Date- August 16, 2019
Location- Aspen grove, side of trail
Elevation- 9,311 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 29.8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1096.4 miles
Weather/Temp- scattered clouds, 60s, 70s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- horses, alpacas, pack goats, elk
Days without shower- 4
Days without laundry- 4
Today was a grind and a half. Not challenging terrain, but the first 18 miles were a mental struggle again. I totally messed up by not packing anything but sugary foods for this section. The plan was to supplement with trout, but it was nowhere near enough. The lack of salt and complex carbs in my diet really took a toll. I can’t believe I still make these kinds of foolish mistakes at this point in the game. It really comes down to fool hardiness in thinking I was going to catch enough trout as my sustenance. Oh, I caught a bunch – but 97% of them were just too small to eat and the really big ones whipped my ass. Go figure.
So the sugar alone made me sick to the point that I almost can’t force myself to eat it. The amount I have forced myself to eat over the past couple days has barely been enough to sustain the miles I have done. Mostly, I feel the drag of all this in my head – not in my body. My body is feeling almost no pain, and will do whatever I can manage to “think” it to do. The only problem is… thinking and focusing has been extremely difficult lately.
Anyway, today I would have taken another alternate of the CDT; again, it would have been much harder and much more difficult, but also much more beautiful. The alternate is called “Cirque of the Towers.” It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. I’ve traversed this route twice already, both from a northerly and southerly direction. I’ve got dozens upon dozens of pictures from both traverses, and while it would have been cool to get even more of the same pictures… Just didn’t have it in me to take that alternate this time. Also, I didn’t have that option in my food bag – literally. So, I stuck to the official CDT and got to see some pretty trail that I’ve never seen during my last two times hiking through this area. A win-win.
I even hiked an extra 2 sideway miles to get to a remote lodge called “Big Sandy” – all in the name of real food. This put quite a dent in my pace and planned miles today, but I just couldn’t eat Oreos, fudge cookies, candy corn, gummy worms, AND MAYBE some trout for the next two days. Couldn’t do it. It would kill me – literally, spiritually, emotionally, metaphorically, etc… etc. I had to self-rescue.
Hiked 18 miles to that lodge by 2:40 pm and ate a 1 pound burger with fried eggs, bacon, and the works – along with a mountain of potato salad. I even packed out 3 more sides of potato salad in Ziploc bags for tonight or tomorrow. There were no other snacks to be found or bought at the lodge. The entire place was running off a generator for Pete’s-sake. It was a very simple operation, but it was a life saver today!
When I finally got back on trail it was almost 5 pm. There’s not much to tell really. After reconnecting with the CDT from the lodge, I didn’t see another human being. There was an elk though! A single bull elk spooked up and ran deeper into the forest within seconds of spotting me. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture, but that was my first elk sighting of this hike… finally!
I also got charged by a range cow. Range cows are basically wild cows that are left to free range enormous spaces of wilderness. I believe they get rounded up for slaughter by hired Gauchos every couple of years. At least that’s what I’ve been told.
Anyhow, there were a group of range cows on the trail in a heavily forested stretch. They all ran, but one kept on the trail and stayed just ahead of me- running every time I got close. Eventually the trail wound its way into a clearing where some of the other cows had retreated. My cow joined them. But… as I passed by, one of the others came at me in a swift charge! As I began to run, it sped up and veered straight for me. I sprinted almost 50 yards into the treeline before looking back to see the cow standing in the trail where I had just been – staring menacingly at me. What the hell!?
As 9 pm approached and darkness crept over the mountains, I decided to call it a day. I reached the top of a steep climb and found myself in a gorgeous grove of big Aspens – perfect for hammocking. There are low spots or valleys on either side of me, so this is the warmest spot to rest. I wish I would have checked my mileage however, because I fell 2 tenths of a mile short of a 30 mile day. Oh well, I have over 30 miles to a road tomorrow. Hopefully I can get there early enough to hitch.
It’s almost 11 pm and I can hear coyotes down below. There have been a lot of them lately. I wasn’t going to eat my potato salad tonight, but I’m so hungry it hurts. All I’ve been able to think about is eating it after I finish this journal. So, I’m going to do that now. I’m so hungry that I don’t even care that I’m eating food in my shelter – alone – in what is still loosely considered grizzly country. Stupid. But hunger is trumping better judgment.
Add on – I ate one of the three bags of potato salad and managed to regain enough of my sanity to save the other two for breakfast or lunch.
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