Miles: 10
Camp: CDT mile 673.6
Elevation at camp: 11400 ft

Before it was time to get up I woke to the smell of pine needles. We had miraculously found ground without snow on it last night and set up camp on a thick bed of pine needles. It was delightful. I also noticed that my lips felt kind of funny. Turns out they were swollen, like the botox fairy came to see me in my sleep. I had chapstick on all day yesterday, but it was without SPF, so I must have gotten too much sun. I made a point to put on sunscreen and better chapstick today, hopefully it helps.

We started the day with a steady climb up a mountain. The sun was bathing the surrounding peaks in a soft pink light, starting the day out beautifully. We had to walk across a steep, snowy traverse that we were more than thankful was frozen in the morning hours…I even took out my ice axe for the first time.

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We were soon to find out that the first traverse of the day was merely a warmup. When we got to the top of the first climb we could see a much more intense traverse on the menu. The trail led up a steep mountainside and then crossed the snowy slope. It was a little scary, but I walked with cautious confidence and made my way to a ridge with amazing views. I cannot find any words besides, “wow,” “holysmokes,” and a few I will keep off the blog…but you get the idea.

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Walking down from the ridge was a bit slick. We dug our microspikes into the mountain sude and had a steep descent in wet snow. The day was already growing hot and the snow was softening in places. I tried to remember everything I’d learned about using an ice axe and it came in handy. At one point, my down slope foot slipped and I felt myself buckle. In the same instance, my ice axe bit into the snow and held on tight. I realized my whole weight was on the axe and I was safe. I self arrested for the first time ever and adrenaline coursed through my veins. I hung onto the axe and got my footing, then had to use a trekking pole to free the axe from the snow above me. I felt amazing as adrenaline took over my body, and I humbly took a moment to realize the very real danger of not self arresting. I will be more alert.

I made my way after the guys as they were breaking trail up the next mountain. Elevation was gaining quick and at over 12000 feet I had to stop and catch my breath a few times (probably more than a few). It was exhausting climbing up the snow on a steep slope, always clutching my ice axe in my uphill hand, ready for anything. I fell a couple of times, but never badly…and I was rewarded with breathtaking scenery.

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ABC, Snapshot and Handstand at the top

The rest of the day was more beautiful scenery, tons of steep traverses, another self arrest and glissading! We got to slide down 2 big slopes on our butts and it was so much fun (Handstand took video which I will link to when it is up)! This came with more adrenaline! I floated through most of today, but it was super challenging. I am very tired, a bit sore and not quite all dried out. We set up camp just before a huge storm rolled in over us…it is currently pouring cats and dogs outside my tent, thunder and lightning all around. I have a feeling it will be a very cold morning as we prep for another big climb and lots more traversing.

After all is said and done for the day, I can say this has been my favorite day so far. It was really hard, but oh so rewarding. I loved every minute of it and can’t wait to keep hiking tomorrow. This trail only gets better.

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Squirrel
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Handstand

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Glissading!
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We slid down the second chute from the right
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Walking on the moon

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Speedstick
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Camp
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