Miles: 28

Camp: My CDT mile 2109

I usually wake to the sound of the birds singing with the sunrise, greeting me along with the day. This morning was eerily silent, a thin veil of ash coating our sleeping area. This meant a later start for me, as I had slept in a whole hour! My goal was to go 28 miles today, but the guys were going off trail tonight to meet Judd’s parents. The reason I wasn’t joining them was because I knew it would be too much temptation…and there are still 2 challenging days in this section. The guys are all fast, I’m more slow and steady…my advantage the earlier starts. If I went off trail with them, I would lose my advantage of a head start and spend the day scrambling to keep up. I decided that it just didn’t sound relaxing…plus, the Calvins will be in the next town, so I’ll have another dose of the Calvins yet!

I hiked alone most of the day, though it all seemed a bit off. With fires nearby, the smoke seems to silence the forest. The trees were uniform and stood as still as statues, no sounds echoed through them making everything seem kind of artificial. Funny to feel that way in a natural setting, but even my motions seemed mechanical. It was a bit strange and yet somehow comforting. 

I was lost in thought at one point, wandering on with the trail when I saw a group approaching me through the trees. It didn’t take long to recognize Righton, Titan and Judd coming my way. I immediately knew I went wrong somewhere…but how were they there too? It was confusing until they explained that they’d found a shortcut that led them there…so serendipitous for me! Had I not seen them, who knows how long I would have gone in the wrong direction.

We walked together until I was out of breath and I slowed down. They keep a healthy pace that I can keep up to, but it doesn’t seem sustainable for me over the long run. Sometimes I have to remember that these guys are all more than 10 years my junior (except Uber who we hadn’t seen all day). As much as I like to know I can keep up, I like knowing that I don’t have to all of the time. It will matter more when we get back into grizzly country, but for now I can live in the best of both worlds; hiking alone, but with a group.

We got to the trailhead around 7 where Scott and Whitney were waiting. I had a beer with them before I headed off into the mountains alone. I don’t want to forget how to do it myself any more than I want to be without my friends. I know I’m missing out on a good time, but I am perfectly content in my tent enjoying the wonderful silence of the forest at night. I’ll likely be back with the guys tomorrow if they catch me…how the tables have turned! I will have about a 6 mile advantage tomorrow and we are trying to push to keep making up miles. September is almost here!

I hope for a good night of sleep on my own….it has been a while since I’ve been without the comfort of those guys sleeping just feet away. I’ve done this countless times already and I go to bed satisfied with my accomplishments thus far. We have less than 600 miles to go and I can’t help but be proud of how far I’ve come. 

Dinner: mac and cheese with chicken, bacon and broccoli.