Location- Reynolds Creek
Elevation- 4,646 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 15.2 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 42.7 miles
Weather/Temp- 60s 70s partly cloudy
Pain level- none
Wildlife encounters- Female Moose
Days without shower- 1
We slept in later than we planned, and after a lack luster breakfast at a little National Park restaurant, we hit the trail around 10:30 am. Restaurants in National Parks are notorious for having extremely fancy names for the foods they serve, with equally fancy prices. Unfortunately, it’s more of a rule than an exception for that food to be a major disappointment. The disappointed quality of the food did not disappoint!
As the trail began to climb up to Piegan Pass, the snow pack became constant. For a good chunk of the day we had no trail, just snow pack and a few footprints to follow here and there. The views were once again world class. I don’t need to describe them, because I’m providing pictures.
Quite a few times we found ourselves having to trail blaze through the snow; finding our own way to where we knew the trail would pick back up. As a result, I acquired a decent amount of scrapes and cuts on my legs while brushing though and past many an alpine tree/shrub.
My legs were heavy again, but not as heavy as the first day; even with all the extra obstacles. After some mesmerizing views, and nearly another 3,000 feet of climbing; I reached the top of the pass at close to 3:30 pm. I only had about 5 miles of downhill to reach our specified camping spot.
The descent from Piegan Pass was much harder than the climb, in my opinion. Close to four miles of it was nothing but snow pack. To make things more disorienting, it was all within thick alpine forest. Everything looked exactly the same, and if not for our GPSs’, as well as a few earlier footprints… finding our way down would have been a real task. It took us HOURS of post holing, slipping, and sliding to reach the final mile to camp, which was snow free.
Physically, this day was more challenging than any day on the PCT. My ankles and calves are exhausted from slogging through the snow. At one point my right leg crashed though an ice bridge into a stream, soaking my shoe and leg nearly up to my knee in freezing water. My shoes were already wet and freezing from all the post holing, but this took it to a new level.
This was an incredible day. It felt like we had a little bit of everything. We had some AT and PCT type terrain and views; giving us the best of both worlds. Rumor had it the CDT was a mixture of both the AT and PCT; so far, that couldn’t be more true…except the CDT feels more wild. My mental endurance was tested today, and I liked it. I have to admit that the endless snow packs were wearing on me towards the end. I’ll chalk it up to not having my “trail legs” yet.
Despite all the snow and treachery… I did not break out the microspikes. Tomorrow we have another 15 mile day, but the terrain looks easy on the map. Looks can be deceiving, so we’ll see what tomorrow is really like.