Miles: 20
Camp : CDT mile 413.3

I woke up ready to hike when the alarm signaled 6am. I had enough of town, and was pumped that we were going to climb a mountain today! Over 400 miles without a mountain to climb, we were due to get up and see all that is around us. It made our moods excited this morning and my blisters were drying out nicely, new insoles ready to party on the CDT.

First order of business was to walk a little over a mile to a small cafe. There we ate breakfast sandwiches and had good espresso (it sure beat breakfast at Dennys yesterday!). Then it was just over a mile up the road to a ranger station where we needed to get water. There would be no more water until we reached a spring 2 miles from the summit…about 17 miles. This isn’t terrible, but I wanted to be extra sure to stay hydrated after being sick and we had 4,000 ft of elevation to gain with full resupply on our backs. 3 liters adds 6.6 lbs of weight and boy did my hips notice.

It was down to Polar Bear and I, 2 sheep that broke free from the flock. We left separately from the cafe, both happy to revel in solitude today. The hike started with paved road for 6 miles, so I listened to some podcasts to speed up time. My feet are a bit achy, but so much better than they had been 2 days ago. I felt good.

I got to the trailhead for Mt. Taylor and took a break. I wanted to give my feet a chance to forget about the paved hell I had to put them through…so I ate sour watermelon candies and combos (I resupplied at Walmart so it was slim pickins on healthy food…and no Via. Dang it Walmart!) Then I was on trail. Sweet, sweet trail…my happy place.

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I climbed up and up feeling pretty strong today. We have been 400 miles now and our bodies are getting in thru hiker shape, making today’s climb fairly easy…if it weren’t for the kitchen on my back. My food is out of hand again, but that’s kinda fun. I eat whenever I want, and I can finally eat all the candy because my metabolism is high. This round I have gummy bears, sour watermelons, Swedish fish, peanut and regular m&m’s and some energy jelly beans. That’s more sweets than I’ve eaten in the 2 years since I did the PCT, and yes, I floss twice daily.

As the day wore on in a pleasant fashion, I began to notice dark clouds. We had planned to sleep on the summit (11301 ft), but I began to think it might be best to save the summit for morning. At the very least I had to make it to the spring, so I figured I would decide from there. While I was scanning the spring area for possible camping it began to snow! I was thrilled by it, spinning in circles and laughing as Boomerang filtered water nearby. He still planned to summit, but I was set on setting up camp as soon as possible, even though the snow was short lived.

I set off up the wrong trail for about a half mile before I realized it. Studying maps I saw I could bushwack up the canyon and meet the trail on the other side. As I breached the hillside I came to a beautiful clearing and a perfect tree shelter. I set up my tent inside the cove made by two big pinyon pines and began on dinner as Polar Bear came walking up. There was just enough room for her to squeeze her tent into the trees with mine.

Just as dinner finished cooking someone else was approaching…it was my friend Dennis from Yosemite! If you followed my PCT blog, he was the one I stayed with in Yosemite when I hiked through. We were coworkers in 2001…and have stayed in touch periodically. He knew I was around so had hiked a beer up the mountain for me! What a guy! (I didn’t actually have the beer, but that is beside the point).

After Dennis left it got real cold real fast. I ate quickly and jumped into my sleeping bag. We are at 10250 ft and will summit in the morning. Now I’m going to curl up and listen to the distant thunder, so happy.

Dinner: beef burritos with avocado this time

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Looking back on Grants
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Trail!

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Aspen!
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View from camp
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My tent before Polar Bear showed up
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View from the loo
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