CDT Day 35 & 36: gaining elevation

Day 35: mile 722.4 to 741.9, 19.5 miles

Day 36: mile 741.9 to 767.7, 25.8 miles

Total miles: 654.7

It was below freezing when we woke up, and unlike other mornings the sun didn’t put much of a dent in the chill as we climbed above 10,000 feet and remained there for most of the morning. Altitude normally doesn’t effect me much below 12,000 feet, but perhaps it did this morning because I felt like I was dragging myself up the mountain. Any incline up made my legs feel heavy, and it didn’t help that we went through an area of blow downs where we were scrambling under and climbing over downed trees. We did manage to have some fun though, we always do! We particularly enjoyed this completely unnecessary gate.

We stopped for water and a snack five miles in, and that helped a bit, and we were able to push another seven miles for a later lunch by a creek. By now we were headed downhill, and I noticed a marked change in my stamina. We hiked another five miles quickly to a small river. Often in early spring this river can be a difficult crossing, but due to the low snow pack in this area it would have been an easy rock-hop. We used the log to get across anyway, to practice for future crossings!

We took a quick break, and Fifty, Constantine, Dirtbag, and Nimbles caught up to us and took a break as well. We continued on about three more miles to the next water and had an early dinner, where the guys joined us again. We were finished around 6:30pm, and would normally hike another hour or so, but because I’ve been tired decided to camp early to see if that would make a difference.

A couple extra hours of sleep definitely helped, and we got off to a quick start the following day. The first 16 or so miles came easily, but the last 8 where trying. We dipped way down into a canyon to cross a creek, only to go directly back up hill and hike west into the setting sun. The trail was along a cliff, so at least it was beautiful! We finally made it to a creek where we hoped to camp, only to find that there wasn’t any flat spots. We downed a liter of water each, then filled-up two more and hiked back up another hill. I’m not sure if it was the water or the desire to eat dinner, but we flew down the trail and quickly found a spot a half mile away.

I prepared my dinner that I’d been thinking about all afternoon; garlic olive oil couscous with peas and tuna. I added extra oil to it, and it was so delicious. I then finished off the rest of my crunchy mint M&Ms, and crawled into the tent happy and full. Despite the challenges that the CDT presents, it also offers so much beauty. We’ve started to see more wildlife as we’ve been in more forests, like elk, deer, fox, and sing birds. Garrett had a knack for getting a good photo of the birds, so I’ll leave you with this one of a Mountain Bluebird proudly sitting atop a pine.