CDT Day 37: Homer Youngs Peak shadow to Goldstone Pass – Fancy Seeing You Here Camp to Fox Camp
Miles hiked: 27
Total miles: 607.9
Early to bed, early-ish to rise. Even with the extra hour of sleep, SpiceRack and I still slept through multiple alarms. Still, we were on the trail hiking by 6:30am, a big improvement. Probably because we knew how damn far we had to hike today. Sun filtered through the trees as the trail continued for a few easy miles along the creek. I felt surprisingly recovered considering the sorry state I was in ending yesterday, though my feet did take some warming up before I could walk normally.
Continuing the trend of this section through the Beaverheads, going down meant switchbacking up. We had sort of pushed east, out of the mountains so there was no big pass to climb, but the elevation was big anyway. I was ravenous as I neared the top of the climb, thinking that perhaps my hiker hunger had finally kicked in. I jammed some of the food in my hip belt pocket into my mouth. Who remembers what it was? Who cares? Through the trees I could see clouds already blowing in from the West. There will be rain.
And the rain did come not too long after that. A shower kicked me down the other side in a hurry, even though I was protected by some pretty big trees. The running probably didn’t help with the rain any, but it made me feel better nonetheless. The sun poked through a tenuous gap in the clouds. The forest warmed. Spice and I created an elaborate fantasy about lasagna.
We kept lunch short at Pioneer Creek, cognizant of the mega climbing we still had to do. Spice got going before me, but I didn’t want a repeat of yesterday so I made sure to write quickly and only left 20 minutes after her. It was unbelievably hot through a sage-filled opening in the trees. Thousands of grasshoppers fluttered along the trail in front of me. But then back into the trees. Really beautiful forest, gentle uphill.
Remember how it was hot and sunny? Well, all of a sudden it wasn’t. In just a few minutes, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and the bright afternoon dimmed to late evening dusk. Thunder began to rip the sky and rain started to fall just as I caught up to Spice who was finishing a break. I was happy for the relief from the heat, but my reaction was mellow compared with the extra juice she was feeling. Alive, and ready to hike!
I was even happier about not being a few miles faster. We were safe in the forest in a valley, but we would soon be up high on an exposed ridge. Not the place I wanted to be in a thunderstorm. Nope, I tootled away, quite happy under my umbrella to watch flashes, count seconds, and feel the boom from a safe elevation.
We discussed what ice-cream flavored Corn Nuts would be like at a needed break, then were harassed by whistling marmots on bouldery switchbacks to a pass. Down a bunch, then up even more to another saddle around 9,300ft. Light showers were safely east of us now, and the thunder long gone. A big storm system was still dumping an ocean-worth of rain over the higher peaks to the north, but all that amounted to for us was an incredible show. The sun was approaching the horizon so the rain was filled with gold as it hazed out the gnarly black jags. It was going to be tight making it to camp before dark, but the sight was worth stopping for. Over and over again.
The fantastic ridge went for miles. Tough up and down, but worth every step. Spice did not appreciate my rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Finally at the top of whatever it was that we were on, it was just a couple mile cruise downhill to camp. It may sound strange, but my legs were so tired at this point that I needed to run, no strength left to fight gravity with every step. So I made it there pretty quick, 9:15pm. Beat, but before dark. Crunchberry and Rooster were camped at the dirt road intersection already and I was enthralled to hear about their experience on the ridge during the height of the storm. Yep, not the place to be.
A fox showed me where to drop my pack. I collected water while Spice set up the tent. A cold night. Cold beans for dinner. Tough day. Great day.