CDT Day 32: Mussigbrod Saddle to just north of Hwy 43 – SpiceRack is My Hero Camp to Surprise 30 Camp
Miles hiked: 30
Total miles: 526.2
Yep, we did it. SpiceRack and I hiked our first 30 mile day of the trail today. A late start made it seem unrealistic from the get go, but factors conspired to get us all the way there. It was a fun challenge, though I’m happy for a short day into town tomorrow.
The day could have started better. We slept poorly, Spice worse than me, with a bad zipper that let the mosquitos in for most of the night. She was up slapping bugs at 1am and would have started hiking if it had been a couple hours later. Sleep was just coming on when the alarm went off. I had slept better, but was still okay with sleeping in a little. We had thought about doing a 30 today so that getting into town tomorrow would be super easy. However, leaving camp at 7:30am didn’t help the cause, so we let ourselves off the hook. Let’s just see what happens.
I was feeling refreshed, much better than yesterday. No headache and peeing copiously. Just happy to be alive again. The trail started tough with a hot climb over blowdowns, but then turned cruiser at the top as it ducked into the shade and trended slightly downhill. I felt cool here for the first time in a while and by golly, it was glorious. I hit the jets to the next creek, two miles away.
After washing my face and legs I really did feel human again. With the pain of yesterday still sharp in my memory, just returning to my normal state had me feeling on top of the world. I wouldn’t say it was worth it, but the contrast heightened my gratitude for how strong I feel on any given day. Maybe it is important to be reminded of the bad so that normal can be appreciated for how good it really is. I would have punched you if you told me that yesterday, but I drank the Kool Aid this morning.
With our maps, Surprise Lake was no surprise to us. No time for a swim though. Thoughts of a 30 began creeping back and, damn, the hiking was fine through a mix of lodgepole forest and burn areas. We made it to Schultz Creek and lunch, 14 miles in by 1pm. A big thunderstorm just to the south kept the temperature perfect for hiking and lounging, and we both got a little bit wet as we refueled for the next 16 miles. We were officially going for it now.
The terrain was perfect for covering big miles and I hit the jets again, hiking as fast as I could without working up too much of a sweat. Gentle hills flew by in a blur. There wasn’t much to look at by trail standards, so it was easy to keep my focus on not eating shit. Spice passed me while I turbo-pooped, leaving pine cones on my backpack to indicate she had been through. I found her waiting for me in the shade after a hot climb, 22 miles in.
We breaked to let the heat die down a little then got moving once more. My Micro Squeeze filter failed catastrophically, breaking in half completely, but there was no other drama through the woods along a round ridge. I ran an alternate route to collect water, then waited, panting and sweating, for Spice just off the trail. We joined forces once more for the final 4 miles after watching the last 20 minutes of the sun setting behind a distant ridge.
Taylor Swift’s 1989 was the album of choice to take us home. I had to literally walk as fast as I possibly could to keep up with Spice as dusk faded to dark. I panted. I sweated. We flew. All I could think about for the last mile was that it was the same distance from my house to my favorite burrito place when I lived in San Diego. This thought was not helpful, only serving to make me hungry and nostalgic. Spice led the way with her headlamp for the last half mile. At 10:30pm we finally dropped our packs, 30 miles from where we woke up this morning.
My feet feel worked, and it’s probably a good thing that it’s too dark to inspect them right now. Legs feel good though. Beans instead of a burrito for dinner. I feel good now. How will I feel tomorrow?