CDT Day 97: hot cheese

Bull Springs to Cooks Creek Spring: 23.9 miles

Total miles: 1447.4

Even though we hiked less miles today than we did yesterday, day two of this section felt a little more challenging. For one thing, we didn’t have fresh day off legs working for us. Another thing, it was hot with no shade for nearly 20 miles. We made the best of it, as we always seem to do (the other choice is to be miserable, and that’s certainly no fun), and fortunately we had water opportunities close together in the afternoon sun to make the heat more bearable.

From our campsite at Bull Springs we had a little over 14 miles to go to get to A&M Reservoir. The trail was a straight dirt road, but went quicker than expected. We saw a few herds of wild horses throughout the morning, and they had adorable babies with them that seemed to match the same coloration of their mothers.

I tried not to look at the time as to not know how long we’d been hiking, and when I finally did we still had almost six miles to go. The last six passed by fast, and soon we were at the reservoir. We ate lunch in the tiniest bit of shade produced by a road sign and watched the cows stare at us across the cattle grate. There was a grate set up along the road, as well as a fence around the reservoir to keep the cows out, and they seemed perplexed that we possessed the power to magically cross over the grate preventing them from doing the same. They had their own water to muck up, so we didn’t feel bad.

From lunch we had a short 1.5 mile walk to an electric well, which reports promised to be ice cold and clear. It didn’t disappoint, and although there was no shade, we each drank our fill of the cold water. We also filled bags up and dumped it over our necks and heads, which really helped cool us down. After that it was just 2.5 miles to another electric well. We normally don’t stop so frequently for water, but without and shade and the with heat the water in our bottles instantly heated up. Stopping for a cold drink helped mitigate the power of the sun. As we started to leave, some clouds rolled in and blanketed us with shade for the rest of the day- a huge relief.

From the last well, we had just five more miles to a spring which had been heralded as the “best water in the basin” on some trail reports that we’d read. I had started to develop a blister on the toe pad of my left foot, and was excited at the prospect of stopping a bit earlier than usual to help heal it a bit. When we arrived at the spring, we were disappointed to find dozens upon dozens of cows all around (and even more of their patties). The water was fine, but not nearly as nice as the two wells we’d just drank from. I was ready to be done, so while Garrett filled our water bags I climbed a hill away from the cows (and a lone antelope) to look for a spot.

I found one, and sat down to have a pre-dinner snack. I was hungry, and tired, and ready to be done for the day. As I reached into my food bag I felt something greasy. It was so hot that day that the zipseal on my pack of cheese had melted away from the bag, and then the oils had leached out of the cheese bag, found their way through a hole in the back-up bag I’d put it in, and into my food bag. I also discovered the oils had leaked out of the seam of my food bag and onto my puffy coat. Needless to say I wasn’t happy about the mess, but set about cleaning it up. The heat had also melted the seal from one of my peanut butter cups, but at least the peanut butter had stayed contained in the bag. The mess cleaned up slowly, but I managed with some wet wipes and a bandana to get the oils out. Let it be known, you can rack up thousands of miles hiking and still be prone to blisters and unexpected pack explosions!