CDT Days 33 & 34: Ghost Ranch

Day 33: Ghost Ranch Alt mile 4.4 to Ghost Ranch, 6.6 miles

Day 34: Ghost Ranch to CDT mile 722.4, 23 miles

Total miles: 609.4

The sixish miles to Ghost Ranch went quickly, despite the trail not being well marked once we got off of the dirt road. Ghost Ranch is a Presbyterian retreat and conference center off the CDT, that many hikers choose to hike to using an alternate route because it makes resupply easier and there is more water along the route.

We arrived around 9AM, and were able to check into a cabin for the day. We showered and did laundry again, despite just doing it two days ago, as you can imagine we get dirty quite quickly out here! We also had time to organize our resupply box we sent to ourselves here, before heading down to a buffet lunch. Lunch actually had vegetables and a salad bar, both a rarity so far on this trip. We ran into Steel and Twisted, as well as the group of guys we’ve been hiking around, and we all sat together at one big happy hiker table.

After lunch I caught up on blogging in the well stocked library, with super fast internet, and we spent the rest of the day lounging around until buffet number two for dinner. We rented Juno from the library, and watched it in the common room next to our cabin.

The next morning we tried to sleep in a bit as breakfast wasn’t until 7:30am, but we only made it until 6:30am. We packed-up and headed down the the cafeteria to be pleasantly surprised that breakfast was out early. We had some breakfast burritos and fresh fruit, and lingered at breakfast for over an hour talking with the other hikers. We finally made our way to the trail a little before 9am, and were quickly enveloped by a box canyon surrounding the trail. A box canyon is named such because it’s boxed in at one end. We followed a stream, and then saw a stone staircase leading us out before the closed end of the canyon.

We then proceeded to walk up for about 10 miles, slowly crawling out of the desert for good and joining the pine laden mountains. The trail was mostly on forest road, but it still took us until nearly 4pm to go 14 miles to a spring. We filled up 2L and took off for he next water source 8.7 miles away, determined to make it there by 8pm to camp. We made good time, despite the trail being tricky to follow. At one point we had GPS, and two different maps out and we still weren’t sure which was the actual trail as it was marked differently on all three. We managed, and as we closed in on our home for the evening we saw a pack of elk run across the trail in front of us.

Unfortunately the water source was sub-par, so we filtered what we needed and ate dinner as it grew dark. While it was listed as a stream, it was more of a mud puddle. I guess we’re not quite out of the desert, yet!