CDT Day 10: Blowdownville to Elbow Creek – Comfy Cemetery Camp to Cold Soak Date Camp
Miles hiked: 17
Total miles: 151.4
The morning was dreary and so was my mood. Cloud hung low in the sky, gray and cheerless. I was groggy and tired after a frustrating night and fitful rest. Too hot, thirsty, weird dreams. I guess I ate too many fig newtons last night after all. Following a delicious sugarbomb for breakfast, SpiceRack and I packed up then got hiking at 7:45am.
We started right where we left off, parcouring over, under, and around blowdowns in a vast burn area. We heard from other hikers that this extended for a couple miles, so I prepared my mind for a wild ride. Progress was slow, but the route was easy to follow. It rained a little too, just enough to make me question every foot placement on each slick log. Still, it was fun, with balance tests and Spice cracking jokes the whole way. We were through it without drama.
The walking got easy from there and would remain that way for the rest of the day. The trail turned into a wide double track, speeding us through forest and meadows while keeping us a safe distance from the wet underbrush. A couple river fords got us wet anyway, but just to the ankles. And the bugs were bad. I was wearing my headnet and still getting eaten alive. The carnage was shocking and I gathered a few blood smears to prove it.
Spice tried to teach me some sign language at our next break. I’m not very good with the alphabet to begin with, so learning how to spell with hand gestures didn’t come easily to me. Definitely still a work in progress.
Having failed to put on any extra layers when we stopped, I was super cold by the time we left, with stiff joints and chattering teeth. However, it was easy to warm up again on the cruise through more burn and wide meadows. The wildflowers were outrageous, lots of yellow, a smidge of purple, and a pinch of red. Some mountainy things appeared occasionally through the cloud.
We found company and lunch at a locked-up ranger cabin. Thru-hiker, Swamp, and thru-rider, Jodi, were there for good conversation and it was super interesting to hear about riding the CDT on horseback. It sounds like a whole lot of work to me. I’d rather walk. Determined to never dig a cathole, I used the privy before we left to crush more miles.
The same extremely easy walking continued on double track along a river. We decided to take an alternate that kept us in the bottom of the valley rather than climbing a ridge into a cloud only to come straight back down. We saved four miles, a pointless up and down (PUD), and allegedly more blowdowns. We flew.
After the main CDT rejoined our trail, it was just a matter of climbing 11 gently graded, PCT-style switchbacks, then gradually dropping a few miles through a warm forest to Elbow Creek. The sun finally came out, so I was feeling fine. Two other hikers were already camped at the junction, but there was plenty of space for Spice and me to pitch our tent. We took advantage of the shining sun to soak our aching feet in the frigid water before preparing dinner and turning in. A burrito of beans and BBQ Lays for me. Scrumptious.
Easy miles, easy living.