|Sam Hughes and his trusty jeep. Also, Speed Bump|
|Softwalker at sunset|
|Hikers in Pie Town!|
|Ruins in New Mexico|
|An after lunch nap for Softie|
|Estero in the Gila|
|Road walking towards Cuba|
than likely both.
-The Gila- 1st frozen shoes, 100+ river crossings when the temperature is barely above freezing, cliff dwellings, hot springs, my legs getting torn up from the growth between the river crossings- some nights I couldn't sleep because of the pain of thousands of little scratches all over my calves/shins.
|Doing sock laundry in the first flowing |
water source on-trail.
|Fun in an ABQ parking lot|
|Fun back on trail, now that|
I have new shoes!
-The extraordinary pain of having blisters and shoes that don't fit while road-walking. I was on the verge of tears most of the time between Snow Lake and Grants. Have you ever had that pounding pain in your feet from walking for too long? Now imagine it going on all day- yea, that. A special thanks to Softwalker and Estero for walking/breaking with me during these times- and reminding me that positive attitudes are key.
-Bo and Flyby each getting themselves a personal pie in Pietown- Apple and Coconut Cream.
|And then it snowed...|
|Walking into Ghost Ranch|
-Hunters! They were all so friendly and helpful. I hope you all got your turkeys!
-Getting higher in elevation and getting thunder-snowed on as we were walking across a soggy field- which way is the CDT again?
-The views from the mesas! The subtle nuances of the high desert will always pleasantly surprise me.
|Walking out of Ghost Ranch. Irony?|
|Camp for the night|
|Me, Estero, and Softalker on the snow before Cumbres Pass.|
|And then it snowed…. smack in between Cumbres Pass |
and Wolf Creek Pass
-SNOW. The harsh beauty of it, coming to terms with having frozen feet all day, every day(until near Frisco), the futility of trying to walk through/around it once it began melting, north-facing slopes and shade (insert hateful glare here)
|Bumpy and I crossing the snow|
|Checking out THE Pagosa Spring.|
-I do love a few things about snow, and one of them is glissading! We did it every chance we got, so much so that I tore a giant hole in the butt of my shorts before Wolf Creek Pass, and had to get new pants in Pagosa Springs.
|Pod and Gnar catching up fast through the snow|
-Exposure- We went noticeably higher in Colorado, the CDT doesn't dip below 9,000ft and generally stays above 10,000ft the entire 700+ miles in that state. And the wind was again incessant. At one point, I was walking with my body at a 45* angle into the snow and wind trying not to get blown off the mountain, while muttering to myself and crying for a couple of hours- it sure makes getting to tree line more appreciable!
-Map reading and group consultation happened a lot through the snow, thankfully we were generally above tree line, so we could see where we needed to go, we just had to figure out the way to do it that would lead us through the least amount of hip-deep post-holing while keeping us generally near the actual trail.
|Sketchy alternate route along the divide |
instead of post-holing? Yes, please!
-I've called what I developed around this time 'Stockholm Syndrome' because no matter how beat down and exhausted I was by the weather, terrain, elevation, and lack of forward momentum, I was still in love with the CDT. How could you not be? Maybe I'm just a masochist….
|And then it snowed…almost to Lake City!|
-Hike naked Day! The first one I ever got to celebrate appropriately- it was awesome!
-The woman at that lake south of Twin Lakes who offered comic relief after we just had been slogging through snow all morning:
Her: "You girls should do the El Camino in Spain, you've already got all the gear"
Me: "Well, we've got to finish this trail first."
Her: "It's a total life changer, you should do it."
And all the other people who inadvertently made me laugh along the way.
|North of Monarch Pass- sheltering from the wind.|
|Almost to Twin Lakes with a storm rolling across |
|Fly over on Mt. Elbert|
|Looking back towards Gray's Peak|
|Why can't we go around James Peak? ….Oh, that part of it seems to be missing.|
-New hikers! I (and a few others) started earlier than most thru-hikers, and the snow in CO hampered most people's progress, so I only saw 5 or so other hikers until this state when people started popping up all over. E, Balls, Sunshine, Dain, Sweet As, Mountain Rat, Beacon- just to name a few.
-From Encampment to Rawlins was my first time hiking alone on this trail. I got lost, found myself, and enjoyed the solitary environment. It was good to catch up with everyone in Rawlins though.
|I am here.|
-TRAIL MAGIC out the wazoo! Hiking around Balls and Sunshine definitely had its benefits through the Great Basin- Teresa and Butterfly's presence being one of them. We had water, shade, snacks, and good vibes delivered to us throughout this arid and shadeless 110-mile section.
-Attack of the Grouse! A mean and defensive grouse chased me(and multiple other hikers) up to a quarter mile or so, trying to peck at me as I shoved it back with my trekking pole-scary and rediculous!
-Speaking of the Winds- GO! They are unquestionably one of the most beautiful sections of the CDT, and we only saw about 15 people in the entire 160ish miles. I've heard the mosquitoes can be tortuous, while we were there they were only mostly rage-inducing. We only got caught above treeline by a storm once- and it wasn't too terrifying.
|Double rainbow coming out of Rawlins!|
-Going into Jackson Hole to visit Emilee- such a kick-ass woman! As are all of her friends(kick-ass that is, not all women). The last time I had been to Jackson was almost 10 years ago, and a lot of memories came flooding back as I looked out the car window driving through Yellowstone and the Tetons.
-Running into a few chinese tourists who had just come from my home town (State College, PA) and were in Old Faithful village visiting before heading back to China- reminding me again what a small world it really is. They were thoroughly impressed at what I was doing and just excited to be around someone going on an epic trek such as mine.
|Sunset over the Great Divide Basin|
|Green River- the Winds|
|Sunrise in the Winds|
|Look! More of The Winds! Yes, that stream by|
my feet is the trail.
|Parting of the waters|
|Yellowstone backpacker fail. No people to be found|
|Geyser Valley- YNP|
|Getting water in Monta-ho|
-I learned a lot about the history of the natives of this region as well as the Lewis & Clark expedition. There's the flight of the Nez Perce, where L & C and their posse crossed the divide, and many more historical markers along this otherwise boring and tedious section of the CDT.
|Cadillac Mtn, perhaps?|
|I laughed about this for a full day, from when |
I first saw it on the map
|Another beautiful view from the trail|
|I came up to this sign from the trail behind it.|
|This trail and the CDT coincided for a while.|
-Notice my use of 'we' even when I just said I was hiking alone- it becomes habit- especially as a woman hiking alone. In my mind, 'we' is safer than 'I', and it's my observation that people ask fewer questions that way.
|Sunset through the fire smoke in Anaconda, MT|
|Fire smoke in the valley|
|Fire closure list going into 'The Bob'|
|Closed trail in 'The Bob'|
|Estero checking out the view in Glacier NP|
|Small view across St. Mary Lake|
Then in Colorado there was the semi driver who gave me a ride into Pagosa Springs, the city workers who were just as concerned about my 'lost' wallet as I was (it ended up being at the bottom of my pack), Grizzly and his amazing hospitality, the developer who gave us a ride into Lake City, Lucky at the Raven's Rest Hostel in Lake City, the guy running the gondola at Monarch Pass, the guy who gave Max Chill and I a ride into Salida, Liv!, the general store in Twin Lakes for holding our packages- even as they were taking apart the post office as we walked in, Fidget and her former landlord for letting a bunch of dirty hikers hang out and recuperate for a few days in Frisco, "Have you read 'Wild'!?!?"(I was asked this at least once a week), the kid who made room for all 3 of us and then got pulled over on the way into Steamboat Springs from Rabbit Ears' Pass, Kim and her friends/roommates in Steamboat, Strider's cousin who gave us a ride back up to Rabbit Ears' Pass while asking us about the trail- hope you're enjoying India!
|Sycamore told us to look happy, I apparently |
was the only one who heard him. It was pouring.
|Estero along the Ahern Drift|
In Idaho/Montana there was the woman who gave us a ride into Leadore, ID in the back of her truck even though she had sleeping babies in her cab, the hotel owners in Lima- we got a flat tire and it didn't seem to affect your mood, the sobos (southbound hikers) who we were running into giving us (mostly) useful information on the trail ahead, the wonderful woman who gave me a ride from Chief Joseph Pass after backing up the highway to pick me up, the wonderful guy who gave me a ride back up to the pass, the guy from PA who gave four of us a ride into Darby!, the guy who gave E and I a ride back out of Darby, the cross-country cyclists who shared their beer and stories at the campground, the guy who gave me water from his front yard well after rinsing out my bottle when I told him what I was doing, the girl who pulled over and gave me a ride into Lincoln as soon as I stuck my thumb out, the random guy at the grocery store who gave me one of his beers after telling me I wouldn't see any bears in 'The Bob'(liar!), all of the friendly people on the first day out of Benchmark telling me how many thru-hikers they had seen that day, the older women who told me their story of being air-lifted from the trail after one had fallen and split her head open- she still had the staples in!, the helpful woman answering the backcountry office phone in Glacier NP who helped me with permitting, the rangers who allowed Sycamore to get on our permit, the ranger who was aghast that we thought we could do 20 miles in the day starting at 11a.m.: "Have you done this before?", Sycamore's folks for driving us back into the U.S., and all the people who told me congratulations- starting 500 miles before I finished the CDT!
|E, me, Estero, Malarky, and Sycamore at |
the Canadian Border!