Camp: CDT mile 433
Today started out better than expected. I was bracing myself for a bitter cold morning, but it was not bad at all. We have certainly faced harsher mornings out here. It made morning chores even easier, and I was on my way up to the summit by 7.
It was a beautiful climb to the top of Mt. Taylor, easily graded and complete with great scenery. Not only that, my feet didn’t hurt in the least all morning! It was like a dream.
I summited alone and waited to see if anyone would join me…but no one arrived and I got bored, so I began the descent down the other side. There was deep snow everywhere and it made walking pretty slow. When I made it down the first snow slope I looked to the top and saw someone else arriving there…mere minutes after I left. I didn’t recognize them and had no desire to walk back up in the snow, so I continued down through more snow. I postholed a few times, once with both legs all the way to my crotch. I wish someone was there to laugh about it with me, but I am also happy to finally be alone.
The trail then joined a dirt road that descended steeply. It was an effort to keep my pace mellow, but I want my feet to keep feeling good and I’m really in no hurry at the moment.
At my first break I met a hiker named Freebird, but he was out of water and moved on quickly. I walked for miles trying to keep a good pace and avoid stepping on rocks, singing songs as they popped in my head…then the sky began to darken and thunder began to roll. The sound was all around me and it started to hail, wind picking up in every direction. I took out my umbrella and walked on, always with an eye out for a good spot to take lunch during a storm. It was 2:00 before I found a decent shelter, usually the time I’m done eating…so I was pretty hungry and losing steam fast.
I angled my umbrella in the tree above me to reduce the droplets and began eating. Halfway through lunch, it became a full on rain storm, one my umbrella in a tree was definitely not protecting me from. I stopped lunch early and decided to walk on. I wore my rain skirt to help keep my legs dry and carried my umbrella so it would cover me and my pack…which only helped if the wind wasn’t blowing it at an angle. My hands were cold in gloves, so I took turns holding the umbrella or sticking a hand in an armpit to warm it up. The ground turned to thick mud which clung to my shoes and made my feet feel heavy, and thunder rolled the whole time.
I actually kind of enjoyed the rainy walk, though it had really cut lunch short. I was planning a break at the next water source, so I dreamed of what I would eat there (meat sticks and gummy candy). The rain stopped and I really wish you could have seen my whole outfit. I was hoping a car would drive by only to see their reaction…I was wearing my rain skirt which goes all of the way to my ankles, and had my face covered like so:
I think my look was pretty comical this afternoon. When I got to the point on the map where water should have been, I searched all over to no avail. It was supposed to be 600′ from trail, so I walked quite a ways looking (2 redwood trees was my best guess on that length). I came out of the woods back onto trail scratching my head…it wasn’t there as far as I could tell.
Three people were walking ahead of me, so I asked them and they said they hadn’t seen it. Next water was in 10 miles and it was already 4:00. If I went that far it would be a 25 mile day, and I’m specifically trying to avoid those numbers right now. 20 or less to give the body time to get used to this…no 25’s. But, what choice did I have? I could keep looking or keep walking.
I walked with three guys I was just meeting: Homework, Knees and Freebird. I met Freebird earlier in the day, but so briefly this was a better meeting. Homework lives in the same tiny town I lived in in northern California (Blue Lake!!) and my friend there had told me about him before the hike.
It was fun to walk with those guys, always refreshing to meet new people on trail…but after 5 miles, I knew I didn’t want to keep going. It was just too much, and I had only taken 2 breaks today. I was fading quick. Homework and Knees were going to walk to the next water, so they donated a liter to me and that will be enough to get me through tonight and the morning. Thanks so so much you guys! You earned some karma points there…and my feet thank you too.
I set up camp in some trees to block some of the wind all around me, and it is perfect. Some cows are mooing at each other nearby, and I hope they don’t come around while I’m sleeping (what are they saying anyway?). That’ll get my heart going in the night. I’ve just finished dinner and am ready to shut my eyes early…it was a long day, but I loved it. It was a day that tried to challenge me and I succeeded at every turn. I’m happy with how things turned out, and will be glad I saved those miles for morning.
Dinner: mac and cheese with chicken and bacon