Today we had a perfect start to a beautiful day. We woke up next to the lake this morning took our time leaving. There were a few thoughts of taking a zero to enjoy the lake but then the mosquitoes arrived and that put rest to that idea!
While Mudslide and I mostly hike together, we hike at different paces over different terrain so sometimes I’m up ahead and sometimes he’s up ahead. To make sure we go the same route we discuss either in the morning or the night before which way we’ll go and usually where we’ll stop and wait for the other person. As we are following the alternate we have two sets of maps, the GPS maps by Guthooks and Ley’s maps which Mudslide has on his phone and I have paper copies. Usually on the alternates Ley has better information and his routes are usually more scenic and more importantly, more accurate. This morning we realised there were two possible routes that met up at Big Sandy Lake. This morning we were going to follow Guthook’s route because I didn’t have the GPS coordinates for Ley’s route and that worried me a little. I’m ahead at this point and guess what, I go and take the Ley route without realising it until I’m almost half way to Big Sandy Lake! Suddenly I was worried because Mudslide would take the planned route, which was shorter and get to the lake before me. He’d be expecting me to be in front so he’d keep hiking looking out for me before he stopped for lunch. Meanwhile, I’d be behind him!
I hurried along the trail, which wasn’t really hard to do, it was following a river downhill and wasn’t particularly challenging terrain. It was actually some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen on the CDT.
I got to the edge of Big Sandy Lake and saw Mudslide’s footprints in the sand. He was ahead so I raced onwards and finally caught up to him just before we started the climb over the 2 passes we had to face today. He had no idea I was behind him and would’ve happily continued hiking til he found me!
So yes, today we climbed two passes and boy, do I have a lot to post. This is been an extremely eventful day. We’re pretty close to a trailhead in the the Winds so we’re seeing a lot of day hikers and also a lot of climbers along the route. This made me feel much more relaxed about the passes, if regular people come do this sort of thing as a day hike then us as thruhikers should find it easy! I can see why so many day hikers come out here. Its incredibly beautiful with lakes in all the valleys surrounded by big jagged mountains.
Jackass pass, the first of our 2 passes, was a breeze. We passed many day hikers (most of whom didn’t even have maps… c’mon guys!) and I reached the summit fairly quickly. Mudslide was behind me because he needed to stop and dig a hole, not an easy task with so many people on the trail! I was in the zone and so I continued hiking onwards towards Lonesome Lake and Texas pass. I was hoping to get to the top of Texas pass and wait for Mudslide there, knowing that the rest of the day would be downhill. The walk down to Lonesome Lake was stunning and few day hikers had made it that far so I pretty much had the view to myself. Texas pass was on the other side of the lake and when I got there, I completely lost the path. I don’t even think there is a proper path going up there. So up I headed. I just looked for the route with the least resistance that went upwards to walked. The pass is a mile long with an elevation gain of 1300ft (1.6km and 400m). That’s steep! I got to the top grateful and drenched in sweat! Not wanting to completely freeze I put on my raincoat to keep the wind off me and sat down to wait. 20 minutes pass and I put on my down jacket and rain pants and sit back down to wait. 20 minutes more pass. He can’t be that far behind me. He’s also a lot faster than I am uphill so he should’ve caught up to me. I walk over the top of the pass and as its covered in snow I look for his foot prints. Nothing. So he hasn’t passed me at some point. I check the map and make sure I’m in the right spot and that I haven’t somehow gone up the wrong pass. Nope. Right where I should be. I’m starting to worry now. Its been too long and a storm is approaching and its going to be dark soon. What do I do? Mudslide is carrying the tent today so I have no shelter with me at all. If something has happened to him I’m the one that would know and I’m the one that would have to go for help. This is a longer alternate, there are a lot of thruhikers skipping this section so I can’t even ask someone who might be coming through, who knows when the next person will come through. Its now been an hour. I decide that I have to go back down (a prospect I did not want to face) and look for him. If he’s injured at least I can get the tent up and then go for help in the morning. If he’s not, its better to be doing something than sitting in the cold waiting. I shoulder my pack and start walking downwards when over the rise this backcountry ninja cap appears followed by the rest of Mudslide. I sit down and cry with relief. He’s fine!!
Turns out he walked the other way around the lake, following Ley’s route and ended up in a massive boulder field and it took him so long to climb around and negotiate all the rocks, some of which were the size of buses. We were both exhausted and all we wanted to do was get down and find somewhere to camp for the night.