Miles: 15
Camp: CDT mile 63

No matter how far away they are, a pack of coyotes howling maniacally in the night sounds too close when cowboy camping alone. They were either fighting each other or making a kill because there was some pretty awful sounds. The sound is haunting.

I managed to fall back asleep at some point, waking to the early alarm and the bright moon. The trail was difficult to follow before sunrise because it was cross country and unmarkef, but I moved slowly and managed to not get myself lost.

Hiking at sunrise is definitely a special time of day, I’ll take it over midday miles every time. The trail was gorgeous all morning as well, winding through a couple of cool meadows and by a giant water tank (and a tire for the cows) on a hill.

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I gathered some liters for the next stretch and continued over the next few easy miles. As I came up over a saddle I took some time to look all around me at the view. I really felt like I have already done so much, and yet I still have so far to go. On my way down the other side a bee started harassing me. I took off my hat so it wouldn’t get trapped near my face and it decided to swoop in and sting me right on the chin! I’ve never been stung by a bee before so I guess I was long overdue, but ouch! I put some salve on it and hiked on with a keen eye on all flying insects.

Soon I ran into the rest of the group. They were finishing up a break and we all hiked on together to the next water cache. We talked about our various ailments and plans for town as we walked. I was chatting with Spirit when I heard something rattle. I instinctively shouted, “rattlesnake!” and jumped back a few feet as a 2.5 foot rattlesnake coiled itself up between two bushes. It stayed there quietly waiting for us to pass and I thought it a polite snake. Even it’s initial rattle was a mere shake rather than a full on rattle. A shake hello.

We kept our respectful distance and walked on, climbing through yet another barbed wire fence to the water cache. There are lots of these fences to get over, around or under our here. No snags so far. We all found a patch of shade at the water box and lounged about for a couple of hours eating, laughing and hydrating. Then the same man who gave us cold sodas on day 2 showed up with more cold sodas. Holysmokes! He stuck around longer this time and chatted with great interest with each of us. He is just a sweet guy from Colorado driving around the desert with a cooler of soda for hikers. What a world we live in. It’s nice to be reminded of that.

After the lounge session we hiked on. It was growing hotter so I took a slower pace than the group. It had been a long break with little shade, so my hope was to find more ample shade to hole up in for the rest of the hot part of the day.

After 4 miles of hot, flat desert full of dead animal bones and skulls, I found a nice shade tree and made myself comfy for the long haul. I lay down and closed my eyes, elevating my feet in the tree’s low branches. It was a lovely break.

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Just as I was about to eat something and continue hiking, Rebecca showed up. She is also struggling with blisters and has the same problem with it being worse later in the day. We got to commiserating on that when I started fiddling with one of my most painful blisters. Without being too graphic, I was able to alleviate the pressure a bit more and Rebecca gave me some gauze to cover it.

I ended up being so excited to hike that I forgot to eat. It is kind of shocking when I forget to eat, even when I’m not on trail. It is my favorite activity, besides hiking.

As a result of us being less than par, we walked the wrong way for a stretch. Maybe 1/2 mile? We walked back to trail and Rebecca had to call it quits for the day. I rallied to meet my 15 mile goal even though my stomach was telling me it was time to make up for my forgetfulness.

There was talk of wind tonight, and I saw rain clouds in the distance so I pitched my tent for the first time this trip. As I made dinner the rain clouds moved on and it is a beautiful night. I’ve half a mind to get up and hike for another hour, but the chore of packing up camp with my tent is too much. I have no idea where the rest of the group is, but they aren’t planning to get into town until Sunday, so probably not far. I hope to share a hotel room with a couple of other gals so I just hope they are still taking it kind of easy too. I think resting my feet when they actually feel better is a good strategy. This way I can take advantage of tomorrow to get close to town and have a full day Sunday for chores.

Things are working out great. I’m independent like I want to be on trail, but have my friends when we are in town. It’s really just been pretty perfect, blisters and all.

I love this trail.

Dinner: refried beans with cous cous, kale, chicken, corn and salsa.

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View from the loo
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