old Hachita, but before that detour we had to find an old electrically pumped well and get more water. It was a cool wooden structure set next to a pond. When you flip a switch water comes out an old pipe and you are good to go. There were trees around the pond, and even an egret who lingered on the opposite shore from us. It was quite an oasis in this desert…especially when you ignore the unending supply of cow shit laying about everywhere (literally everywhere as ranchers lease the land for their cattle…or own it and are nice enough to let us pass through). Though the water is from a deep underground well, I filtered mine for good measure.

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After a water and snack break I headed to Old Hachita with Rampage, Spirit and Rebecca. It was easier to find than we had anticipated and was worth the extra steps. It was an old mining town that we know nothing about. Well, we know one thing and it is that they did a LOT of mining. There were mine shafts all over the place, most blocked off by barbed wire. Other than that, the old town was pretty run down.

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We explored a little and then enjoyed lunch under a nice tree before hiking on…and it was only noon! By this time yesterday we had barely covered half of the miles we had done today and it felt great.
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After leaving the town it grew unbearably hot in the desert. The air didn’t even move in a whisper and the sun shone down on us and everything mercilessly. My feet swelled in my shoes and new blisters formed. I’ve been really good about blister care this trail, but it was so stupid hot that I waited to treat this last round because I couldn’t bear stopping without shade to work with. There is just so little shade to be found out here, and without a breeze it is just stifling.

I eventually found a solitary Juniper tree and fell into its soft branches, closing my eyes. It was nice in the tree, it smelled of Juniper as I lay in the shady branches. I felt as if the tree was holding me there as a very gentle breeze cooled my skin. I thought about how I made every effort to wake up early to avoid walking in the heat of day…and yet, I walked right across a desert floor at high noon. I was mad at myself for not slowing down, but I took a deep breath and regained my composure. “I can slow down now,” I told myself.

With that attitude I finished the day on my terms. I hiked a few more miles seeing my friends at a water cache and then hiking out an hour after they left (it was still so hot!) I chose camp within a mile of the group, but stopped simply because I wanted to. As far as timing, I’m right on schedule and in no hurry. The miles will be there tomorrow. Time to cowboy camp alone for the first time and get up early to face a new day…and I am happy. Truly, wonderfully happy.

I love this trail already.

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View from the loo

Dinner: mashed potatoes with broccoli, chicken and salsa.

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