CDT Day 14 — July 9
Chinese Wall to West Fork South Fork Sun River meadow
I’m Feeling Hot Hot Hot Camp to Golden Hour Meadow Camp
Miles hiked: 18.3
Total miles: 220
Last night while I was jotting notes before bed, I heard a huffing noise outside the tent, coming closer. Yep, it sounded like something big. Most things do in the dark.
SpiceRack, wake up. There’s something outside. Might be a bear.
The panting came closer. I made a loud sound. It ran away. Bear spray in hand, I poked my head out of the tent. There was just enough light for me to see a deer butt disappear into the bushes. Fwhew. I couldn’t fall asleep for a little while after that. Just a deer.
Besides that bit of excitement, a ton of rain fell in the night. The ground was squishy when I put my feet outside to stand up and low hanging clouds patrolled the valley below. I heard bits of rock tumbling down the Chinese Wall, but couldn’t find the source. SpiceRack and I put on our somehow soaked hiking clothes, packed up a damp camp, and were hiking by 9:15am.
There was some sun on the wall as we rolled through flower-filled meadows below it. Bus-sized boulders inspired me to gaze up in wonder, trying to imagine what it had looked like, sounded like, felt like, even smelled like, when they broke free and tumbled down. I don’t think my imagination could do it justice.
We went up a little, then down a little. The muddy trail revealed some bear paw prints heading in the opposite direction. Must have just missed it. A Cessna made a low pass along the wall, but mostly it was just good walking with good views. I really enjoyed it.
Finally, we crested an unnamed pass, a saddle extending perpendicular to the wall. A short side trail took us right to the base where we were able to actually touch the darn thing. Views north and south along it were superb and we hooted an hollered, the great wall echoing our annoyances in diminishing pulses. We scooted back to the trail after hearing word from another hiker that the squirrels were mounting an offensive on Spice’s backpack back at the pass. A bunch of other hikers showed up then. They were friendly, but it was strangely busy for a while until we left them to talk about chocolate milk, or whatever hikers talk about.
It was 2pm and we were only 6 miles into our day. Time to move. We dropped down into forest along a creek where we took a break instead. We soaked our feet and dried our wet gear. Tom, a cool hiker, nice dude, fellow blogger, who somehow hasn’t left us in his dust yet, stopped to chat for a while too. We made definite plans to all wind up living in Flagstaff at some point. Finally, really needing to make some miles now, we got going for real.
The afternoon hours were lost in a looooong green hallway. Trending gradually downhill, I tried pushing the limit of how fast my legs could carry me. Focus was hard to maintain, but it was still quick cruising. I narrowly lost to Spice at a ChupaChup licking contest. Edge-of-your-seat type stuff.
For perhaps the first time since leaving the Canadian border, we were fortunate to see some golden hour light as we finished the day, meadow strolling along the West Fork South Fork of the Sun River. Clouds have typically covered these precious rays, but not this evening. It was quite a treat and made for blissful, contemplative walking. Spice chose a great spot to camp in a meadow and we were able to watch the sun set behind a near ridge while spooning ramen. Is there anything better?
My hip felt great today with my continued mindfulness of my gait and a dose of naproxen. Keep it up, my friend!