Everything goes wrong! Day 109

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.

IMG_20170807_162226.jpg
Lonesome lake

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. IMG_20170807_120022.jpgTexas 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.

IMG_20170807_191820.jpg
The descent from Texas pass was rocky and steep. See if you can find Mudslide
IMG_20170807_192722.jpg
Mudslide contending with the snow
20170807_101557.jpg
Me looking desperately for a spot to camp

 

Advertisements

Water! Lakes! Mountains! Day 108

Today we started to get more and more into the mountains again and enter the Wind River Range. I think that Mudslide and I are basking in the shade of the numerous trees and loving the views of mountains that are beginning to surround us. We’re so excited about the mountains that today we both lost the path and climbed through the trees and along some rock edges before we both realised that the path was below us in the valley. There is nothing worse for a thruhiker than the thought of having to go back so when Mudslide suggested we turn around I was determined to find a way down without having to go back. It required a bit of rock scrambling and a few drops but I finally managed to push my way through some scrub and end up back on the trail again, Mudslide not too far behind me.

20170806_123935-EFFECTS.jpg

Today we had to contend with wet feet again from walking in the snow. Its amazing that a few days ago we were battling to find shade and everywhere was as hot as hell and here we are back in the mountains and back to soaking wet feet!

Today we also had to make the decision about whether to do the Cirque de Towers route which wasn’t really hard to do as its a recommended route by our favourite map maker, Jonathon Ley so after barely a moment’s deliberation we took the alternate. Its supposed to be one of the most beautiful sections of the CDT and other south bound hikers have been telling us we’re in for a real treat.

IMG_20170806_164017.jpg
Its so good to be back in the mountains again!

Our camping spot tonight is right next to a lake which is amazing, endless amounts of water, no rationing and Mudslide has washed his feet! Which was both desperately needed but also desperately cold! I feel a bit bad because I insisted he wash them and now they’re like little ice blocks but also they were pretty gross.

IMG_20170806_184506_1.jpg
View from the campsite tonight

Let’s keep cowboy camping. Day 107

So we finally left the little bubble of Atlantic City and South Pass City. Mudslide and I did our final music downloads and phone charging and got back on the trail. The day started with us heading off in a complete roundabout fashion, following what we thought was a trail out and ended up doing a bit of a circle before we found the trail again. The start of the hike out was through the desert again but slowly this changed and we started seeing more and more trees and were eventually hiking in semi forested area. We wanted to make it a decent way out of town and set ourselves a rather ambitious goal of 15 miles, considering we left after midday. (seems we haven’t learnt our lesson about hiking at the hottest time in the day!)

IMG_20170805_181922.jpg
TREES!

The route was pretty flat and for most of it we were following farm roads which made the walk a bit mindless. We finally entered back into forested areas and had trees for shade which was such a welcome relief from the constant heat in the basin. We kind of thought that Greenbay and Arrow would catch up to us at some point but by the time we decided we wanted to camp, we hadn’t seen anything of them. We’d picked a spot near a river to aim for as our spot for the night but we were having trouble finding anywhere flat enough and not completely exposed. Mudslide was also hoping for a good view of the sunset and tried climbing this little hill to see if we could camp on top of it. I went a bit into the forest to see if I could find a decent spot in the trees and found a wonderful secluded area surrounded by trees. The perfect place to cowboy camp! I was on a high, having set up our groundsheets and got food going and just so happy settling down to camp on a bed of pine needles and only the pine trees for company. Afters ages of dust and heat we were in the perfect spot!

Cowboy camping

Mudslide and I were just getting ready to sleep and we were settling into our sleeping bags when we saw a headlight coming along the path. It must be Greenbay and Arrow hiking into the night. The head lamp stopped not too far ahead of where we were and we figured they must be looking for a place to camp and having the same difficulties were had, finding somewhere flat. We heard voices talking and then one of the headlamps started approaching where we were camped. In the dark stillness I started making ghost noises as a bit of a joke but I ended up giving Greenbay such a fright that I felt a little bad. I called out and told her it was only us and that we were camped here. They headed off a little further down the trail to find their own spot.

South Pass City. Day 106

After a tough day, hiking a total of 4 miles we made it from Atlantic City to South Pass City. This place is so hiker friendly, we were welcomed and allowed into the historic museum section without having to pay and were given access to free WiFi and a place to charge our phones. This might not sound like a lot but this place probably has a total of 20 buildings and no amenities at all. Mudslide and I entered the historic old town and had a bit of a look around before I went to collect my resupply box. I must admit I’m getting pretty sick of oats for breakfast, especially since most mornings they get eaten cold. Whats worse then a bowl of oatmeal with no sugar or milk? A cold bowl of oatmeal with no sugar and milk! I donated a lot of oats and rice to the hiker box, perhaps someone else isn’t sick of oats yet! Mudslide and I sat in the shade of the old jail and sorted through our boxes and tried to make the decision as to whether we stayed the night or hiked out for a few miles. I was all about staying for the night as hikers are allowed to camp for free near the river. In the end Mudslide was still charging his phone and downloading music on Spotify so we got to hang out. We also were too tired to really spend any time looking around so we decided to do it tomorrow. Greenbay and Arrow, a newly married couple hiking the CDT together arrived and the 4 of us camped near each other. Good old rice and beans for dinner. Yum… Definitely day dreaming about Miners Grubstake.

Atlantic City!!! Day 105

Last night we arrived in Altantic City and ran straight into the Ravens and Catwater. Burning Calves is now off the trail as she had to get back to work in Germany. We ran into her on our second day out of Rawlins on the farm road she was hitching on to get back into town. We chatted for a bit and then she started the walk towards town in case no one picked her up. We found out later that she was picked up by a cowboy and his girlfriend who also had to get into Rawlins and she camped the night with them and they dropped her off at the bus station the next day. Perfect!

Altantic City was fantastic. We spent most of our time at the little bar The Miners Grubstake, and the owners said they usually have a huge teepee set up for hikers but it was blown over last winter in the massive storms that Wyoming experienced. However, they said we were welcome to camp out front that night and in the morning the BnB down the road sold showers and laundry to hikers. We stayed up pretty late (hiker late, not real late) chatting to the owners and having a few beers, we were pleasantly surprised at their amazing beer selection! We ended up putting our tents up slightly drunk and in the dark. They told us they’d be back in the morning around 7 and open for coffee around 8. Perfect!

The next morning we had the most incredible, huge breakfast, endless cups of coffee and great chats with the owners again before we went off to have a shower at Wild Bill’s Guns- Yes, that’s the name of the BnB that also stocks hunting and camping gear! What a place and what a great owner! After the most expensive shower and laundry we’d ever done and after at least 2 glasses of ice cold home made lemonade we headed off to South Pass City where I had a resupply box waiting for me.

The Basin. Day ENDLESS!

I’m gonna post the next few days together because the basin did just seem to stretch on for ages and ages. Burning Claves and the Ravens with Catwater are all just in front of us, perhaps 5 miles and occasionally we meet up at water sources or we see them just ahead of us on the horizon. It feels like we can see forever on the horizon because everything is so flat out here. Every time we come over a rise, all we see before us is endless flat road.

We’ve had to put up the tent ground sheet to make ourselves shade in the afternoons and we wake up at 5am to get going by 6 to beat the heat. Usually we manage about 10 miles by about 10 or 11 and then we rest for a few hours to avoid walking in the midday heat. We start up again around 2:30 and get about 25 miles in total before our feet can no longer take the pressure. These roads are torture on the feet and my soles are killing me.

One particular day, we’d walked 22 miles and had come to a water source at around 5pm. It was too early to stop but our decision was do we continue another 6 miles to the next water or do we do less miles and carry more water. In the end I decided we should do the 6 miles. 6 miles in 2.5 hours didn’t sound too bad. If it had been slightly more, even 6.2 miles, we probably would’ve carried water and stopped earlier. The next water was supposed to be incredible fresh spring water which also made it appealing. To the honest, most of the water we’d had was pretty amazing, coming from springs under ground.

After the 6 miles I was finished. I was slightly ahead of Mudslide and looking around for the water source, which was slightly off trail, in God knows which direction. Mudslide caught up to me while I was looking and found it before I did, using common sense which I think at this stage had eluded me. The water was pristine and literally bubbling up from the ground. It also tasted amazing, perhaps the best water we’ve had so far. I was all for dropping my pack and camping right there, my feet could go any further. The soles of my feet are blistered and everything aches. Once again Mudslide’s common sense prevailed and he suggested that camping on soggy, cow trodden ground was probably not our best option and was truly my hero in that moment because he picked up both our packs and carried them to flat ground on the other side of the road. The campsite he picked was probably 100m away from the water but it felt like the most painful 100m.

We cowboy camped most nights in the basin. That’s were you don’t put up a tent but rather sleep under the stars. It makes sense out there, its so hot and the tent gets pretty cramped and cowboy camping means we have plenty of space and can watch the stars at night. It also means less to pack up in the morning. After what felt like forever, we arrived hot and dusty in Atlantic City, WY. Nothing like its gambling counterpart but what a little haven! We almost didn’t end up there and only went because Party Saver had a package waiting there.

20170801_061608.jpg
Cowboy camping, plenty of space!
20170801_104044.jpg
Someone left Bocce ball at one of the water sources!

IMG_20170801_202557.jpg

IMG_20170802_193507.jpg
Long flat roads, punctuated by wild horses!

IMG_20170802_193550.jpg

IMG_20170803_121501.jpg
A river, trees! Things we hadn’t seen in 3 whole days! Its amazing how much you can miss seeing trees in the desert!
20170803_152455.jpg
The desert is a tough place to survive!
IMG_20170803_172438.jpg
Civilisation: food and running water!

 

Into the desert we go. Day 100

Sure, lets start hiking early, we have to hike in the desert, we should get going as soon as possible. So naturally we start hiking at midday and even before we leave the town perimeter we realise what a stupid mistake as in the distance we see no trees, no shade and miles and miles of heat. Some people take the road in this section because there is no proper trail and the CDT pretty much just goes through some ranch land parallel to the road, however, the road is so busy and the shoulder so small that Mudslide and I decide to walk the slightly longer route and stay off the roads.

We’re struggling. The heat is dreadful. We’re just talking about where we’re gonna take a break and discuss what options there could be for shade when we see some trees up ahead. It doesn’t matter if the trees are on the trail or not, its a detour worth taking. For once though, the trail goes the sensible way and we pass the trees. Even under the dismal shade of the trees, the heat penetrates.IMG_20170731_061554.jpg

The final stretch that we aim to do for the day follows the road for a bit. We want to finish this road section and get back on the trail before we stop for the night. The road is a nightmare, with cars and trucks zooming passed as at crazy speeds and we’re both relieved when we turn onto a dirt track. Its getting dark and we’re not very far from the road but we’re gonna stop anyway because we’re exhausted.

Rawlins! Day 98 and 99

Today we got into town and booked ourselves into the Econolodge where we were able to secure the hugest most wonderful king size bed! What luxury. We met up with Burning Calves, Catwater and the Raven family and decided to spend a zero day in town. We’re not looking forward to heading out into the desert for the next hundred miles.

Rawlins does have one advantage, it has an all you can eat Thai buffet that Mudslide and I were keen to get to! Its also a fairly decent sized town so I was hoping to get a new hiking shirt as mine is starting to fall apart! I love the Merino Wool stuff but it just doesn’t last that long. I dragged Mudslide through almost all the clothing shops in Rawlins but just couldn’t find anything lightweight and breathable. He thinks I should keep my current shirt, at least until we’re out of the desert. Eventually I decide he’s right and I continue on with my ripped, extremely breathable t shirt.

IMG-20170729-WA0003.jpg

Day96

Last night we had some crazy rainfall! My pack was wet and under the sleeping mats were drenched. We had a late start because its never fun to get up when everything is wet.20170726_073317.jpg

When we got out of the tent we were surrounded by pronghorn antelope and battled packing away the tent while also drinking coffee and enjoying the view.

Today we split ways with Burning Calves as she’s taking the road into Rawlins while Mudslide and I want to walk the trail. She should arrive a day before us as the road is a lot shorter.

Trail was just forest service roads mostly, it was very easy trail but a bit boring some times with none of the crazy mountains in Colorado.

IMG_20170726_115933.jpg

Mudslide has never read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy so we listened to that for some of the day which helped the time pass. We were warned that this section would have a lot of saline water and many of the water sources would not be drinkable so we had to be careful with where we collected water. The last clean water source was a river we’d come to but as we approached, there were signs up saying that there was a chemical treatment of the water and it wasn’t safe to drink. Thankfully the Fish and Game service had left a lot of bottled water near the river for us and we stocked up on that.

Today we managed 24 miles and just camped next to a road, our feet had had enough!