CDT Day 21 — July 16
Nevada Mountain to Blossburg Meadow – Edge of the Divide Camp to 21 is the New 31 Miles Meadow Camp
Miles hiked: 21
Total miles: 344.2
Oh boy, today I felt human. Like an achy, overhiked human. My strength has come and gone on this trail so far as my body breaks in, mostly increasing, but today was a big step back. The trail was pretty gentle, so I’ll take the hint. I need a break, big time. Fortunately, one is coming.
There was rain in the night, as has become the usual, so I awoke to a wet and dreary looking morning. My 5am alarm had me up in plenty of time to see the sun float above the horizon before finding a new hiding place behind the clouds. I got some writing done then snoozed hard, tired and not yet ready to face a cold, damp morning. SpiceRack and I did eventually get up, though. Hiking a little before 8am.
Another thing that has become the usual, I lost Spice when I stopped for my morning poop. My body has found a schedule and likes to stick to it. I found her again at the top of a climb that left us breathing in cloud and with little to look at. It was good climbing weather. But then we were going down the other side, back out of the cloud, then into a wide cow pasture full of poop and tall grass. There we found Swamp hanging out at the water source, a trough with a piped spring flowing into the surprisingly clear pool. The water was good, but the place smelled like poop. I ate what I could, Swamp left, then we left.
We wandered out through the meadow, following CDT signs, but walking on cow trails. They soon turned into a dirt road as some large pine trees closed up the scenery a bit. Cows were everywhere, big ones, small ones, mooing ones, and quiet ones. They were pretty nervous about us even though we gave them friendly greetings. The walking was easy over rolling hills on the wide path.
The scenery had changed dramatically. We were definitely out of the mountains now, yet still on the Continental Divide. It was a much gentler place. Meadows and trees everywhere, no jigs, no jags. The sky is big though. Very big.
We hiked without haste, knowing that eventually we would get to where we were going. I had to stop to pop a blister on each heel, and this short chore turned into an hour-long break under the shade of lodgepole pine. My feet were telling me that they are ready for a break. I heard them, loud and clear.
Dirt road, big (I mean really big) sky, and crazy stupid flies. I can’t say that we cruised, because we didn’t. My legs were starting to ache in new places, and generally all over. Spice looked like she was walking a bit tender too. A month from now, miles will evaporate like mist on a hot day when we are on a dirt road, but now, broken down as we were, there was no jet boost in our legs. Just the sloshing dregs of a near-empty tank.
We missed a turn, but using our maps we found another dirt road that would link us back with the trail in a few miles. Simply backtracking the half-mile to the junction was out of the question of course, and remained unspoken. We found a small baggie of weed, but decided to leave it for the next person to enjoy. At our next break, we were caught by Crunchberry and Rooster who were hiking an alternate route to the CDT. Turns out we had ended up on that alternate too with the missed junction. Things were working out.
They stopped to camp there at a small trickle of water, but Spice and I thought we had a couple more miles in our legs. We did make it a mile or two further, but had to stop short of our goal for the evening. I was starting to get shooting pings up my left calf every few minutes and my feet felt pounded. Spice didn’t complain at all when I said that I needed to stop.
The evening light was spectacular across the wide valley as we set up to camp a hundred feet or so off the road. A nice flat camp, under one of the biggest skies I’ve ever seen. A bird flew in to welcome us home with its beautiful song, and coyotes joined in, serenading us with yips and yowls as we prepared dinners and gingerly lay down.
Being horizontal has rarely felt this good. We hiked 21 miles today, but by the way I feel, it could have been 31. My body is tired, finally protesting the prolonged abuse. We should reach Helena tomorrow, where the top priority will be relaxation. I think that each of us has earned it.