I Chose This
- CDT Miles: 1,735.7-1,749.4 (13.7)
- Total Hiked: 872.3
- Elevation Range: 8,155-10,160
“As they listened, they began to understand the lives of the forest apart from themselves, indeed, to feel themselves as the strangers where all other things were at home. (J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring)
I took an unintentional sleep-in this morning. Either I didn’t properly set my alarm or I slept right through it and ended up waking at 6:15am, fifteen minutes before our planned departure time. Normally in such situations, what follows is a hectic scramble to get myself ready for the day, but on trail it’s just not that big of a deal. Started getting ready, told the team I’d be later and to start without me, and continued as usual.
Cheer and Snickers left around 6:45am and once again, I followed them about 20 mins. behind. Yesterday, starting out on this section, I was under the impression that we were going right up and into the Winds. That did sort of happen. It was very different from the basin up above 9,000 feet with taller peaks surrounding us, but then we went down again. So the later parts of yesterday and beginning of today, it still felt like we were in the transition stage, especially when we were in the mix of sage and forest.
I caught up to the team and we crusied on together. One may wonder, what do y’all talk about out there day after day? Of course it varies, but one common theme I’d say is just the simple wonderment of things. Asking questions. Suggesting ideas why something is a certain way or maybe guessing at a species of flower or tree for instance. Like in this next pic, we believe it’s a Limber Pine, because that’s what a guy a few days ago told us about and said they had lots of limbs. Without Google at hand, it’s a lot of guessing and theorizing I suppose.
“I’m on a curiousity voyage I need my paddles!” – Dustin (Stranger Things)
The big mountains were in sight and we were headed that way!
In addition to all the terrain and hiking condition changes this stretch, I also am trying a monumental change in the breakfast arena. Yes folks, for once in my life, I’m trying something other than oatmeal and in fact am trying to go without a stove for the meal. Got to say, the dry milk that I rehydrated combined with cinnamon granola, a few raisins, and even the cold instant coffee really hit the spot this morning. I was surprised about the coffee. I guess cold brew is pretty hip nowadays, so I’ll fit right in.
I took a lot of pictures of the the same magnificent set of peaks today…
The first half of the day was just stunning. Everything was groovy as we continued our way into more and more beautiful scenic lands. absolutely clear watered streams… Even had some bridges for crossing!
Snickers made the best suggestion ever to soak our feet here at the Sweetwater River. Freezing, but felt so refreshing. Especially since ahead was a climb up above 10,000 feet.
I was loving it.
Our lunch spot was probably one of my most fav on the CDT yet. A nice meadow with great shade on a hot day. After lounging and eating, we did a team meeting to look at maps and make a plan. Basically, we agreed we want to at least try the Cirque of the Towers alternate coming up. In town we’d gone back and forth and now it was getting close to decision time as we neared the turnoff junction.
Before all that though, we dealt with a steep climb, mosquitos, and tree blow downs over the trail.
Each of us is now carrying bear spray and we keep it close at all times, usually strapped to our packs. I used some dental floss to try and secure it a little better since it’s been swinging around.
So the title for today, “I chose this,” is something Cheer had said a few times now. Usually it’s when it’s a particularly struggle moment such as today with the tree blow downs. And it’s a good reminder for when things are pretty sucky. We chose this and we’re very fortunate to be out here doing this. Doesn’t take away the suck, but keeps things in perspective. On the flip side, I think it has another meaning. I chose this, because….
Wow! Right? Such beauty came at a price. To get the view, we had to go through this…
“The hobbits grew very weary. They advanced slowly for they had to pick their way through a pathless country encumbered by fallen trees and fallen rocks.” (J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring)
I think I can safely say this was the worst section of trail I’ve ever experienced. In town we’d heard it was mostly from a bad storm a year or two ago. To top it off, the mosquitos went from bad to worse. Cheer tried her whole suit, but kept getting it snagged. Once I remembered I bought bug spray, I finally put that on which actually did a really good job. I’m always skeptical of the stuff.
A bit of pollen? From brushing through the pine branches
We stopped just shy of Little Sandy Creek, which is the outlet of Little Sandy Lake, the one in the picture above. The plan was to eat dinner and then move on to cross and find camp. We were too tired and beat up and had just passed some nice spots, so called it a day we did. Still cooked and ate there and then walked back a little ways to set up tents and hang our food and smelly stuff. Had a little bit of rain and hail as we set up and retreated inside. And the mosquitos lingered throughout. I hate lingerers.
Such a wild day. Somehow through all the crazy trail, we all kept a positive attitude for the most part. Sure a few cuss world were flung out there into the world, but when you get stabbed and then bitten and scraped all at the same time, it seems deservedly so. But very thankful to have these two to hike with. Probably would not have made it through today going solo!
Here’s my exhausted and disgruntled but oh so happy to be in my tent, face…
Album of the Day
“Let Go” – Avril Lavigne
Song of the Day
“Hello My Old Heart” – The Oh Hellos