Date- September 21, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 9,551 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 24.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,777 miles
Weather/Temp- Clear, partly cloudy, snow flurry
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- zero
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 2
I froze my ass off last night! In fact, everyone froze their ass off last night. It was so painfully cold that I couldn’t get moving until almost 8:45 am. With the colder weather kicking in, I can’t be making these mistakes anymore, intentionally or not.
Swift didn’t sleep with her water filter last night, so it froze and was compromised. It was an oversight on our behalf;; we forgot to remind her about Sawyer filters being worthless if they freeze. Then again, I’m not sure if any of us had anticipated a hard freeze last night. Anyway, I decided to loan her my filter. I knew there was a possibility that she might not keep up with our pace through this section, so she would need one more than me. Firstly, because I don’t filter from every source as it is. Secondly, because I could keep up with everyone else and borrow one of theirs if need be.
So my day began late with a 22 mile water carry. There were no bicyclists, but I did have two dirt bike riders whizz by me in the early afternoon. Other than that, I saw no one except two northbound CT hikers.
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for the entire first half of the day, and this surely felt like a good omen. However, it became partly cloudy in the afternoon. At about 5 pm a large gray cloud drifted over me while I was at the top of a climb, while a very light snow flurried for about 5 minutes. Nothing stuck as every flake melted the instant it touched the ground. Eventually the cloud drifted away. As sunset approached, all the clouds evaporated leaving a clear sky full of twinkling stars.
All in all, it was a very uneventful yet beautiful day. Most of the trail was forested with short stretches of exposed ground – usually meadows or fields (not ridge-lines). I spent the vast majority of my time listening to books or reciting poetry.
I’ve only learned two new short poems since entering Colorado. I’m slacking, but it’s only because I can’t concentrate as well on this challenging terrain. The constant high elevation with the ups and downs keeps me huffing and puffing and unable to seriously focus on much of anything. I think New Mexico will be different…
We all planned on a 24 mile day last night, so that’s what I timed my day for today. When I’m consciously aiming for a shorter day that isn’t getting me into town, I tend to take the entire day to do the miles. This allows me to hike leisurely, take breaks, and focus on things I want to focus on. If I went fast and got the miles done early, I’d just want to keep hiking to get more while there was still daylight.
I reached the 24 mile mark a little after 7 pm. Swift came out of some trees on the side of a large hill and waved me over. The spot was a little ways off the trail. It was sheltered by trees in a flat area (above any low spots), and Toast had a fire going already. What a welcome sight!
The gang is all here: Jetpack, Smiles, Toast, and Swift. I am officially and utterly surrounded by badass, independent women. It seems like everyone is keen on sticking together through this last stretch of Colorado. I’m intrigued to see if our little group holds together for the next 200+ miles. I’ve never been the only guy hiking with a group of female hikers. If you had asked me if I ever thought this kind of scenario would happen, I surely wouldn’t have believed it would occur on the CDT. Yet here it is, and I’m enjoying it. The conversations are certainly different than the ones I’d be having in a group of all guys, or even a more mixed group. Nevertheless, the subject matter doesn’t lack anymore depth or substance. There’s definitely more honest communication about “feelings” regarding a myriad of subject matters… and I’m digging it. It’s almost like I’m “one of the gals,” but in a comical “kid- brother” kind of way.
The Cowboy in Me
I cooked cheddar brats and mashed potatoes over the fire tonight and shared them with everyone. Now I’m cowboy camped next to the fire with another stunning view of the Milky Way above. So far I’ve managed to cowboy camp every night on trail except for 6 nights (not including privy stays) for over five weeks. I’m seeing no problem with keeping this up for the rest of the trail, regardless of weather. I’ve always found cowboy camping to be the purest form of camping. I’ve never felt closer to nature than when I’m sleeping on open ground with the stars as my ceiling. It’s hard to convey how freeing it feels, or the extra confidence that is forged from doing it. If you haven’t done it – you need to.
Tomorrow we’re striving for 27 miles. I think there might be a privy vault at the end of that stretch, so you know what that means…
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com