Location- side of trail
Elevation- 8,097 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 22.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 743.5 miles
Weather/Temp- 50s, 40s
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- Elk, sheepdog
Human Beings encountered on trail- 5
Thru hikers encountered on trail- 5 nobo
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 1
I managed to catch a shuttle with one other hiker at 8:30 this morning. Since almost every hiker I meet out here is going north, I just assumed he was a NOBO (Northbound). They outnumber the southbounders 5 to 1(possibly more, approx).
So when we got dropped off on trail at about 9am, I was surprised to see this other hiker begin heading south like me. In fact, we were both surprised. Neither of us has met that many SOBO’s on our hike so far. The other hiker’s name was Continental Drifter. He looked to be in his late thirties, and his voice sounded like that of someone in their early twenties; however he’s 50 years old and completing his triple crown like me. He’s also a Geological Engineer from California, and was born in the same city as me.
Come to find out, we have both been shooting for 30 mile or better days, however he doesn’t take nearly as many zeros as I do (mainly to keep up with my blog). CD (Continental Drifter) hadn’t found anyone to hike with who could match his pace, but had been on the lookout. When I told him I was aiming for similar miles, he suggested teaming up. I was all for it.
So we hiked around each other for the majority of the day, setting an end goal of 32 miles. The terrain was again steep and severe with lots of overgrowth. CD was surprisingly a much faster hiker than me. He flew up the inclines as fast as he could, leaving me in the dust. I mayyybee could have matched his speed, but I had no reason or desire to. Also, I didn’t want to seem like I was competing, and I prefer a more steady pace up the steeper inclines anyways. It usually takes a special mood for me to dig into a steep climb with everything I have. Regardless, 10 points to the old guys putting us young’ns to shame!
The day was mostly uneventful. It stayed windy, cold and overcast. At one point, I made a wrong turn and ended up going down a different trail for more than a mile before catching my mistake. The frustration was strong, because I’d gone all down hill and then had to back track all the way up again. There was 45 minutes of hiking wasted. Just another day on the CDT…
A couple miles after fixing my mistake, the thunder began to roll non stop. The next ridge I was slated to climb was shrouded in low clouds and lightning flashes. I kept heading up towards it in hopes that it would clear out. It didn’t.
Perhaps a half mile from the clouded ridge, I ran into CD hunkered down in a small pine grove. There was thunder and lightning and rain on all sides of us. He suggested cutting our losses and calling it a day. There was no point putting ourselves on that shrouded ridge when we didn’t know how long it would be covered like that. I happily agreed. I’d secretly hoped he wasn’t one of those crazy hikers that hiked through any conditions, no matter what. Turns out he likes to play it safe like me (most of the time).
I didn’t set up my hammock. I just strung my tarp between some trees and now I’m laid up under it listening to the rain patter. We got almost 23 miles by 6:30pm, so I’m not too disappointed, especially with a 9am start.
We’re going to shoot for 33 miles tomorrow, but the terrain looks brutal. We’ll see if the storms don’t hamper us again.